1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Belgo Anise Imperial Russian StoutBelgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
80
good

910 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 910
Reviews: 440
rAvg: 3.5
pDev: 22%
Wants: 20
Gots: 162 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: EgadBananas on 05-23-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 910 | Reviews: 440 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mithrascruor
3.9/5  rDev +11.4%

22 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a glossy black color with a thick, film-like dark tan head.

Smell: Definite licorice aroma right up front. And, I can't really smell anything else beneath it.

Taste: Very malty with anise/licorice, chocolate milk, and mildly bitter flavors. The various flavors seem to fluctuate with no real relation to start, finish, aftertaste, etc. in each sip. Each peaks at different times. Tasty, but lacks a bit of dimension.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and very smooth. Moderate carbonation, but not very powerful.

Drinkability: Strong ABV, but not apparent in the taste.

Not quite sure what is "Belgo" here. It is an enjoyable beer, but seems a bit monolithic. A fun drink, to be sure, but I'd probably just get their regular RIS instead next time. (And if you don't like licorice, you won't like this! It does - to me - taste a bit more of licorice than it does of pure anise.)

mithrascruor, Jun 15, 2011
Photo of infi
3.8/5  rDev +8.6%

22 oz. bottle, shared with BAs brun, glard and NYManc.

Poured into a Corsendonk tulip.

Typical stout appearance: midnight with dark brown edges, mocha-colored head of tight knit bubbles with good retention. On the nose is the immediate emergent spiciness of the anise, giving it a very aromatic smell of licorice. Underneath the anise is a very thin malt breadiness. Belgian yeast is barely recognizable – drowned out by the totality of the anise overall.

Taste is nice and bold due to the anise spiciness. Basically, like a melted black jelly bean added to each glass. But not overpowering like a Jägermeister, either. Not much of any Belgian qualities to be noted of as well. Considerably thin malt complex to back the beer and some bittersweet chocolate underlying the rest.

Medium-bodied stout with palpable carbonation qualities on tongue. I guess generally people don't like licorice due to the low grading, but I enjoyed this "odd" beer. Look forward to many others on the odd years.

infi, Jun 15, 2011
Photo of SFGuy187
2.45/5  rDev -30%

A: Looks like a normal Stone RIS, but that's about all it has going for it.

S: Licorice orgasm. Yuck.

T: See above.

M: See above.

O: See above. Stone done messed it up with this licorice disaster. And since BA.com requires my review to be at least 250 character, I guess I'll further comment about how I hate this licorice bomb from hell.

SFGuy187, Jun 15, 2011
Photo of OldIronLungs
3.3/5  rDev -5.7%

Poured into a snifter dark brown with a thing ring of off-white lacing.

Nose pulls a little roast and that anise/liquorish tone on top of alcohol. I like anise, so I don't think I'm put off the way most reviewers are.

Medium to full mouthfeel with light carbonation. Sweet roast is quickly swept away by the anise flavor, which develops into a slightly bitter finish. I really don't know what else there is in there. The ABV is well hidden and it warms interestingly - I wouldn't mind a taste after some cellar time and in a colder month, but I won't be buying another bottle - I like anise but this was too much, like drinking liquorish syrup - I got no hints of Belgian yeast notes, either. Their regular RIS is great, and I'm sure I'd enjoy a Belgian version just fine...It's an odd one, to be sure, but Stone makes no excuses about the big anise flavor, so I can't lay down too much hate.

The Jager comment the previous review is pretty accurate...I'd say a shot of Ouzo makes as much sense.

OldIronLungs, Jun 14, 2011
Photo of womencantsail
3.05/5  rDev -12.9%

On-tap at Provisions

A: The beer pours essentially black with a finger of off-white head.

S: Huge licorice aroma is there, but I expected as much. Lots of roasted malts as well. A little bit of vanilla and graham cracker sweetness, but they're shortly overwhelmed by the anise.

T: Like with the nose, big time roast and anise character. A mild vanilla note and some definite booze. Lightly bitter with a touch of molasses, dark chocolate, and coffee. The licorice flavor is just invasive.

M: Medium to full in body with a smooth, medium carbonation.

O: Just way too much anise flavor. Almost like drinking Jagermeister.

womencantsail, Jun 14, 2011
Photo of JoeAmerican77
3.4/5  rDev -2.9%

Very near pitch black with a fat brown two inch head....

I smell Green tea, and mushrooms, hide cocoa beans in the back, also buried in the aroma of moist dirt

Sweet anise and alcohol burn meet the tongue, some dark malts arise to the occasion as well. The promised belgo yeast is there, yet arrives in such an insignificant number that it takes a huge backseat to everything else

Heavy bodied syrup, and warmth of booze make this a nice cold weather warmer, mild carbonation fits the style well

Overall I would change a few things here, jack up the belgo yeast, it is so scant yet half the reason I wanted to try this IRS, the other being that I love IRS's in general. Second this is very booze heavy. If the flavor profile could be emboldened, then I believe a balance one could find, and put this bad boy in a much higher grade.

JoeAmerican77, Jun 14, 2011
Photo of BigB415
3.48/5  rDev -0.6%

Pours pitch black into my Bruery snifter. Pitch black with tan head. Smells of licorice which is what you expect from an anise stout. When I sip licorice blasts my taste buds which I don't like too much, it's too overpowering. The regular RIS this year was perfectly balanced with chocolate and coffee but this BRIS is all licorice. It's a unique beer though because there aren't too many anise beers on the market. Actually you'd expect anise in a beer from a brewery like Dogfish Head and not Stone. My only disappointment from Stone and if I liked Anise I'd buy it again but I don't so I don't think I will anytime soon. If the Anise was a little toned down and more balanced with other flavors than this would be a great beer.

BigB415, Jun 14, 2011
Photo of foogerd
3.45/5  rDev -1.4%

A- Pitch black with a tanned khaki head.

S- Strong anise aroma right upfront totally overpowers the brew, some notes of bitter dark chocolate and dark fruits.

T- Again anise is right there at the start then the brew starts to segue to present the result of its yeast which interplays with the anise in a way where it just doesnt meld together. Dark fruits such as cherries and berries just dont meld together with this strong black licorice taste.

M- Smooth with light carbonation.

O- Interesting, and a nice overall effort but dont come in here looking for balance.

foogerd, Jun 13, 2011
Photo of alli4051
3.1/5  rDev -11.4%

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a nonic.

Pours just how I remember (from previous non-belgo anise versions at least), black and viscious with a solid tan head. On the first sniff it's obvious this isn't the typical Stone IRS; however, the base beer is still there with some roasty and coffee notes but the anise is heavy. Anise is again front and center in the first sip. At first the anise mingles rather well and creates this kind of not-entirely-unpleasant charred, charcoal kind of flavor, but it just kind of felt like the rest of the beer was there to compliment the anise. As it warmed the anise just became more and more overpowering. It's odd, this is the first beer I think I've had that seems to get more and more one dimensional as it warms. Mouthfeel was about the only thing that wasn't ruined by anise. The regular version is one of my favorite stouts of all time, this version just didn't do it for me. It goes without saying that Stone generally makes great beers, I guess they can't all be winners though. I do wonder if a bit of age would mellow the anise a bit and turn this into something really interesting.

alli4051, Jun 12, 2011
Photo of donkeyrunner
3.23/5  rDev -7.7%

Opaque black with a thick, dark clay head. Swirly skim retention and a few fish bone lace rings.

Aroma is stongly...something. Oak, roasted malt and coffee balanced by a dark chocolate anise sweetness.

Taste is similarly heavy with a juniper menthol...something. Roast malt to the point of char even mildly acrid at times. Dark chocolate sweetness for balance. Belgian yeast mellows what I feel would otherwise be a big bold beer.

It took awhile for for my girlfriend and I to figure out what the something was that really dominates the beer. Eureka, it's cigarette butts! Interesting beer, well done with lots of complexity otherwise.

donkeyrunner, Jun 12, 2011
Photo of chugalug06
1.6/5  rDev -54.3%

A - Below average head. Black body with no hues. not much to talk about with appearance. Very flat and boring.

S - Very licorice. BTW, i'm not a licorice fan... Chocolate behind the licorice.

T - Phew. Tastes like it smells. unique, but nowhere near awesome. Blah. I hate licorice paste.

M - Overly carbonated.. Medium bodied. Very bitter.

O - All over the board... Not my favorite. Glad I tried it, but won't be purchasing more. I'm almost done with Stone after this one... Drain pour.

chugalug06, Jun 12, 2011
Photo of webmanspidey
2.73/5  rDev -22%

Bomber poured into a snifter. Pitch black with around half an inch of head. Smell is dark chocolate with some anise. Taste is bitter and biting: a mix of dark chocolate, anise, hops, and licorice. Pretty offbeat, but not terrible. The mix of flavors and strong booziness makes this slightly hard to drink.

webmanspidey, Jun 12, 2011
Photo of cbutova
3.15/5  rDev -10%

A- Pitch black body with a mocha-tan head that builds to about a finger and retains decently. Falls to a nice ring and pillow leaving spotty lace, that somehow reminds me of Belgian beers.

S- The star anise brings a huge licorice presence to this beer, it comes off in fumes over a huge roast malt, cocoa and Belgian yeast influenced aroma. The resulting product is... eh, kind of jumbled.

T- Once again the licorice anise notes are huge as well as cocoa, coffee and dark roast burnt malt. Belgian yeast brings other spices and dark fruit to the table.

MF- Very warm on the palate and a some bitterness from the heavily roast malts. Thick overall creamy body with high carbonation.

Cold this beer really isn't very good, with some warming and a few more sips it gets better and the flavors somewhat meld. Even with the warmth I would still consider it a bit jumbled and out of balance. After many sips it really starts to drop off.

cbutova, Jun 12, 2011
Photo of ChaseT
1.83/5  rDev -47.7%

Bottle poured into a Spiegelau Stemmed Pilsner glass.

Appearance: Great. Almost black with a slight tinge of brown. Great mocha head that sticks around awhile and is easily restored with a few swirls.

Smell: Bad. Straight anise. Jagermeister has more complexity. This reminds me of a Southern Tier gimmick imperial stout.

Taste: Not much better than the smell. The base beer is so good and this is just not good at all.

Mouthfeel: I'd rate this higher, but it really is hard to appreciate the mouthfeel when it tastes so bad.

Overall: Really not good. Widmer's W'11 KGB Imperial Stout cost 1/3 as much and is way better. I can't believe that Stone was really going to brew this beer without the regular IRS version. That would have been a disaster. I foresee this version sitting on shelves for a long time to come.

ChaseT, Jun 10, 2011
Photo of PeprSprYoFace
3.68/5  rDev +5.1%

Poured into my Stone IRS Snifter. Has a super black color. Thin tan head dissapated to a slight film and ring. Ok lacing.

Aroma is very black liquorish forward. Mostly just roasty after that.

Taste has a bit of caramel but not as much as the aroma would suggest. Seems like those Belgian yeast flavors and the strong roast are kinda clashing.

Mouthfeel is smooth with a bite in the finish. Good carb.

Overall I like regular IRS better. This is just OK.

PeprSprYoFace, Jun 10, 2011
Photo of DirtyDangler
2.2/5  rDev -37.1%

Stone Imperial Russian Stout Belgo Anise or Belgo Anus as I like to call it is a very interesting attempt at a unique boutique beer. While the idea was perhaps a good idea on paper it has proven to be a rather interesting disappointing meld of a good idea with some half-baked innovation. While the IRS is an awesome beer, the Belgo Anus is reminiscent of cough syrup or Nyquil. If you have ever had the misfortune of being ill and subsequently taken a remedy such as cough syrup you will understand the flavor and aroma I am describing.
I am a big fan of stouts and appreciate the intricacies that compose their pronounced flavors. Stone makes a great Imperial Russian Stout as well as Smoked Porter. They clearly have a grasp of this style of beer yet, this batch seems to be a beer gone horribly wrong. Its a good thing they decided to not brew the entirety of the IRS batch with these ingredients and brewed some of the original.

A-Very dark as you would expect from a stout. Dark chocolate appearance with a rich dark head that dissipated quickly to a thin layer. Low carbonation.

S-My first reaction to aroma of the beer was an acrid scent that was reminiscent of cough syrup; very odd. I have never smelled a beer quite like this. side from the pronounced smell of anise, it also had faint aromas of chocolate and roasted malts but these were vastly overpowered by the poignant aromas presented by the anise.

T-To my surprise, the flavor of the beer is very mild in comparison to the smell of the beer. I prepared myself for an immensely overpowering flavor but was in fact taken off guard by the “relatively” mild flavor emitted by the anise. This is a relative statement as the anise still overpowers the other flavors almost to the point where you’re not sure if you’re still drinking IRS. Although the flavor is mild in comparison to the smell it still does not yield the most pleasant flavor. I was not sure what flavors my tongue was detecting but in my book when you're unsure of what you're tasting, its no bueno. I don't really know if I was able to detect the Belgian yeast or the aging of the oak chips. All I know is I was tasting anus. Excuse me, anise.

O-I won't call this beer a flop but I definitely won't call it a success. Perhaps a toned down version will prove to be good. 22oz is far too much bottle for this kind of beer. It was an innovative idea but it seems like the measurements may have been miscalculated somewhere on the way. I mean Stone made their claim to fame with Arrogant Bastard by messing up their measurements. Perhaps this is a victim of the same event but the outcome wasn’t quite as fantastic? Ok so I am either calling it Belgo Anus or Belgo Licoranus.

DirtyDangler, Jun 10, 2011
Photo of DaveHS
3.78/5  rDev +8%

A-Pours shiny obsidian with 1/3 inch of mocha colored head. Moderate sticky lacing.

S-Heavy aromas of anise. A suggestion of oak, but nothing that draws attention to itself.

T/M-Based on my experience with the Belgo Old Guardian, I went in expecting the worst. But this isn't nearly as extreme.For one thing, the base beer is more or less intact. The same roasty, bitter chocolate maltiness and moderately hoppy finish. The anise doesn't add anything, but it also doesn't significantly detract. It's much more significant in the nose than the flavor profile. The oak chips barely come across. The inclusion of Belgian yeast isn't nearly as blustery or estery as in Old Guardian. It's well integrated. Full bodied with low carbonation.

O-Inferior to the original, but I'm glad to see them trying something different. Worth trying once, but I won't bother cellaring any.

DaveHS, Jun 10, 2011
Photo of VelvetExtract
2.3/5  rDev -34.3%

A-Pours obsidian black. No highlights, no light, nothing enters. The coffee colored head forms impressively but dies down quite quickly. There is not much lacing here. Pours a bit less sludgy than other big stouts.

S-The black licorice aroma from the anise is present to a near sickening amount. The anise is almost blocking some of those great roasty and chocolatey scents that make the original Stone IRS so awesome. There is some smoky aroma there as well. All in all, this one is perplexing. I don't love black licorice so I may not be very excited about the impending flavor.

T-The anise sets in quickly. I was expecting it to be more potent, but happily its less serious on the palate than in the nose. Actually, after the second sip...yeah the anise is in full throttle. Once again, the anise is killing the rest of the flavors. This is one of those beers that should have just stayed away from all the gadgets (oaking, anise etc.). Not in the same league as the original Stone IRS.

M-Pretty thick, slick. Low carbonation. The feel is good but the flavor is off. I don;t really want this beer to sit on my tongue.

O/D-Not for me. Didn't know what anise was before this so my own fault here. Just not as good as the original. Not a drain pour, only because I am too stubborn to pour most anything out. Just not for me. This one's going to take a while to finish... Belgo Anise; more like Belgo Anus.

VelvetExtract, Jun 09, 2011
Photo of snpub540
3.25/5  rDev -7.1%

Sounded very interesting so I thought id give it a whirl.

Poured a black hue into my oversized wine glass with a. One finger brown head of bubbles that quicckly faded into a very thin ring.

Smell was of roasted malts coffee some pine and anise. You can definately tell by this point that the anise is going to be a major player.

Flavors were all the great things you expect from Stone IRS bitter roasted malts, vanilla, coffee, toast, until the anise kicked in and took over. Its not a sweet faint anise flavor this is like taking a bite out of a fennel bulb. I think it was too much and took away from the greatness of the regular recipe.

Mouthfeel was thick and good. Creamy at times it made for a nice texture. Alcohol flavor was pretty subdued with everything else goin on. I love Stone but I think this was a miss. I applaud them for breaking from the norm and trying something new and will still buy almost everything they put out, but this just wasn't my cup of tea.

snpub540, Jun 09, 2011
Photo of rudzud
4/5  rDev +14.3%

Picked up from Julio's. One bottle for now, one bottle for a few years from now.

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a rich, oily black with an almost two finger mocha head that receeded to leave a mocha halo with minimal side lacing.

S - Cool, you can get some nice roasty malts and some slight chocolate along with light anise. As it warms though everythign is overpowered by the anise, theres some alcohol notes as well.

T - Very much like the nose. It starts with some nice roastd malts and chocolate, but all that is quickly overwhelmed by the anise. That being said I really dig the anise potentcy. Looking forward to see how this ages.

M - Low carbonation which is to be expected with this style. Its a touch syrupy, but I can accept that. Slightly creamy but the alcohol definately present.

O - Overall, I like this beer, but I feel its too rough around the edges. With time this could mellow out into something really, really nice.

rudzud, Jun 08, 2011
Photo of Dawgmeat
4.55/5  rDev +30%

Great first taste of Anise in a brew for me. Very pleasant and so very tasty. Stone's flagship IRS that I tried for the first time almost a decade ago was a semi-nasty trip for me, but now I know and appreciate GREAT beer. Been a semi-rookie for some time now but this HOP head is coming around, FINALLY!!

-Doug

Dawgmeat, Jun 08, 2011
Photo of bohemiandonut
2.6/5  rDev -25.7%

I have been equally dreading and anticipating my review of this beer. Not realizing that the traditional Stone IRS would also make an appearance this year, I had been holding a grudge against all things "Belgo" for months. Let's see what's going on.

Pours like a familiar friend, but one that once lifted to the nose is suddenly run over by a Good & Plenty truck. Okay I admit it's not too bad, but I must submit that Belgian yeast, anise, and oak chips are perhaps the three flavor "enhancements" most likely to fail as far as my experience goes. I can smell those taunting oak chips, the missing chocolate depth, replaced by an herbal nightmare that I'm actually putting off tasting. Well, here goes nothing.

The taste is odd, full of licorice, and thankfully easy on the oak chips. The alcohol is masked quite well, and Stone strikes a fairly nice balance here between the sweetness of the yeast, dry malts, and subtle bitter hops. If you're a fan of anise, anise, anise, and Stone IRS, lucky you. Myself, I won't be having this again any time soon. Very glad to see IRS back on the shelves though, those were some expensive months without it.

bohemiandonut, Jun 07, 2011
Photo of SkunkWorks
4/5  rDev +14.3%

22 oz bottle poured into a Southampton IRS release day snifter. From the 2011, odd beers for odd years version.

Look: dark brown body, black body if you hold it away from a light, strikingly similar to the ordinary Stone IRS. An aggressive pour yields a thin layer of tan head with minimal retention and no lacing. Dark red highlights are around the edge of my glass.

Smell: woah. Licorice/star anise really dominates with a bit of oak. The licorice aroma is really dominating. A bit of dark chocolate is there too, but nothing really sticks out from the base beer.

Taste: follows the nose with an incredibly aggressive licorice flavor and a bit of tannic, oaky woodiness. There's not much Belgian yeast inspired flavors, and the licorice is so aggressive its hard to pick anything else out except for a little dark chocolate. Its certainly an interesting spin on the style.

Feel: full bodied, chewy, creamy, without much alcohol warmth. Certainly a sipper and the aggressive licorice flavor fatigues my palate a little bit by the end.

Overall: decent, but not an improvement over the normal IRS and not the best of the Stone IRS variants. After downright hating the Belgo Old Guardian, I thought this would be disgusting and was pleasantly surprised when it wasn't. If you don't like licorice, do not bother with this beer, because its pretty much like chewing on melted licorice. If licorice is your thing, give this one a go, but don't expect anything from the base Stone IRS to peek through.

SkunkWorks, Jun 07, 2011
Photo of bobhits
1.7/5  rDev -51.4%

Dark deep brown with a decent head, looks more or less just like their regular stout only perhaps a touch less head.

I’d never heard of anise before having this, turns out it’s a spice that tastes much like black liquorish. Apparently, Stone really like this spice because it more or less dominates the aromas and everything else is left out.

The flavor is even worse with the anise just controlling everything. Yes, there is oak in the finish to mellow things out, sure chocolate is apparent, and it does have some roasted flavors. This isn’t anything like their traditional Russian Imperial. It is so odd and off that even calling it an Imperial Stout seems a touch out of line.

Thick and creamy in the mouth with virtually no alcohol to be noticed.

This beer is an amazing failure. Their attempt with the Old Guardian very well could age for a few years and become a decent beer and at least it came out as a crazy different version of the original. This is just awful beer.

bobhits, Jun 07, 2011
Photo of grittybrews
4.1/5  rDev +17.1%

Poured just a shade lighter than black into a tulip with two fingers of dark khaki head. Heavy licorice/anise aroma with hints of spice ("mild Jägermeister" might be more concise).

Moderate carbonation and a full, creamy mouthfeel. Black licorice up front followed by subtle coffee, dark cocoa, and more bitter/spicy licorice on the warm and boozy finish.

Really enjoyed this brew -- it's a nice complement to Stone's standard IRS. Will I buy a bunch of bottles for the cellar, though? Probably not.

grittybrews, Jun 06, 2011
Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
80 out of 100 based on 910 ratings.