Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

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

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442 Reviews
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Reviews: 442
Hads: 929
rAvg: 3.52
pDev: 19.89%
Wants: 17
Gots: 160 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: EgadBananas on 05-23-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 442 | Hads: 929
Photo of avalon07
4.36/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a jet black color and a thick, opaque consistency. There was a big, creamy, tan-colored, long-lasting head. Excellent lacing. An great-looking beer.

S: Not surprisingly, the anise was front and center in the smell, along with some chocolate, malt, and coffee.

T: Like the smell, the anise was a dominant force, though this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Also had traces of chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, and a little hops in the finish. Not your typical stout flavor, but very tasty.

M: A lot of carbonation and a typically slick finish. Full-bodied.

O: Because this beer doesn't conform to typical stout norms, some people won't like it. I think the anise is an interesting and creative addition to the style. (762 characters)

Photo of xnicknj
2.48/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

22oz bottle poured into snifter

Pours a viscous blackness with a thin layering of tanned head. Retains for a minute, leaving some spotty lacing on the glass.

A stiff kick of anise in the nose with some Belgian funk. Slightly sweet with chocolate and coffee. Malty and robust with alcohol warmth.

Syrupy and sweet up front with an initial kick of unmistakable anise. Dark chocolate with dark roasted malts, supported by and underlying Belgian yeast funk. Definitely an odd combination of flavors, followed by some sweetness. Finishes a little sweet with an alcohol heat.

Fuller body, decent carbonation, sticky and chewy on the tongue. I enjoy the base beer, but this is not what I'm looking for in an imperial stout. WAY too much anise and the funky yeast doesnt help. (775 characters)

Photo of Cyberkedi
3.91/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a luscious and very tempting opaque sable with a thick, frothy tan head that leaves a fair amount of lacing. Strong, smoky aroma has tones of unsweet chocolate, fine coffee, licorice and fresh-cut wood, with a firm overtone of anise. Flavor has chocolate, roast coffee, licorice and nutty tones, but anise dominates everything a little too much. It's almost like drinking absinthe. This would be a near-perfect - or possibly perfect - if the anise aroma and flavor were a mite or three less fierce. Full-bodied texture is fairly fizzy and sharp - you can sure feel it going down the pipes. Recommended to those who are adventurous when it comes to beer! (659 characters)

Photo of tectactoe
2.95/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.25

Pours a jet black color with a very small amount of sediment that can be seen floating near the edges of the glass. Thick, deep, tan-leather head that retains extremely well. The nose is full of roasted malts and a bit of anise. The taste is full of anise. Black licorice, along with a bit of figs and raisins, but mostly licorice (anise) and it finishes VERY sweet. It's almost hard to believe it's a RIS, because the sweetness covers up most of the bitterness at all. It's actually a bit too sweet and the anise really overpowers the other flavors. The body is nice, very thick and creamy with a bit of carbonation.

I don't know if I'd go so far as to call this a bad beer, but it's certainly not for me, and not really what I'm looking for in a RIS. The anise is a little too overpowering and licorice-heavy for me, leaving a sweetness that is acceptable at first, but starts to get to you halfway through. (910 characters)

Photo of clayrock81
3.83/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured a brownish, almost blackish body with decent head and lace patches. Hate to say it but the "jager" comparisons hold some validity as it has that overpowering licorice/anise type aroma and is dominant in the taste. That being said, I didn't find that to be the only aromatic or taste sensation and I wouldn't call this beer a disaster (just not a fave of mine). There are also touches of dark chocolate and some other sticky, almost syrupy sugary malt goodness in the aroma and taste. Smooth beer, lighter body for a stout, actually easy to drink and overall isn't bad but sometimes the sweetness, especially that "jager" aspect, become to much at times. Worth trying but not something I will try to find again (which won't be hard). (739 characters)

Photo of barnzy78
3.33/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

First review in awhile, although still tasting many beers, just no time to review. Pours black with a chocolaty brown head. Aroma is straight up anise, reminds me of the cigar black licorice candy I used to buy as a kid. Tastes are anise on the forefront with some roasted maltiness, dark chocolate, and a hint of espresso - similar to the regular Stone IRS. No sense of Belgian yeasts in the flavor, but I was hoping this would somehow balance out the anise, but it's non-existent and the anise overpowers any sort of balance that could have been. As it warms, the anise does seem to wither a bit, but it's still present. Mouth-feel is full and creamy with a sort of oiliness that gets left on the palate. Overall, I was disappointed in this one. Luckily I do like the flavors of anise, otherwise this could have been a complete bomb as it appears to be for some other reviewers. (880 characters)

Photo of VelvetExtract
2.34/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

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. (1,409 characters)

Photo of champ103
2.02/5  rDev -42.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

A: Pours pretty much opaque black. A two finger tan head rises with good retention. Light lace is left as the foam gently recedes after a few minutes.
S: Of coarse black liquorish/anise in the nose, and it is a little overwhelming at first. Big roasted a burnt coffee aromas come next. Charred and burnt wood with bitter dark chocolate. Some bitter and oily hops with plenty of alcohol in the nose.
T: Everything that is in the nose, and it all works at odds with each other. Black liquorish, burnt coffee, bitter chocolate. Burnt and charred wood with lots of burning alcohol. Oily hops that gives this another bitter bite on top of the chocolate. I am not a fan.
M/D: A full, syrupy, and oily body. Very thick, viscous, and like adhesive sticking to the roof of my mouth. Very hot alcohol and just all around unpleasant to drink. A chore to finish the bottle.

Another harsh, unbalanced, and crass beer from Stone. Nothing works right here. I will avoid from now on, and would not recommend this. (998 characters)

Photo of Brenden
4/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at The Attic for the Stone event and just found my notes.

This one comes from tap to snifter a very dark brown color with a light brown cap of head. Retention is good and lacing drops some spidery legs in plenty.
The licorice I expect from the anise is there along with the additional almost coriander seed-like note. The Belgian yeast is evident but doesn't take away from the stout character. This is, of course, well-hopped, offering some citrus, herbal and flowery notes under a big malt. This is a good aroma, but something's missing that6 would push it beyond that. I had Weyerbacher's tiny a few weeks before this, and it just had more depth to it.
I can say tyhe same for the taste. The big malts base is there, roasty, chocolatey and coffee notes laying a backbone complemented by herbal, floral and citrus hops gently in the back. The anise doesn't mingle perfectly with the contrasting flavors, but refrains from being off-putting. Belgian yeast huddles underneath and whispers here and there. Flavors are big and may cover it up a bit.
The mouthfeel is a big and full as an RIS should be. Smoothness comes out from middle to finish and this beer goes down nicely despite the high ABV.
This seems like a good standard for an interesting beer. Having had Tiny, I'd say that beer would be the exceptional one in what will -probably be a series of attempts from many brewers, and this one will remain a solid, good example of the style. 4s across the board. (1,484 characters)

Photo of ColForbinBC
4/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, poured into a snifter

Pours an ink black with a small brown layer of foam. Head dissipates quickly and leaves a star shaped patch of foam on top of the liquid.

The aroma is of anise/black licorice, roasted (almost burnt) malt, plums, and some dark chocolate. A unique aroma, but a little off from what the regular IRS brings to the table (if my memory serves correct). The layer of grassy hops is barely noticeable.

Flavor follows the nose here. A hearty layer of star anise/licorice with a burnt and bitter flavor from the roasted malt and dark chocolate, respectively. Some plums and dark cherries to round everything out.

Full bodied with some warming in the finish. Carbonation is on point as the feel is soft, smooth and luxurious.

Overall, I was not as turned off by the anise as others have mentioned on the forums and in their reviews. I thought it was a unique take on an already solid IRS and something I would try again. (950 characters)

Photo of OWSLEY069
4.03/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black, with a light brown head. In the aroma, mellow anise, oaky, and a touch of alcohol. In the taste, Anise, licorice, small notes of oak and alcohol. A smooth and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry oak, licorice, and alcohol in the aftertaste. Interesting flavors, quite enjoyable. (297 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
3.31/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Thanks Chris for sharing!

(A)- Pours a pitch black color. Some tan froth and lace.

(S)- Straight up licorice and lots of it! Pretty much all there is. VERY subtle bits of molasses and raisin.

(T)- Again, mountains of licorice like the smell was. Not much else to it besides licorice really. SOME roasted qualities, but subtle.

(M)- A mellow carbonation level. The balance is ok, but you really really gotta love black licorice.

(D)- Again, if you do not like black licorice, stay far away from this one. It was still enjoyable, but I am also not a big black licorice fan. (612 characters)

Photo of maximum12
3.69/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Glad to have found this, the first year the Stone IRS have been available in the Twin Cities, & they vanished fast in most places. Luckily, the holes in the walls hang on to them a mite longer. Split with my wife, who is watching Heidi Klum, which always seems like a smart thing to do.

Pours is black, about tells that story. Smell is rich as trump, decadent chocolate, more chocolate, a weird/pleasing edge that must be star anise, cocoa chocolate, samuel jackson chocolate. Damn man, that's one good smell.

Stone Belgo Anise IRS smells great, is very filling, & doesn't taste as good as the nose promises. The Belgian yeast is overdone & distracting, being the first thing that leaps out of the morass of soulless black. The great chocolate nose goes MIA with only patterings of powdered cocoa showing. Malts are tangled up in the sweetness of the anus, I mean anise, & taste like sweet black licorice. Nice & creamy, but this would be tough slogging through more than 11 oz.

It's finally come to me: this tastes like Jaegermeister's lightweight little brother. Does that bring back a few bad memories or what? Glad I got to try it, but this is one & done for me, a good beer that stretches the boundaries. Always glad to see that. (1,239 characters)

Photo of AgentMunky
3.77/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a BrewDog cervoise glass. Vintage 2011. From notes. Reviewed 9 July 2011.

A: Super-dark with vague head and little lacing. I like it.

S: Loads of licorice! Pungent and powerful anise. I like it a lot.

T/M: The beer is creamy with lots of chocolate...and obscene amounts of anise. It's mostly pleasant, but soon gets old and the licorice reminds me strongly of mouthwash.

O: Interesting. I would recommend trying it, but wouldn't consume any more of them. (493 characters)

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.17/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In a tulip glass this beer was black in color with a small orange/tan head that dissipated quickly.

Coffee/roasted malt aroma. Definitely anise. Some dark fruit. And alcohol, don't forget that.

Lots going on in the taste. Coffee and a bit of chocolate. Raisins. Anise, which really lingered. Boozy.

A heavy hitter. Boozy, but in a good way. The alcohol added to, rather than subtracted from,the taste. (404 characters)

Photo of mynie
4.03/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ok, whatever...

It's Stone's RIS. It's smooth, it's got a nice body, and it's easy to drink. Not as rough or variegated as your superfancy top tier RIS', but pretty dang good.

Only in the very back you get a weird/neat bit of rockiness that tastes like smoke and beer jerky. After a few sips I realized it was the anise, but I don't think i would have known it was anise had the bottle not specifically prompted me to look for it.

So, overall pretty good. The anise probably detracts more than it adds, but it was neat to try and I enjoyed the whole bottle. (561 characters)

Photo of Immortale25
3.04/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into an Evolution Brewing pint glass. Can't find a freshness date.

A- Pours a deep black color with zero light showing through. Has nearly a two-finger head that reduces slowly to an 1/8 inch head with a generous amount of foam and bubbles floating on top. Great lacing that has webs of bubbles sticking to the glass.

S- Heavy, spicy licorice comes through in the aroma. Sweet and herbal smells combined with a pungent funkiness that almost seems like infection but not really. What is this going to taste like?

T- Woah. Again, intense licorice obviously brought on by the anise. Can't get that funky Belgian flavor because of the spices and herbs being so overpowering. Eesh. The aroma doesn't meld together well with the taste, leaving the overall experience confusing and disorienting. Kind of a sweet, marshmallowy vibe going on that doesn't compliment the intense malt profile at all. Struggling to find some merit or concept in this combination of flavors.

M- Creamy and smooth unlike the taste. High alcohol and heavy carbonation leaves a burn in my stomach and throat though.

O- I've been waiting to try this for a while since I've seen so many people slam it claiming it's a drainpour. I love just about everything Stone does and wanted to see for myself. Well, they were about right. Just too many off flavors that don't work well together. Pretty unpleasant to drink. Smells good and looks good but, after that, it pretty much strikes out. I'm finding it hard to get down even one glass of it. A classic example of a beer that's just too damn extreme in all the wrong ways.

Update: Drank it again and have decided there's just way too much anise. Made it through most of the bomber but, sadly, had to drainpour the rest. (1,744 characters)

Photo of cbutova
3.16/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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. (936 characters)

Photo of Pencible
3.83/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This poured a nearly opaque black, with moderate dark tan head.
S: It smelled like black licorice and bitter dark chocolate, with roasted coffee and a bit of copper hops.
T: It tasted like black licorice and roasted coffee, with bitter dark chocolate and a bit of molasses. It had a bitter but clean aftertaste, with a bit of alcohol warming.
M: It was somewhat thick with moderate carbonation. Nice and fully body.
D: This was a very nice and unique stout. The anise was nicely incorporated and balanced with the typical stout flavors, I thought. Almost like a shot of Jaeger in a standard Stone IRS. The body was great, and it wasn't too hot, so it was easy enough to drink. I'm curious how age may change/improve this brew. But it's nice fresh, and worth trying at least once. (782 characters)

Photo of blackie
4.16/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bomber from whole foods

a: served in a sweet unibroue tulip, the pour creates a thin topping of mocha colored head, falling back to leave a placid surface, the beer itself a deep black in color with some browns peeking through the edges

s: a steady current of star anise weaves licorice aromas through a body of deep roasted barley and dark chocolate, impressions of root beer and sassafras root, toffee and vanilla, molasses, some oaky spice, fresh genuine licorice - prominent but not overpowering the base beer but rather adding a nice compliment

m: carbonation on the lower end of the moderate range, gentle on the tongue, with a full bodied mouthfeel

t: the palate brings a pungent star anise flavor over roasted barley, dark chocolate, and burnt sugars, additional flavors of molasses, vanilla, spicy roots - sassafras, and sweet alcohol, hops impart a moderate bitterness to to the finish, the blend of flavors works out well - I can dig what the anise brings to an ris

o: obviously not for everybody - but I dig it, the anise blends well with the ris base and the oak adds a spicy vanilla complexity, not unlike a number of dark european anise liqueurs, a big beer with an interesting complex of characters

consumed on a snowy january eve (1,252 characters)

Photo of jera1350
3.68/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a solid black with a brown head of foam. Fair lacing on the glass.

Roasty, malty, light star anise and wood nose. Licorice stands out the most out of all scents.

The flavor is a deep roasted malt base with black licorice that is not overpowering as other reviewers have noted. Picking up some of the oak chips near the end. Impossible to tell there is belgian yeast used here, but whatever. Nice overall taste.

Full and smooth. Gets pretty dry on the finish.

This was a nice version of an imperial stout. The star anise works well with the base and the overall beer was enjoyable. (590 characters)

Photo of FosterJM
3.61/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

578th Review on BA
Bottle to snifter
22 oz

Purchased at Bevmo Chino Hills, served at 57 F

App- This looks like the original RIS and contained a huge three finger head. Not much in the way of cling. Very khaki in color and very bubbly.

Smell- It's a soft aromatic beer which I was not expecting. The anise and the oak are quite prevalent but that's about it. The toasty roasted malts aren't there. More one sided than anything.

Taste- For the uniqueness of this beer I was expecting to have a face of WTF did I just drink. I had the '11 RIS the other night and it was quite tasty. This seems to be a bit of a base stout with some pepper notes and some sweetness.

Mouth- I like the feel of the pepper, sweet and bubbly. It's medium bodied and a bit higher in carbonation. The bubbles dance and it's quite nice.

Drink- It's an oddity for sure. The flavors are balanced and unique. For every other year this is a nice break from the ordinary. I'll have it again in 2013. (972 characters)

Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
4.08/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a tulip

A: Pours a very dark brown and settles into an opaque black with a spongy tan head and slow moving bubbles, what I’ve come to expect from their Imperial Russian Stouts.

S: Aroma is confusing and intriguing: strong licorice up front closely followed by sweet chocolate, and if you smell it long enough, there are hints of root beer, really powerful stuff.

T/M: Texture is super thick and syrupy with a low amount of carbonation. Black licorice begins the experience followed quickly by molasses and chocolate sweetness, a roasted — almost charred — malt character, a tiny bit of nuttiness and a faint but lingering sting of alcohol. It’s so smooth, the bite at the end is barely noticeable unless you focus on it.

This is definitely a strange take on the traditional imperial stout but once it’s dissected, it’s very enjoyable. (872 characters)

Photo of Holland
1.95/5  rDev -44.6%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A: looks just like an imperial russian stout should - thick, heavy head, great lacing, very dark with brownish head.

S: black liquorice overpowers all of the other fantastic smells I know are hidden in the stout. Would be fine, but it's the only thing I can smell. I get a little bit of the yeast esters.

T: bitter black liquorice all over again. Terrible. Some earthy tones and sweet yeast esters.

M: standard for IRS. Rich, full feeling in the mouth that isn't matched by the beer.

O: this is the worst craft beer I have ever tried. Just aweful. Give me a macro brew over this. What a waste of great ingredients. Anise killed this beer. (646 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
3.46/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours black with a thick dark brown head that faded into a thin wispy film that left behind a great network of sticky lacing down the glass.
S: Black licorice, anise, rich fudge brownies and a bit of roast fill my nose. The anise really stands out and dominates just about all other scents.
T: Rich and chocolaty flavor with the anise coming through near the finish. I get a hint of vanilla mixed with sweet roasted malts as well. The anise wasn’t as strong as the nose, but there is still a pretty good amount of it.
M: Medium-thick body with a clean and chewy mouthfeel. Carbonation is even and smooth.
O: Definitely a love it or hate it beer. This was too much anise for me to ever want to drink it again, but I didn’t think it was so awful that it could not be consumed. I’ll stick to the regular version from now on. (860 characters)

Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
80 out of 100 based on 442 ratings.