Stone Imperial Russian Belgo Stout | Stone Brewing

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Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
This draft-only offering was Stone 2010 IRS with Belgian yeast. It is NOT the same beer as the Stone Belgo Anise IRS released in 2011, as this version did not contain oak chips or anise.

All bottle reviews should be moved here -

Added by drabmuh on 10-06-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 16 | Ratings: 50
Photo of seedyone
4.6/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

11/14/12 On tap. I'm usually skeptical of Stone's stuff, they seem to be hop happy. As a big Imperial stout kind of guy, but this really hit the spot. Wonderfully smooth. Not too sweet. Perfect body. I think I'm in love. Makes me wonder if they got this so right, why we disagree on so much of the rest?

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Photo of rudzud
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed at the BBF.

A - Poured a nice oily black with a good mocha head that fades to leave nice thick lacing.

A - Nice roasted malts and chocolate with some light coffee. BIG anise notes though. Slightly overpower.

T - Yep, the anise definately overpowers this. There is some nice typical stone RIS notes, you know...the tasty Stone RIS. You've got that and suddenly POW, black licorice. WAAY too over the top.

M - Nice RIS mouthfeel. Smooth, creamy, lightly carbonated, ABV hidden nicely.

O - Its a nice RIS, but like pretty much all stone belgo's its just not good. Hell, I think this has more anise than the belgo anise stout version! Would buy a bottle though to see how aging it helps things mellow out.

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Photo of dedrinker
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm not a fan of spiced American/ English beers, and I usually despise most oaked craft beers from the U.S. as well (most, not all).

The aroma is sweet oak, chocolate, anise and some kind of powdery sugared cake.

The taste is an interplay of the bitter chocolate from roasted malts, the vanilla-spice character from the oak, and of course star anise...from the star anise. These flavors dance about together without stepping each others toes, which is a welcome relief from the usual cloying flavor bombs of modern craft beer USA where the brewers must have been children that never got sick or tired of eating all their Halloween candy on the same night.

I'm not picking up any fermentation character from the Belgian yeast. Could be just me though.

Full but smooth body leads to a oaky, boozy, anise finish. It does get sweeter and a bit cloying as you get to the end if it has warmed up enough. This one probably has a narrow temperature range of maximum enjoyment.

I bet it would be pretty gnarly to braise some beef or pork with, or add to a stew. Since I won't ever have this again I could just use my go-to RIS (Old Rasputin) and add some chinese 5 spice powder to that flat iron steak as it slowly braises in my covered cast iron skillet at 250 degrees for a couple hours in the oven. Served with a heap of roasted onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers over potatoes.

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Photo of nlmartin
3.61/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Belgo Olde Guardian was simply the most awful beer I had last year. With that said you know I was not planning on trying Belgo RIS. My wife bought the beer and was dying for me to hit this one. So after chilling the beer and serving into 2 Imperial Pint glasses. Yes if I was going to suffer through this one your dam right she was getting some.

A- The body of the beer is black and impenetrable to light. The head is the color of nugget and about one finger high. Nice lacing marks the beers passage from the glass.

S- Waves of anise and oak ride a tide of darkly roasted malt and chocolate.

T- Anise flavored chocolate balls dark roasted and chared malt combined with a hint of dark fruit. A bit of a chalky flavor peaks out from time to time. The flavors seem to improve the more the beer warms.

M- The body of the beer is full and lightly carbonated. No alcohol is noted in the mouth.

O- This beer was no where near the terror, no the horror of Belgo Olde Guardian. I am very curious as to what this beer will be like in a year or two.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into Stone tulip.

A: pours just like the base beer, dark black, opaque, viscous body, thin collar of cocoa colored head, minimal retention

S: nose features a hint of bubblegum up front and then comes in with big wave of cocoa and anise. I'm not a huge fan of licorice, but find that it's character pairs quite nicely with the chocolate and Belgian yeast.

T: tastes starts sweet with some candied fruit and bubblegum, this is brief and takes a turn towards the realm of stout. Big bold roasted notes come through with creamy chocolate, hints at vanilla, and a considerable profile of anise. Nice balance, but for my money, I prefer the base beer version.

MF: nice full bodied stout, low carb

O: definitely a unique stout, better than some of the other "Belgo" stouts that I've tried. Unfortunately, I find that the extra flavors detract from what was already a hugely successful beer.

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Photo of DCon
4.72/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed on-tap @ Silvio's Brazilian BBQ in Hermosa Beach, CA for $9. Tapped from the Black Stone Handle with White Writing saying "Belgo Russian Stout" into a 8oz Wine Glass.

Aroma- A very rich and complexed beer! Has huge bourbon, oak, cherry, and chocolate aromas. There is even a hint of coffee here.

Appearance- Received with a .5 finger, dark brown head that dies down immediately. Deep Brown color body and can't see anything else beyond this. Very small amount of lace on the glass.

Flavor- Nice, rich taste that starts with good maltiness and ends with a burnt flavor. There is a chocolate, coffee, and roasted flavor throughout. Huge bitterness, but the bite is perfect. Almost has a taste like an aged beer with all the complexity!

Mouthfeel- Full Bodied, Medium Carbonation, Chewy, and leaves the tongue with coffee on it.

Overall Impression- Wow! What an intense and complexed beer. I have never seen this one before and thus is the reason I went for it! The beer is very comparable to a barleywine in many of its attributes! Tough to drink and could never drink more than 16oz of this in one day. Will try to get some of this home to enjoy if I can find in a bottle!

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Photo of beerandnugs
3.66/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice beer, booze is hidden well. The anise smooths the brew out and the belgian yeast provides a interesting complexity. There are slight sherry like oxidation / higher alcohol notes that round the beer out. The body was smooth wish there was more foam. Good beer, will have again !

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Photo of Rizalini
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into my Deschutes tulip...

A - Pours midnight black, with a creamy light brown head that slowly fades leaving slight lacing.

S - Warming anise hits my nose immediately. The anise smell is very big, but behind the big black licorice aroma, I pick up some dark fruits, and dark roasted malts.

T - Not nearly as anise tasting as the smell would lead you to belive. It's there, but not overpowering. Very malty, chocolatey, and even notes of espresso.

M - Has a medium-heavy mouthfeel. Great carbonation.

O - A great variation of a great RIS. I have always loved Stone's RIS, and being the 1st year they're bottling this beer, I bought a few! Can't wait to see what this tastes like with some age on it.

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Photo of flannelman808
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the 2011 Belgo RIS with Anise and Oak chips ...

A: Very dark brown with just a hint of burnt ochre around the edges. A thick tan pancake batter head tops it off with good retention and very good lacing.

S: Anise is very present along with a Belgian spicy yeasty quality and Dark chocolate along with vanilla oak.

T: Rich cacao powder bitterness meets anise and a drying oaky quality. Finishing with a spicy chalky chocolate quality. There is a very nice balance between sweet and bitter, finally finishing on the bitter side.

M: Chalky and lengthy.

O: I think this is pretty interesting and overall a successful beer. Certainly a unique twist on a Russian Imperial Stout and dirt cheap (I think 6 bucks a bomber). Absolutely worth trying out. I would be curious to see how it ages but I would guess its going to be best in the next few months.

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Photo of xraided81
2.44/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

poured from a 22 oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.6/4/11
A:pours a jet black with. excellent head retention with a tan head that has not dissipated after sitting in the glass for a few minutes.
S:Roasted malts dominate the aroma, and overpower the belgian yeast, the anise black licorice aroma is competing with the roasted grains as the glass warms up.
T:Licorice/anise dominates the taste in this imperial stout. the anise amplifies the bitterness of the roasted malts and generous hopping of this imperial stout.
M: is rich and full bodied beer like what an imperial stout should be.

This would be better off without the anise, would be curious to know what this beer tasted like without the anise overpowering this beer. Bad job of making the flavor intertwine with each other, would like to taste the black licorice in the aftertaste, rather than it being the dominant flavore. probably the worst stoen beer i've ever had. Ironic that i thought the Belgo Old Gaurdian was one of the best Stone beers ive ever had. Will not buy this again.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.55/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the Stone Total Tap Takeover in Baltimore

A-jet black color with a dark tan colored head.

S-fruity belgian yeast with notes of lemon pepper, hints of windex with sprinkles of chocolate.

T-more lemon pepper spicy yeast in the flavor than the nose, roasted malts make an appearance with some dark fruity sweetness and a light note of stale coffee and bitterness.

M-this has a medium body with a creamy feel, a little messy towards the back with a moderate carbonation and a crisp semi-dry finish.

D-balanced and different with a fruity sweetness and nice spice to it. interesting beer and very different, not mind blowing and a lighter body that I would like but good.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours out an essentially black body with a thick, persistent, light beige-hued head.

Smell: Still contains the chocolaty, coffee-hinted, roasty aromas of the original, but it seems softer, less punchy. The aroma gains some enduring spicy phenols and a vigorous dark fruitiness teamed with a bit of banana.

Taste: Sweet, sugared, coffee-toned roastiness enveloping melty chocolate morsels given a sweetness boost from a few sugar packets. Slightly elevated fruitiness of faintly tart plums, prunes, and even a bit of banana. Spicy traces of licorice powder and coriander throughout the flavor. Complimentary bitterness, though still seemingly less than one would find in the original. Finishes a tad sweet with a small sip of chocolate-flavored coffee and slowly closes with a lingering fruitiness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium-plus carbonation.

Drinkability: The selected Belgian yeast strain provides for some fun, new nuances. It's a nice novelty, though I would still take the original Stone RIS over this.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.61/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Naja's

A: The pour is nearly black with a finger's worth of tan head.

S: I don't necessarily get all that much Belgian character, but plenty of RIS. Lots of licorice, raisins, dark chocolate, heavy roast, and coffee.

T: Firstly, the alcohol is nowhere near as potent as it usually is in a fresher batch of the IRS. Roast, lots of licorice, and perhaps more dark fruit and bread than I usually get in the regular version.

M: Fairly full bodied, but not syrupy or chewy. A low to moderate carbonation.

D: This was a nice one to try, but I think I prefer the original thing.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Small Bar Logan Square. Served in a goblet.

A - Pours with a generous amount of tan foam that settles to a thin ring and leaves behind splotchy lace. The body is pitch black.

S - Belgian yeast, anise, bitter dark chocolate. There's a bread character that definitely isn't present in the normal IRS. Quite distinct, but really attenuates the sweetness found in the regular version.

T - Huge Belgian yeast, anise, bitter espresso. Smells like a Belgian strong dark ale. There's a bit too much licorice here for my tastes though, and not enough fruity sweetness.

M - Very dry, medium body that's thinner than the regular IRS. Medium-low carbonation. Pretty typical Belgian stout texture.

D - Tough slugging at this point in the night. Too much yeast and anise, not enough balancing sweetness. Perhaps it needed some candi sugar?

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Churchkey.

Pours a deep, dark brown bordering on black with a thin light mocha head and not too much lacing. Nose is primarily chocolate and a bit of roasted malt. Some spicy esters make their way in, although they weren't readily identifiable to me. Taste brings the flavors together a bit more, with some dark fruit and a hint of spice coming through behind roasted chocolate and hints of espresso. Mouthfeel is quite nice and creamy, with a good level of carbonation. Drinks pretty well, although like Matt said, there were too many beers to get all but the absolute best more than once.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not sure why this isn't on here, its on RB. Who knows? Beer served on draft at Churchkey's stone take over event. Beer is black with a brown thin head that leaves some lacing on the glass. Beer is brown at the corners.

Aroma is a mixture of malt and some estery notes from the yeast I presume. There is some chocolate as well.

Beer is medium body with minimal carbonation on the palate. The yeast character from the Belgian yeast is a little lost in the sweetness and overall bitterness from the roasted grains. I can tease it out but its not forward. Its got a nice feel to it and I would try it again perhaps, there were so many beers that night that I only got this once.

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Stone Imperial Russian Belgo Stout from Stone Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 16 ratings.
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