Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian StoutBelgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by EgadBananas on 05-23-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 447 | Ratings: 939
Photo of SlyFox21
4.95/5  rDev +41%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked up a 22 oz from Riddle Road Market for 7.99, best selection for how small the store is. Worth seeking out, if you are in Cincinnati, and particularly if you are near the University of Cincinnati.

Poured into a Warsteiner Stein Glass

Appearance: Pours a jet black, with a little bit of head that lingers for a while. Lacing stays for several minutes.

Aroma:Very complex, can smell the roasted malts, coffee and cocoa, with a discernible sweetness lingering in there.

Taste: Starts off with a bittersweet taste of the belgian yeast, brown sugar, cocoa. Fairly light tasting for a stout, but still very complex. Finishes off with a long lingering coffee cocoa hops taste. Very delicious.

Mouthfeel: Fairly thick, but lighter than I was expecting. I would describe it as medium for a thick imperial stout standard. This is the only shortcoming to me for the beer. Still very satisfying.

Overall: A very good beer, probably one of my favorites to date. It has a worderfully bittersweet taste to it that lingers for a long time, very complex, good mouthfeel. I would expect this to be good, having come from Stone, my favorite brewery. Will look for this one in the future, and is definitely worth seeking out.

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Photo of ctbrow1
4.88/5  rDev +39%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer has become my new fave. It just seems to take over your mouth. Hitting all of the taste buds. Yummy yummy in my tummy. The only negative appears that supplies are limited. Andiamo in Eagan has this available for the average joe sitting at the bar.

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Photo of MadCat
4.82/5  rDev +37.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stone seems to be getting some flack for these Odd Year releases. And they're not getting as good of reviews as the regular version does either. But I think this is a perfect example of Stone doing what Stone does best, making crazy beers that aren't for everybody, and it just so happens that they've finally hit the note where its clear that they aren't for all Beer Advocates either. Which is totally cool for me, because that hopefully means more Belgo Anise IRS for me!

Appearance: Like the standard IRS, this pours a thick black color with a muddy brown head that doesn't get too big or stick around, but it does leave decent lacing.

Smell: This is an anise bomb! Tons of anise in the nose, with plenty of chocolate, caramel, coffee, oak, and roasted malts in the background. A less discerning nose might only get anise out of this, but the beauty lies in that they didn't mask what makes the regular IRS so good.

Taste: Again, you get hit with tons of anise up front, with chocolate, caramel, coffee, oak, and roasted malts backing it up, and then a nice sweet anise finish to it. It is exactly what Stone says it is on the bottle, tons of anise! There is less bitterness to this than the regular IRS. I also don't detect any Belgian yeast flavors. But still a win in my book.

Mouthfeel: Thick, smooth, and creamy, low carbonation gives this a mouthfeel that is like drinking dessert.

Overall: This isn't for everybody, but I'm in love with it. It reminds me of when a friend and I put a shot of jaegarmeister into Guinness, but on a much more delicious scale. This was worth the wait with the massive delays.

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Photo of VncentLIFE
4.77/5  rDev +35.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally got the trade in from wscaffe! Thanks!

Pours a molevelant black with a cream colored head.

Taste is different. Chewy malt roasted nicely. Very full body. The anise really just sneaks up on you. I didnt find it at all in the first few sips, but after that it came right up took over. There are alot of flavors mingling around in this brew. The anise is there, along with a creamy feel.

The creamy feel is what really sticks around. I was expecting more anise from this one, but I am impressed with the levels of this one. What anise I get seems like a sweeter anise like in Sambuca, not an extract. Very impressive, and i would like to see this one stick around.

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Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.7/5  rDev +33.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been looking forward to this seasons IRS. Finally a few bottles popped up in my area, but they were of the Belgo style. I'm excited to see how this one tastes.

A- Thick jet black, tan tight frothy creamy head with clingy lacing. Pours thick as I would expect.

S- The smell of the anise is there, which is great. I hate when beer companies say something is in the beer and you don't taste it. The bottle and name clearly state it will be there and in the smell it is but it isn't overpowering. The chocolate and malts are shining though as well.

T- The flavor of what I would expect with this stout is there. Big bold dark roasty malt favors. Big chocolate taste, with a nice bitterness in the end. The alcohol is there, but very subtle. Man this beer is tasty. Oh and the anise flavor it is there, but it compliments the rest of the flavors nicely and isn't overpowering in the slightest. This is excellent. I will have to grab a few more, and perhaps cellar one.

M- Thick, hearty and chewy. Great balance of carbination and this is tasty.

O- Excellent! I'm glad I snagged this. I also like black licorice.

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Photo of challenja
4.62/5  rDev +31.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Having this beer on tap at Church Key in DC. A bit frothy with a nice 70 percent dark chocolate cocoa nib. You can smell a wiff of slight costa rican coffee with a turkish mint backbone. It pours well and settles like most imperial stouts. I really like the mellowness of this beer. The anise is noticed and appreciated. This is remarkably smooth with little alcohol bite. A great everyday stout that can really bring more people into the fold of what a great stout can taste like. Highly recommended for its drinkability and smooth mouthful feeling. Bravo Stone. Bravo

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Photo of WestValleyIPA
4.6/5  rDev +31.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Zaya rum tasting glass. Black like coke mixed with tar. A finger of dark tan head. Very sticky lacing, head doesn't last long. Smells straight up like a black licorice stick. Overwhelming. Same taste up front. Some coffee bitterness on the finish. Booze is hidden well. Tacky, sticky drying finish. Coffee. Tannins. Amazing if you like licorice. If not, stay away.

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Photo of jimboween
4.58/5  rDev +30.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

hello: lets face it, imperials complement snowstorms and turtlenecks more than tiki-bars and bikinis. it is only with the great merit of stone's RIS and my love for anise that i drink this during the hot part of florida's year.

appearance: it is a perfectly dark, moonless night in a glass. i can hear wolves. this is ed zachary what a stout should look like.

smell: even my nose can smell the anise. start brewing coffee in the other room, rip open a bag of black twizzlers then step back three feet from it, and you'll likely have a similar experience to smelling this beer.

taste: the experience comes in two parts. act 1 is all imperial stout: roasty, burned chocolatey coffeeness. act 2 is black liquorice. not like eating a black jellybean, per se, but more of a morphing trick. like when they take, say, a picture of a zebra's face and morph a picture of your face into the zebra. now do this same thing with tastes, starting with coffechocolate and ending with black liquorice.

mouthfeel: its a heavy bastard. but at 10.something%, i expected more of an alcohol burn or something. not really. it is very smooth and wonderful, and sneakily alcoholic.

overall: yeah, i gave it a high rating. but i am emotionally attached to the flavor of black liquorice. being greek, i am quite comfortable with my alcohol tasting like jellybeans *cough* ouzo *cough*. you like stoutes and liquorice? then have at it, its awesome!

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Photo of Dawgmeat
4.57/5  rDev +30.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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!!


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Photo of Lemke10
4.55/5  rDev +29.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought a single 1PT.6FL.OZ. bottle from Binny's in Plainfield, IL for $6.99 in Summer 2011.

This is Stone's Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout ale brewed with anise, oak chips, and belgian yeast. Pours a very dark brown/black with a decent light brown head. Raosted malts and sweet carmel malts are the most noticeable. You can also pick up some fruit sweetness from the Anise. Wow does this beer have flavor! There are so many heavy robust flavors including roasted malts, anise, cocoa, yeast, and you can defiently pick up the oak as well. A great sipping beer and well worth the $7. I think this is the first beer I've ever had that's been worthy of a "5" in taste. A must try!

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Photo of gshak
4.54/5  rDev +29.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, this beer is drinking fantastic right now, and I dare say, I prefer this to the original. Here's why:
A- nothing much to write home about. Pours viscous and stays flat in the glass with no head whatsoever.
S - Strong notes of anise, oak, molasses and milk chocolate.
T - This is where the beer really shines. A cherry-like tartness opens up the palate. Molasses follows through, accompanied by milk chocolate, and coffee notes. Bittersweet toffee notes take up the baton and last quite a while, transcending into an all anise and woody finish. I'm really digging this!
M - Definitely full, and the (minimal) carbonation really helps his beer deliver a fulller flavor.

An extremely well crafted beer, and one that will age with the best! Glad I have a few more of these!

Update - 9/12/2012. The tartness has kicked up several notches in the last 7 months it spent in the cellar, aka wine cooler at 60 degrees. The taste now reminds me of chocolate covered sour cherries with some anise and wood in the back. It is easier to knock down a few ounc es of this in a sitting, but 22 oz is a challenge. At this rate this might turn into a world-class sour in about 2 years time, and I am not sure I like my stouts that way. On current tasting., I'd kick this down to a 3.75 at best.

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Photo of hosehead83
4.53/5  rDev +29.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a sharp looking 'bomber" bottle into an English dimpled "pot" pint glass.
Deep, dark inky blackness, with a thick head of tan foam.
Aroma-Full on big whiff of anise and dark malts, with a subtle note of Belgian yeast cowering in the background.
Taste-big, bold flavor bomb of anise,dark roasted malt,fermented dark fruits, dark chocolate, and roasted coffee. Doesn't have the burnt bitterness of Stone's regular Russian Imperial. Smoothed and tempered by the big dose of anise and the more subtle Belgian yeast and spices. Would make a great match for a well-seasoned, grilled porterhouse, or even a piled-high all meat pizza. A must try if you can get your hands on one.

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Photo of FARGO619
4.53/5  rDev +29.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had it at the release straight from the tap. I have a bottle of it, and will oepn it up soon. Very strong licorice smell from the start.
A: Dark , pitch black with a tint of red light that shined through from the light. Mocha head that lingered for a bit.
S: Strrong licorice and coffee aroma, dark chocolate hits the nose right away.
T: Coffee, licorice, bitterness from the beginning. Seems to be matured a bit for the taste to come through. I feel this is going to be a better beer later on down the line.
D: It went down smooth. The smell was different from the drinkability. I didn't think I was going to like it as much as I did.
O: Great beer!

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Photo of AbsolutFrank
4.53/5  rDev +29.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a Delirium Tremens snifter/tulip.

Appears black as used motor oil, with a half fingernail of milk chocolate covered head that quickly dissipates after a few tastes.

It smells first of charred oak, quickly followed by liquorice and espresso, faint bittersweet chocolate and faint dark red wine in the background.

Such a unique delicious complex taste. First note hitting is strong molasses and Shiraz wine, then burnt oak, then even notes of dry dark chocolate, black liquorice and espresso. The lingering finish/aftertaste is of dry dark chocolate and shiraz wine.

Mouth feel is where the Belgian yeast is present. It coats the tongue like a Belgian tripple or quad, with the same alcohol burn without strong alcohol flavor. Yet, very smooth coating and warming as you'd expect from a Baltic style stout or porter. I think you feel the sting of hops rather than taste it in the dry finish.

Overall this is one of my favorite beers on planet Earth. There is really nothing like quite like it. The only thing I've had approaching this complexity is Moa's Imperial Stout, but I find this to be much, much better. Perhaps if you can envision and amalgam of Stone regular RIS, North Coast's Old Rasputin, and a strong Liquorice and Shiraz wine presence with some Belgian mouth feel in addition to what you expect from a Baltic beer mouth feel, you have an idea. I'll probably cry if they never make this again. After my first taste I bought a total of five bottles, I write this while drinking my second to last.

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Photo of kjlued
4.5/5  rDev +28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorites from one of my favorite breweries.
Never have had anything from Stone that I would consider bad and I loved their Regular Russian Imperial Stout so my excitement was high when I first found out they chose this for their odd year release.

Then when I found it it was with Anise, my excitement dropped as I am not a big fan of anise. That being said, knowing that I can trust Stone to put out something good every time, I tried it and was very happy.

Unfortunately my local shop only got 1 case (12 bottles) so when I went back I bout the rest at a total of 6 bottles.

Well, this weekend in travels, I was surprised to see the local shop had 11 bottles still and bout everyone.

To bad it will not be repeated. If you have a chance to pick up a bottle or two, it is a must. Very unique beer and a must try.

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Photo of bogus564
4.5/5  rDev +28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz, poured into a pint glass...

I'm looking forward to trying and reviewing this beer, having had the regular Imperial Russian Stout by Stone Brewing Company. I wonder what the anise will add to it. Here we go...

A: Good looking stout, just like its sister; beautiful dark chocolate in color, with a 3cm caramel colored head that lasts for just around two minutes.

S: Smells really, really good - coffee, dark chocolate, orange, a little spice. I can't wait to drink it. I'm almost afraid that it might not live up to the hype.

T: My fears were unfounded - this is a great tasing stout. All flavors are confirmed, and balanced well for a Russian Imperial Stout. The anise flavor is a welcome touch, not overdone, just right.

M: Better than great, almost spectacular. Medium in body, well carbonated, rolls over the palate beautifully, with a spicy, ever so slightly piney finish.

O: These guys at Stone sure know what they're doing when it comes to making beer, especially RIS. It went perfectly with my leftover fried chicken. Great Beer.

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Photo of CampusCrew
4.5/5  rDev +28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

appearance: deep dark brown nearly black, nice dark brown head retention

smell: coffee, loaded chocolate, and some herbal sweet spice

taste: tons of dark raw chocolate, mixed with an abundant licorice flavor. It's big, but not over done. I loved it.

mouthfeel: full bodied

drinkability: I know other don't agree, but I love this beer.

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Photo of rye726
4.5/5  rDev +28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was at the liquor store and saw this on the shelf. So I decided to buy it. I drank it in a pint glass at room temp. It was a good purchase.

This beer taste great. It has all the flavors of the original but with an added complexity and thickness from the oak chips and anise. The Belgian yeast strain adds yet another layer of depth. But I prefer the house yeast in this beer. Nice full body. Good stuff.

Great looking beer.

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Photo of PhiloPsych
4.47/5  rDev +27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I reviewed this years batch of standard Stone IRS and this one looks just the same--maybe the head was slightly darker, for sure the head dissipated more quickly. The smell is sweet Sambuca. Somehow the alcohol heat that is so powerful in the aroma of the standard version is hidden or absent in this variant. The taste is definitely different from the standard brew, too. The Belgian yeast seems to have brought out more chocolate and coffee from the malt--this one is the sweeter of the two by a clear margin. The anise is clear and distinct without being overwhelming. I love Sambuca and I love this beer, too. I'm giving myself a genius award for pairing it with Indian food. I win!

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Photo of rrski198
4.46/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Motor Oil. Dark brown little head. Perfect imperial stout.

S: Dark chocolate, caramel malt, alcohol, smokey.

T: Sweet anise, alcohol, smokey, earthy, almost dry. Dark chocolate and a healthy dose of hop bitterness round out this brew.

M: Fullc arbonation and the gums tingling. Bitterness lingers in the back of the mouth.

O: Relly dig this beer, its an intersting version of an imperial.

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Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
4.46/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 2011 bottle into a snifter. Pours pitch black with a very large mocha head. The lace is pretty intricate as well.
I'll smell again when it warms. On a cold pour I get earthy hops, anise and chocolate. As it warms the anise becomes more prevalent with a hint of alcohol.
Bittersweet chocolate are right out front on the taste. A hint of coffee sits on the tongue. The anise gives it an almost smoky taste (or maybe it's just something smoky). Goes down perfect.
If you like licorice, grab a few. Certainly a dessert stout, it is delicious and I'll grab a few more for sure.

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Photo of dogfishandi
4.45/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 "odd year" release

22oz bottles split with a few friends poured into a snifter.

pours out opaque motor oil black with a big creamy mocha colored head, good retention with some great lace at first.

wow, big aroma. lots of anise, raisons, dark fruits, and a smokey beef jerky mostly. some charred wood.

again, lots of anise, think black licorice, a smokey beef jerky, raisony dark fruits, at the forefront. complex. hints of chocolate, charred wood. all the flavors mingle for a great taste.

big, chewy body, mouthfeel is a little dry cocoa flavor, some bitterness sticks around.

overall, i loved this beer. beef jerky and anise, whats not too love. doesnt taste anything like a regular stone irs, much dryer mouthfeel as well.

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Photo of BelgiumBill
4.45/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the 2011 'odd year' release. I paid $6.99 for a 22 oz. bottle at Total Wine.

I dropped it into a Guinness 250th Anniversary pint glass starting it out at 46 degrees. It went it black but I was able to find the faintest hint of mahogany brown at the extreme edge when held to the light.

It was crowned by a thick bottle brown rocky head which was sticky and left lots of lacing initially.

Smell- I'm anticipating being in for something huge here as I smell the licorice roastiness as I carry the glass to the table. Yeah, no disappointment there - massive nose. Roasted malts, some chocolate cake, burnt wood - all of which dominated by licorice. The nose was full of anise but the second layer was full of complexity with the other aromas.

Flavor- Naturally the anise was front and center. There was a good dose of oak and toasty malts. The chocolate announced itself more prominently toward the end and in the lingering finish.

Mouthfeel- What you would expect from a Russian Imperial Stout - big, thick along with some bite from anise, wood tannin, and hops.

I think I like it more than the other reviewers but I am partial to the style. It was a bigger and more powerful version of the regular Stone RIS.

A good litmus test would be, "Do you like black jelly beans?"
If no, avoid. If yes, proceed and enjoy.

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Photo of Drinkerofales
4.45/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pure black with a dark mocha head which is gone quickly.

Smells of black licorice(duh) and mint, coffee and a slight hop presence. Bready malt and burnt toast flavor come in as the beer warms. Booze have a play in the mix too.

Tastes of coffee, roasty toasty malts, and opposite the nose, a hint of anise. Tastes of some alcohol burn, but nicely done.

Feels full bodied, great thickness, just what I want from a stout. Low carbonation rounds out this great textured beer.

I love the flavor and complexity, I am new to the RIS category, but the flavors in this beer make me desire more stouts, and jealous of those who have the CBS and KBS available to them.


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Photo of Metalmonk
4.43/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep deep black color with a creamy, toasty tan-colored head that, while not huge, sticks around a remarkably long while. Dots of lace are left on the glass.

Definite anise spiciness right up front in the aroma, with a woody character underneath that, and something so toasty it borders on burnt-smelling without actually being as off-putting as that usually is in beer. Since anise is so similar to black licorice, I can also say it's got a ton of that too, or instead.

You really have to love anise and/or black licorice to get into this. If you're not, why are you buying/reviewing it? Seriously, it's a love or hate flavor. In the skilled hands of Stone, they take their wonderful Imperial Russian Stout and simply make it a more eccentric, exotic experience. Bold, very natural anise/black licorice spiciness right up front, but kept in check by other characteristics such as oak, quality medium-roast coffee, sea salt, and gooey dark chocolate brownies. Alcohol heat just barely checks in, helping to lift all of this up another sensual level.

The extremely impressive mouthfeel totally does it for me, and does very well by the beer itself, delivering these balanced, exotic flavors through a texture that is round, creamy, gooey, thick but not heavy, and wonderfully silky.

I love anise, both as an ingredient, and also as a sensory impression when it's not even an actual ingredient. The only problem with using it, especially in such a strong beer, is it's one of those flavorings that props up the alcohol and makes a beer smell/taste even stronger than it is. Does for me anyway. But Stone, as they will, have managed to use it wisely, making it a spotlight but not drowning the beer in it. Very well done, totally delightful, and one to drink slowly with hardly any chill on it...

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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
3.51 out of 5 based on 939 ratings.
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