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.

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Reviews: 447 | Ratings: 941
Photo of AgentMunky
3.77/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

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Photo of tectactoe
2.95/5  rDev -16%
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.

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Photo of MeowTom
4.03/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- I love the black black black body and the head is a nice size that is a dark brown. The head stays put will assist you in a mustache.

S- It's a combination of coffee and raisins. I actually don't detect too much of the anise...I know this at least a year old and I'm not sure how long they aged it, but it has taken a very interesting twist. I wonder if it is the esters or if raisins were added.

T- Wonderful take on a style that seems to go ever which way with interpretations. I'm getting fruits and raisins all over the place. I can't seem to get away from them. The alcohol is still there, but it's fine.

M- Thick and chewy. The carbonation is actually pretty well done for how thick it is.

O- A really intense beer that is doing a lot of wonderful things. I'm seeing a lot of negative reviews on this beer, but I think that with a little time this beer is only going to get better and I will be buying another soon to age another year.

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Photo of jera1350
3.68/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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Photo of TheRealBigC
3.23/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I really don't like anise. So I am being slightly biased with this one, granted. Still, having already produced an IRS so magnificent, this one doesn't live up to expectation. The anise is just overpowering and it gets in the way of other flavors. A hint of it would have worked nicely, but there's way more than a hint. It's a beer for the Jager fan, I suppose. I bet this really hits the spot for a small niche of people, but for me I'll stick to the regular IRS or the bourbon one if I see it.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.88/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anise. Mmkayy. The first sip of this did not work for me, and I was prepared to not appreciate this beer. That did not last long though as I felt my mouth being coated by the thick body of the beer and the ingredients continued to hit mouth with the flavor profile. It gelled with my tastebuds and worked pretty quickly. The standard Stone RIS is a beer that, in my opinion, shouldn't be messed with, so I take a dangerous one. It works though, in its own way. But it'll be a one time shot for me as the anise is something I don't really want to return to. Excellent mass produced experiment with anise though. That should be commended.

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Photo of WillCarrera
2.21/5  rDev -37%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

22 oz bottle, 2011 Odd-Year version, poured into a tulip glass. Thanks to ariotofwords for the bottle!

A- Pours pitch black with a finger of brown head that recedes to a collar, leaves spotty lacing.

S- Powerful aroma of black licorice, vanilla and roasted malt, the anise aroma tends to drown out everything else. The aroma is very concerning, I'm not expecting much from the flavor.

T- Anise, anise, anise. It tastes like Jager. There are some flavors of roasted grain, chocolate and coffee, but the anise flavor is cloying and completely overpowering, like having a mouthfull of anise seeds and sugar. This is awful.

M- Medium-bodied, considerably thinner than the rich, decadent feel of the normal Stone RIS, finish has a lingering, sticky flavor of anise and sugar.

O- I'm a big fan of Stone's philosophy of aggressive brews but I've always had trouble dealing with aggressively sweet beers, a category which this transcends, as it's also overly herbal. I made it through about two ounces of this before I gave up. The anise flavor is cloying, unbalanced, and pretty disgusting. Undrinkable. The word "trainwreck" comes to mind, as well as "hatred," "despicable," and "abomination."

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Photo of mactrail
3.92/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Truly one of the most memorable beers of the last couple of years. Very dark but more dark golden brown than black. A nice spritziness with a decent beige head. Thick bodied, though not as syrupy as a Barleywine.

Sweet with a candy and fruity flavor. The anise taste is like a liqueur. I don't even like licorice but I find this very drinkable in a totally off-beat way. Loads of dark malt, a touch of burnt sugar, caramel. But also sharp and tart in a fruity way.

I am not a big fan of Stone brews, but this one is audacious enough-- but well made-- to be likeable.

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Photo of shigg85
4.42/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap in a wide-mouth snifter at Popeye in Ryogoku, Tokyo. Pitch black with a thin murky head. Immediate smell of licorice anise is suprising in its accuracy. Roasted hops flavor present as well accompanied by raspberry perhaps. Very drinkable as the anise flavor is not as strong as the smell. Very little head even when I spin it. Overall, an amazingly interesting, delicious beer.

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Photo of brystmar
1.37/5  rDev -61%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Brendan comes through with the tick!

Decent looking pour, I guess. But holy balls, I can smell this garbage from my chair. Mint, currants, dirty socks, and armpit hairs make up the aroma. More mint and mildew round it out.

Imagine having a mint porter that was poured through a pair of heavily used sweatpants. That's Belgo Anise. Am I really gonna give this a worse rating than the Peat Whiskey Black Hole? Maybe; goddamn this is awful.

So bad, not sure my drain will even accept it.

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Photo of trentet
4.08/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had a tough time with this beer at first, and I'll be up front. My buddy Mano and I who split this beer with me do not like black liquorice. The first sample glass was hard to finish. I sat staring at the bottle for a few minutes with that taste on my tongue but after a bit it grew on me. I poured another sampler full and tried another taste. It went down a lot easier and I could taste a whole lot of complexity beyond the overwhelming black liquorice flavor. Mouthfeel was excellent for the class. We began to think of things we could marinate in this beer and agreed lamb would be perfect with a mess of garlic. It's a beer that needs a little time to appreciate and it hurts you a bit while your drinking it but I liked it overall once I got used to what it had to say.

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Photo of Danny1217
3.27/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours pure black. Looks like oil with a thick brown head. Keeps the nice appearance of regular Stone IRS. The smell is a big hit of anise. A bit overpowering. Other scents are very hard detect beneath the anise. The taste is similar. Anise dominates. It's hard to taste all the complexities found in Stone imperial stout with the anise dominating this much. It's also hard to taste any Belgian yeast, which is disappointing. The mouthfeel is very good though. Very viscous and rich. Goes down smooth. While it is disappointing, it still isn't a bad flavor at all. Just very strange. Not something I'm particularly interested in trying again, but very interesting to try at least once.

Anise lovers should like this one, but unfortunately, anise isn't my personal favorite taste.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
3.45/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22-ounce bomber into a Barrington Brewery pint glass.

A: Black in color with a frothy, two-finger head of tan foam which left some nice ringlets of lacing around the glass.

S: Oak barrel aroma blends with the staunch scent of licorice, fruity esters and herbal, earthy hops melded with smokey, sweet-roasted malts.

T: Slick and sweet, dark roasted malt flavor at first with a whole lotta anise-laced licorice candy nib taste. The rich malts are difficult to appreciate beneath the stark anisette flavoring. The same goes for the Belgian yeast strain employed for this brew. Like adding Sambuca to spicier, fruitier Stone IRS.

M: Rich, full-bodied flavor with he slick addition of anise and herbal, drying hops.

O: I like licorice to some degree, but the anise flavoring just didn't jive all that well with me. It was like an Italian coffee, possibly suited well with pastry dessert pairings. However, the strong, 10.5% ABV and robust licorice flavor wouldn't have me picking it up again.

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Photo of Edruil
3.73/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Growler filled on 6/23/2012 with 2011 Belgo-Anise IRS. Poured same night into Stone IRS snifter

Appearance - Black as night, viscous and thick to the eye. Head is a beautiful creamy brown but, unfortunately, dissipates all too quickly

Smell - Wow. Big, big anise. Anise is nice, but the roasted malts barely make it through, and the anise drowns out pretty much any other notes I might be looking for - such as the Belgian yeast. The anise is much too strong on the nose

Taste - The anise isn't as big as it is on the nose, but still big. If you don't like anise, this is not a beer for you. Still, the flavors are surprisingly balanced after the strength of anise on the nose. Chocolate, coffee, caramel, oak, and a dash of mint are there, the malt sweetness is there, hops are mostly absent. The fruity Belgian yeast esters do come through, though not strongly, and add a pleasant background to the typical IRS flavors. Acidic, and the bitterness and dryness linger on the palate

Mouthfeel - Full bodied, oily, satisfying. Good carbonation. Rich.

Overall - Certainly an interesting take on the style. Stone is, after all, well-known for doing their own (bold) thing, but I think this is one instance where they deviated a bit too much from the norm. Don't get me wrong, this is still in my opinion a good beer, and enjoyable. However, I wouldn't take this over their regular IRS, and I can see how anyone that isn't an anise fan wouldn't like it at all. The anise gets a bit too much attention, and the Belgian yeast touted in the Belgo-Anise moniker doesn't come through as strongly as I'd like them to. It's worth a try (if you like anise, that is), but with the regular Stone IRS as great as it is, I can't see myself choosing this over it.

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Photo of arizcards
3.28/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bomber from BevMo July 2011 for $5.99.

Beer poured black as night with a decent tan head that went flat pretty quickly.

Nose is overpowered by licorice, belgian yeast esters are drowned out.

Taste is pretty much the same as nose, licorice is just dominating. The roasted malts which is the backbone takes a back seat. The Anise seems to have mellowed over the last year.

Mouthfeel is the most appealing trait, thick and full bodied with an extra boost of smoothness from the yeast.

Overall i appreciate Stone's innovation efforts but this is one that should not been let out of the lab. I had this brew last August and it was undrinkable.

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Photo of BostonHops
2.63/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle served in a snifter.
2011 vintage.

pours your standard R/IS jet black tone while yielding about a 1" mocha-colored head. decent retention and lacing. nice looking beer, but so are countless others in its style. nose packs a big wallop of black licorice. secondary notes of roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee, but boy does that anise dominate. not my cup of tea, but it's not terrible.

taste follows the aroma. unfortunately. just an anise bomb. the other characters are there in the background but relegated to second fiddle. disappointing, as i had higher hopes for this one. decent, medium-full bodied mouthfeel with average carbonation.

while i'm a big fan of stone in general and their approach to putting spins on recipes in particular, this was just not one that worked for me. not a drainpour, just not one i'm appreciating; although i could see where some may dig it. personally i'll be sticking to the regular IRS.

(originally reviewed: 06-23-2011)

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Photo of dfillius
4.2/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A; moderate pour yields 1 finger of dark cocoa-colored slightly loose and fizzy head with fair retention. This recedes to a ring. Nearly opaque dark brown liquid. Nice, though I'd like tighter, longer lasting head.
S: Almost rootbeer like. Herbal, woody notes with bulb fennel. Balanced and big in the back.
T: Chocolate, root beer, slight ginger, slight mint, fennel. All fairly balanced, though I can't say it is better than regular IRS. Interesting. The balance increases as the temperature warms too. Enjoyable. Terribly balanced upon warming!
M: Warmth grows, but remains comfortable. Silky and smooth. Not hot at all! Excellent!
O: Nice, but strong. I'm glad to have the 22oz bottle to myself. Nice to have 2 of these. Might buy again.

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Photo of blaje
3.78/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 bottle.
Pours oil black, forming a nice, rich, foamy and thick moccha head lasting pretty long and leaving a nice lacing.

N: Star anise/licorice is very present and dominating largely. Roasted grains, moccha, oak, molasse, alcohol and red fruits

M: Medium to full body and surprisingly not to heavy in mouth as expected. Well carbonated wich shurly contributes to this. Alcohol warmth is not overwhelming too despite a the high ABV. Licorice as a funny cooling effect on tongue! a bit acid and dry

T: As nose revealed, anise/licorice is VERY present but not overwhelming high. Raosted grains, oak, moccha, coffee tastes are mainly tasted. Bitter chocolate and red fruits are perceptible wich contributes to the acid fealing I think

Overall, this is a good beer but I prefer their regular RIS. This is still a must taste for all beer fans.

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Photo of portia99
3.11/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz bottle (2011 release) poured into a Harpoon 100 Barrel stemmed glass.

A - This is certainly going to be a multi-staged pour. Pours initially with four full fingers of thick creamy chocolate milkshake head that holds on seemingly forever. As it slowly falls, nice webs of lacing are left on the glass. Body is near black and pretty much opaque. Good looking stout.

S - Certainly no mistaking the anise here...quite intense and up front. The licorice-y black twizzler aroma is muddied up a bit the woodiness of the oak, picking up a bit of molasses, touches of roasty coffee that are rather subdued but still there. Not really grabbing any of the estery/fruity aromas I'd associate with use of Belgian yeast however. Overall, I'm saying too much anise...not enough of everything else.

T - Ok...Belgian yeast does come thru here, perhaps in a bit of a weird way though. The estery nature of the yeast doesn't really play off the other aspects of the beer all that well. The base beer with its intense roastiness, ground coffee bean flavor comes thru with much greater intensity and pleasure than in the aroma. Anise is still there from beginning to end and gives a bit of an overly intense licorice flavor and coolness. The esters play on top of both of these with a dirty/muddy oaken woodiness, an unidentifiable fruitiness, mixed with some chocolate and dark fruits, and a mild hint of tartness on the finish. As with the aroma, the flavor is a bit of a miss for me. I like the anise idea, but it is a bit over the top...although I think the addition of just the anise might work better without the use of Belgian yeast...heavier anise on the deeply roasty std edition of Stone's IRS could work fairly well.

M - Body is fairly full. Carbonation is surprisingly on the lower side, creamy and smooth despite the eruption of foam on the initial pour. Alcohol is kept in check with no real warmth detectable. Licorice coolness lingers as the does the somewhat offputting Belgian yeast esters.

O - Overall I much prefer the original version of Stone's IRS...the addition of the anise holds some promise, but the Belgian yeast didn't really work for me. Probably one of my least favorite Stone offerings.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.68/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Belgo Anise IRS '11. Poured this one into my Victory Golden Monkey tulip. Waited nearly a year, and still a little scared of what lies under the cap!

A: Pours pitch black. No light getting through here. Maybe some blood reddish hues around the edges at the top. About a half finger of tannish head. Fades down quickly. There are some alcohol feet.

S: I guess that Anise has died a little bit. I get dark bitter chocolate, black licorice, and some dark fruit actually. Not a lot of roast but it is quite cold. Some of that Belgian yeast comes through too.

T: I know this one was panned last year, but I find this to be rather pleasant with a year of age on it. It's different that the regular IRS that is for sure. You get some dark chocolate bitterness up front, and some of that Belgian yeast spice. The Anise is there in the form of black licorice but it's no where near as in your face as I'd heard others mention. You get it on the close and it hangs with you for a while.

M: Full bodied but carbonation help to clear palate. Pretty drinkable.

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Photo of jjanega08
3.17/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2011 Vintage
Really love the regualar IRS I hope this one is just as good.

A= Pours a deep black color with a thick half finger of head that holds some decent retention and spotty lacing on the side of the glass.

S= The smell is interesting to say the least. Not anything like the regualr IRS. It has a veggie like anise smell. I would say licorice but it's much more veggie like. Other than that it's quite mute and weird. Not too much going on besides these odd vegitative aromas.

T= The flavor isn't as bad but still a grand step down from the regualar offering. There is a bit of the veggie taste but more of a genuine licorice taste from the anise. The belgian yeast offers a spicyness to it that sort of covers most of the "stout" flavors leaving little roast or darker malt flavor. The oak doesn't come through much leaving me with a very odd feeling about this beer.

M= The mouth is a little light for my taste. Damn belgian yeast.

O= An odd beer for sure. Not my style and I'm glad I only bought one of these when they came out. I much much much prefer the regular version of this which is outstanding while this is subpar in my opinion.

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Photo of draheim
3.58/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into a snifter. Pours a dark dark brown w/ a 1-finger tan head that settles to a ring + film.

Aroma is heavy on the anise and black licorice, some dark roasted malt, and an earthy nuttiness when swirled.

Taste again is dominated by black licorice and star anise. Also kind of a metallic taste on the finish. Not really picking up any of the oak, anise is so prevalent. But maybe the oak helps w/ the mouthfeel a bit.

Speaking of which, mouthfeel is fine. Nothing really stands out, maybe a little dry courtesy of the oak. I probably expected a smoother, creamier experience given the Belgian yeast strain.

Overall... eh. This was OK. Not as bad as some of the detractors would have you believe, but I didn't really like it all that much either. Hey, eventually somebody was going to make a Belgo anise Russian imperial stout on oak, so why not Stone.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4.03/5  rDev +14.8%
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.

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Photo of evilkalla
2.77/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Serving: Bomber into an ale glass.

A: Very dark brown/black, practically opaque, with a very thick quarter inch head on it. Very nice.

S: Smells like a bag of licorice. Absolutely bizarre for a beer. Not sure this is working for me.

T: There is a stout in here somewhere but it is overpowered by the anise flavor. Not good.

M: Good for an imperial stout.

O: This doesn't work at all. I picked this up as most Stone experiments are pretty good; not in this case though.

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Photo of xnicknj
2.48/5  rDev -29.3%
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.

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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
3.51 out of 5 based on 941 ratings.
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