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: 939
Photo of Flounder57
3.68/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle poured into a Stella glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a nice mocha head that has reduced to a thin layer and left some clumpy lacing on the side of the glass. Pitch black with no signs of carbonation and clarity.

Smell: Anise/licorice aroma, chocolate, roasted coffee, and sweet malts.

Taste: A weird blend of all the flavors. Anise flavor is a bit overbearing and burns. Good at first, but goes downhill fast. Burns as it goes down. The anise kills a lot of the good features of the beer.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, medium carbonation, smooth, lingering tastes in your mouth that I am not too crazy about, and booze sticks around for a while and is not well hidden like most RIS.

Overall: This is probably a good twist on their normal RIS, which I haven't had yet, but this beer was alright and enjoyable to drink. The anise was just a little too much for me though.

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Photo of cookedw
4.33/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: To me, this is as sexy as a stout gets in look - pitch black pour with a good 3/4" dark tan head. There was a good amount of lacing, and the head did not subside quickly. Appearance isn't that important to me, but this beer lets you know to buckle up.

S: The anise awakens your nose immediately, front and center. Behind that is a deep dark fruit note, predominantly currants, maybe a little bit of raisin...something along those lines. There is also a coffee bitterness that plays well with the anise. I could not help but be reminded of a birch beer while drinking this.

T: The bitterness is pretty punch-you-in-the-mouth strong on this, which was kind of surprising and very assertive, even though that's kind of a theme with Stone's stouts. Coffee notes were more like a burnt roast with some slight thinness reminiscent of chicory. As this subsides, it yields to the dark fruits again. As I got used to the bitterness, I also noticed some vanilla up front. The oak certainly feeds into the bitterness, but this plays well with the high carbonation to detract from the fact that you're drinking a 10+% ABV beer. But the anise in the taste is a little clashing, here combining with the oak to give a very woody flavor not unlike peanut shells. On the back of the tongue in the finish, however, the anise shines. I found myself tasting licorice and fig long after.

M: I really enjoyed the carbonation on this. The beer itself was thick and coating, but the bitterness combined with the high carbonation kept it bubbly, enough to make the beer dance on the palate.

D: You won't notice you're drinking a 10.5% ABV beer at all. The mouthfeel coats, but the complexity of the aroma and long-lingering taste will keep you coming back for more. This one really surprised me just how delightful it was to drink.

O: A delicious, earthy beer. I'd say that it's so earthy, it's almost like topsoil...very deep, rich, moist flavors that coat and compel the tongue. I could not get over how enjoyable the beer was to drink - I'm glad I've got another bottle!

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
3.82/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours motor-oil-black with a large tan head that sinks into decent lacings.

S: Lots of liqourice up front - kind of sweet (probably from the Anise - duh). Hard roasted malts but also some coffee, and dark chocolate. Faint notes of vanilla.

T: More balanced than the smell; the liqourice is held back just a tad and the roasted malt and the vanilla comes out. Coffee and chocolate in the back to help balance the Anise. Some very faint notes of dark dried fruits.

M: Aftertaste lingers with a modest bitterness and shy sweetness. Body is full while carbonation is held back.

O: Quite nice with the Anise - I can't help but wonder - how would this beer had tasted without the Anise...

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

Review adapted from notes taken 7/17/11

Appearance: Jet black with a tan head - some tan around the edges if held to the light - some lacing

Smell: Black licorice - like, a punch to the face with a fist made of licorice - this aroma overpowers everything - as it warms, burnt malts, chocolate, coffee, and some sweet aromas emerge

Taste: The flavor is about 90% black licorice - kind of tastes like a nasty black jellybean - so much licorice - beyond this, the beer is actually good - oak, chocolate, coffee, burnt malts, roasted malts, a touch of Belgian yeast - as this warms, some of the black licorice drops and the Belgian component becomes more obvious - regardless, it's not bad

Mouthfeel: Heavy, smooth, nicely carbonated, kind of a prickly spiciness

Overall: Very strange, but really not a disaster

If you hate the use of anise, you are going to hate this beer. The black licorice component of this beer is absurd, but not awful. I imagine this will get better over time.

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Photo of thepeter
3.72/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Black with a finger off white head
S - lots of licorice and then some roasted malt and a hint of vanilla.
T - Nice at startwith licorice/Anise Flavor as well as malt but gets a bit rough and strong after a second or two. finishes a bit rough as well, stronger aftertaste than I would like.
M - Not quite as full bodied as I would like and over carbonated
O - Did not live up to expectation, nothing close to the original, I would not mind a bit of the anise in my RIS but though.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.31/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

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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 scottfrie
3.46/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
2.78/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I sampled this beer on tap when it first was released. I allowed my bottle to mellow since that sampling. The fact that a lot of these are still on store shelves speaks volumes about the quality of this product.

The scent was fairly nondescript, only giving subtle hints of maltiness. Only a slight head appeared, and the stout appeared thin. The initial taste was that of black licorice and something on par with Nyquil except a carbonated version. In the aftertaste, there is a hint of a tart tea. But a pleasant aftertaste does not replace the trauma of cold medicine flavored beer.

I have enjoyed many of the Stone beers over the years, but this is not their best effort. Next to the initial RIS, this seems a bizarre modification on an otherwise great beer.

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Photo of Brenden
4/5  rDev +14%
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.

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

A: 1/4" light brown head over black liquid.

S: Licorice, smoke, oak and yeast.

T: Smoke up front with a licorice and oak finish over top of a toasted malt and coffee backdrop.

M: Medium to thick carbonation and a medium level of carbonation.

O: There are too many flavours in this Russian Imperial Stout. The smoke and black licorice do not compliment as much as compete.

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Photo of dbossman
4.3/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black hue with a thin film of a head; nice lacing especially for the style; this looks thick, viscous, and awesome

S: Wow, that has licorice like over-the top black jelly beans, jagermeister, some subtle oak androasty malts but mostly sweet licorice awesomeness

T: So much salty licorice--like real Scandinavian licorice candy; some oaky roasted malts but man is this an anise bomb and I love it

F: Viscous body; thick and sticky and fantastic

O: Such an interesting, weird, awesome, LICORICE, stout--I love real, black, salty licorice and I love big stouts and I also love this beer

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

Poured into a snifter. I hate the word "Belgo" but that's a personal thing. Let's see if the beer is better than the name.

3.5 A: Black color. Almost three fingers of frothy/creamy light brown head. Retention is good and moderate amounts of nonuniform lacing are left.

2.5 S: The anise is sure there. There's tons of it. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing in itself. Rather, this barely smells like a stout. It smells more like a generic strong ale. Light roast with very little of the aromas that are common in stouts (chocolate, coffee, etc...). The Belgian yeast also doesn't work in this. Instead of giving me the standard spiciness, it simply comes off as muddled. The oak smells good though.

2.0 T: The Belgian component is much more apparent in the taste. Peppery spiciness with a fruity zing. Anise is abundant again as is the oak. The stout, however, is lacking again. Light roast and not much else. Like the nose, this seems more like a Belgian take on Arrogant Bastard than the RIS. In any case, it doesn't work.

2.0 M: Medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Seems light on the tongue, but not in a normal spritzy Belgian way. Also lacking creaminess. Not a fan of this either.

2.0 D: Really disappointing beer. I've had a number of American "Belgo" stouts this year and this is by far the worst.

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Photo of cjacobsen
3.61/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

(A) Pours opaque black with a qtr inch brown head on it.

(S) Licorice, licorice, dark malts, licorice, coffee, and licorice.

(T) Not nearly as big on the licorice/anise as the nose, but it's still very present. It's not as overwhelming as I expected. I'm not a huge fan of black licorice, but the taste in the anise blends well with the cocoa and coffee and the roasted qualities of the malts. Fairly well blended.

(M) Very smooth, just like the original stout. Ends less dry than the original, but well balanced.

(O) Ok, the smell was a bit off-putting, but expected. Worst beer ever made? No, not by a long shot. Tastes like pepperoni? Not even. It was different, heavy on the anise in the nose but not as heavy in the taste, and still a well made beer. I'm curious to see what, if anything, time will do to this beast.

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Photo of jkanavel
4.06/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap the Flying Saucer

A: Jet black with a moca head. Not too much lacing in the glass, delicate strands here and there.

S: Smells great, plenty of aromatic hops, dark maltiness, alcohol, and wintery spices

T: Rich. complex and exciting, but well tempered. Balance of sweetness and hoppiness is superb. I didn't get any strong anise flavor to be honest. It was very subtle, and mostly what I tasted was molasses and carob. Maybe a little caraway and chocolate tucked away in the back somewhere as well.

M: Silky smooth and full bodied.

O: Evidently this is not everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoyed it a great deal.

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Photo of HopHead84
2.14/5  rDev -39%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2


On tap at URGE.

A: Black, very black, with a thick frothy light brown head.

S: Dark chocolate meets black licorice and anise. It isn't terrible but they have taken the base beer and made it much worse.

T: Ash and wretched black licorice with even more wretched and powerful anise presence. A little chocolate, but it can't possibly redeem this flavor. Harsh alcoholic anise finish.

M: Full body with upper medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is astringent and dry.

Overall: A bastardization of a good beer. Avoid.

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

A: Impenetrable darkness. Black, no brown in sight. Pours a mocha-hued two-finger head that settles into a honeycombed cm topcoating. There's a lot of visible carbonation that clings to the glass for a couple minutes after the pour--a bit odd for an RIS. Good amount of sticky icky lacing with good retention.

S: Heavy dose of stout cocoa, but not much coffee. The anise is obvious and blends well with the milk chocolate canvas. Some nuttiness here and there, and a little caramel swirl rounds things off. There's a little odd funk coming out as it warms and breathes.

T: This one is the closest a beer has come to Jagermeister for me, but this isn't a horrible thing here, just an interesting flavor profile to ponder. It's certainly the anise that takes it there (and the viscosity); others have pointed out the lack of anise in the taste, which is the opposite of what I'm getting. The anise is front and center, almost too much, and doesn't blend as well as it does in the nose. Nevertheless, there are other flavors there--sweet, chocolate malts that are usually at home in a milk stout, molasses and caramel, and a very faint banana hint of a Belgian (yeast) in the aftertaste. The oak chips are undetectable.

M: Oily and thick. It's there, you know it, and it sticks around after closing time. Good attributes IMO. A little spicy, some light carbonation (less than the look hints at), and very little of the 10.5 abv comes through in the taste or the mouthfeel.

I like the experiment, but I think this is a better beer sans anise.

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

Poured from a bomber into NB globe glass. A "2011 Odd Year Release" per the bottle.

A: Pours jet black, thick, with a two finger dark brown bubbly head that sticks to the glass as it recedes.

S: Overhwelming smell of chocolate, dried fruit, some licorice and little bit of pepper.

T: Warming alcohol up front with coffee, malts, licorice, raisin, and some hop spice. Finishes smooth with a lingering dark chocolate flavor.

M: Thick, slick, and oily. Slightly bubbly at first but finishes very smooth with a strong residual coating.

O: Overall I dont' notice the belgian flavor as much as I thought I would but the anise adds a nice touch of herbal licorice. The yeast change is most noticeable in the aftertaste which isn't as sweet as other examples of the style. Very good overall, would buy again.

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Photo of Finatic
2.68/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz bomber poured into my miniature cigar city sifter.

A: Pours a jet black color with a light brown head, little to no lacing.

S: Strong licorice smell overwhelms the nose. Some coffee and chocolate notes.

T: Licorice taste overwhelms the palate. Some burnt malts and a slight hint of coffee.

M: Full of flavor, not real heavy. Quite easy to drink.

O: Not my cup of team, but worth trying for the Stout enthusiasts.

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

A - Looks amazing. Pitch black beer with 1.5 fingers of very dark tan thick foamy head sitting right on top. Head fades slightly but really not much for a while.

S - Anise/Licorice aroma is pretty dominant. If I didn't know it was supposed to have anise I would have said some sort of sour yeast. Belgian yeasts behind that along with deep roasted malts, hints of chocolate, and a bit of alcohol.

T - So much flavor. Chocolate gets to be the dominant flavor eventually, but it starts off with dark fruits, anise, and a general roastiness. After that initial shock to the palate, chocolate comes to the forefront with the same flavors just falling in line behind.

M - Heavy body, thick, creamy, not a coat-your-mouth type beer, but so full of flavor that's OK. Finish is sweet with flavors of oak, nuts, and coffee. A very distinct peanut taste in the finish. I haven't had any peanuts recently otherwise I would have thought this was just some residual flavors from other food I ate.

O - Very rich, full, well-balanced beer. I would have probably liked more belgian style to come through, but still amazing.

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Photo of metter98
3.9/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Mugs Alehouse, Brooklyn, NY

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with a half-finger high tan head that has good retention properties.
S: Anise really stands out in the nose, which also has aromas of dark roasted malts and chocolate.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, although the flavors of anise and licorice aren’t quite as strong and more balanced with those of roasted malts and chocolate (in line from what you would expect from a Russian Imperial Stout).
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The addition of anise to this beer makes for a very interesting taste and keeps your taste buds stimulated.

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Photo of Ryan011235
1.64/5  rDev -53.3%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Poured into an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 12/2/11

2011 vintage (duh)

Pours a dark brown that results in a dulled black in the glass. Three fingers of sandy brown foam doesn't last long at all; very fizzy. Thin retention with some clumpy lace. Ah, the lace doesn't hold at all.

This smells terrible. Soap, perfume, anise, fruity bubble gum, dark fruit, dirt, oak, chocolate, molasses and roasted coffee. As you might guess, it's the first several contributors that are the troublesome lot. My second pour smells more like oak. Wisps of booze. Yay.

Hobo dick juice mixed with deer piss? That's the combined suggestion from my friend and his fiance. Shrug. I'm picking out belligerent ramblings of anise, dirt, stale swamp wood, ash, and earthy hop kick. There are a lot of burnt notes, too - molasses, coffee and scorched chocolate. Tangy fruit and spicy yeast tones. Yup, this is a mess.

The feel is an overall medium, but it's thin for the style. Carbonation is too high; it tames over time but it's not exactly comfortable. Alcohol heat builds over time and is quite warm. Finishes with a dry, vapid dirtiness. Coating.

Overall? This is really bad. Drinkability? No thanks. The three of us couldn't finish the bottle. The silver lining is that this and the Belgo Old Guardian are finally out of my fridge, never to return.

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Photo of ikantspel
3.15/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

220z botttle served into pint glass

pours chestnut brown with a creamy frothy head

yeast nose with some slight lunch meat ( maybe im drunk but i smell lunchmeat damnit)

more sweet than anything. textbook chocolate coffee aftertaste. maybe some vanilla. but nowhere near as much anise as i thought.

mouthfeel is kinda thick but in a good way. definitely a sipping beer.

okay i did the gauntlet of stone 13th, stone twelfth bitter chocolate oatmeal stout, and this bad boy right here. id call that a night.

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Photo of anyother
3.82/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

For such a polarizing beer I expected the worst. I had this in a bottle and didn't notice the anise as much as most other reviewers. I had it on tap at Buckeye Beer Engine in Lakewood, OH several times since.

I can only say this beer tells you EXACTLY what it will be. It says that it is full of anise. I understand not enjoying a flavor, you couldn't get me to eat most seafood without penalty of death. This beer is FANTASTIC. As it warms up it still retains the smooth mouthfeel of a top tier RIS but the herby warmth from the anise just intensifies the whole experience.

Experiment gone wrong? Not at all. For the people that don't like it, fair enough, it wasn't for you. All the reviews complaining about the flavor that was BLATANTLY advertised should be dismissed. This beer is exactly what it says it is, an anise flavored RIS and a damn good one.

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Photo of bornridiculous
2.93/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Now, don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with this beer, as far as physical flaws. Its not skunked or funkafied, at 50 degrees F, and was stored correctly. The only real flaw in my opinion is the taste. Holy Anise batman, it tasted like they dumped in a bunch of good n plenty. It pours a deep black, with a chocolate colored head. The smell is lightly of licorice. When you taste it there is simply no avoiding the Anise seed. It somehow manages to overpower both the roasted malt, and the Belgian yeast strain. The carbonation is appropriate.

Final notes: The one saving grace on this beer is that it reminds me of Moxie, the soft drink. Moxie mixed with coffee.

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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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