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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Ratings: 941 |  Reviews: 447
Photo of BeardedRiker
3.61/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's too bad this beer isn't getting to high of reviews. It definitely sounds like a stout that would taste excellent. It's also too bad that I'm not a liquorice fan either. :P But when I saw this at my local store I couldn't help but pick it up. A new, different beer from Stone? Even though the beer is a stout and it's summer here in Texas...yes please! Give me that beer.

Oh boy does this stout impress with its look. It is black as midnight. Black as coal. It's a black hole. Light cannot escape from it. Even when held up right in front of a light I can't see through it at all. The head pours thick and looks like a chocolate foam. It's so creamy-looking! It recedes fairly quickly and leaves some lacing.

If I said this smelled like liquorice would anyone be surprised? Well, that's the dominant smell but there is some sweetness there too like dark fruits. I think the oak chips soften up the nose because this doesn't have as strong of a smell overall as most stouts though it's difficult to smell much else than the anise (liquorice aroma). Dark malts are in there too. In some ways it smells sort of like a root beer but less sweet and liquorice being dominant. I'm not really sure what I should think about the smell. On one hand I'd say the anise is overpowering but on the other hand I've never smelled a beer like this. However, a good beer has balance to it and the smell is definitely not that albeit the smell is interesting and unique.

Taste in many ways is like the smell. The anise is very strong. I'd recommend letting this sit out for awhile before drinking because if you drink it very cold the anise is extremely overpowering, sort of like if you drink a very hoppy beer ice cold. With the anise there is a lot of warmth from the 10.5% ABV but it doesn't have a boozy taste. I'm not picking up the Belgian yeast much. Sweet chocolate and dark fruits come in at the end that helps balance out the beer more but in the end this beer is simply not balanced enough for me to really enjoy it. The flavors are good but the anise if just too overpowering.

I find it interesting that this is called an Imperial Russian Stout instead of an RIS. It's definitely not a heavy bodied beer like an RIS but it's still up there. If you disregard the overpowering anise, the Belgo Anise IRS (OMG! It's a government beer!) is pretty drinkable. It's syrupy and velvety with medium carbonation.

I think I'm with most here in saying this is an interesting try at a beer. The anise brings a different flavor that I've ever tried but it's too dominating to make this a more balanced and therefore much more enjoyable beer. Perhaps people who like liquorice will like this more but to me, and it seems the vast majority of others, think there's just way too much of it. I'm really not sure what to rate this overall. It's an interesting take and not something I've experienced before...but I don't like it too much. Maybe next time Stone you'll figure out how to balance this better.

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

A- Black black black with a two finger tan head, good retention. Heavy lacing.

S- Black licorice, and that's pretty much it. Spicy.

T- Dark chocolate, licorice. Jesus Christ a lot of licorice. The usual coffee flavors, maybe some dark fruit notes (black cherry?). Good spiciness.

MF- Thick and creamy but really fuzzy. Over the top carbonation. Heavy, almost hot chocolate like feel.

O/D- Cant taste the booze, which for 10.5 is pretty amazing, I think.Why do I continue to drink this style all summer? Because I love it so. Even for not being a black licorice eater, I still really liked it. Try this!

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Photo of Diesel76
4.16/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bottle at the stone brewery gift shop since my local stores did not have it in stock yet. (Also piced up a bottle of their regular IRS).

I cracked this one open first, and greatly enjoyed the Oaky flavor... it went very well with the Tri Tip I had grilled up for dinner.

Nice thick pour... I love not being able to see thru my pint glass... I enjpoyed this so much I went and picked up two more bottles and have them stored in my wine fridge to enjoy this winter!

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Photo of biglite351
3.26/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - black as night. Tall tight brown head.

S - licorice (the anise obviously) malts,dark chocolate with a hint of hop.

T - licorice, cocoa powder, malt, yeast and just a hint of hop bitterness in the finish.

M - tingle through entire mouth and tongue. Potentially too much tingle. Medium amount of coating.

O - you MUST be in the mood for licorice and not mind the bitter hit.

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Photo of zaphodchak
3.95/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Half finger tan head, dark garnet body.

Nose is soooo anise. Delicious licorice.

Taste follows the nose, quite bitter with a bunch of anise to temper it. Pretty dry otherwise.

Mouthfeel is a bit prickly, but good.

This is big on anise, but I'm not picking up the Belgian yeast. Still quite nice if you like licorice.

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

Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

Pours a midnight black into the snifter, off white/brown head forms and leaves little lacing. Looks appealing and dark. Aroma full of anise, with some oaky suggestions as well. In the flavor, big roasted malt, big anise, some well defined oak/vanilla/wood notes pairing well and even cutting some of the anise flavors. A small piney hop is noticed cold, but upon warming is lost. Mouthfeel is full bodied but ultra smooth. Overall, not an every day drinker, but a nice brewing experiment.

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Photo of nickfl
3.2/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours with half a finger of orange-tan head on an opaque, black body. The foam disappears quickly and leaves very little lace on the glass.

S - Earthy notes of chocolate and licorice with a bit of clove. Surprisingly little else, maybe a little molasses but that's about it.

T - Dark sugar notes up front with lots of molasses and brown sugar as well as some licorice. Some slightly fruity notes of cherry and red apple in the middle as well as a bit of tobacco. The dark sugar dominates the finish and the anise is right there with it in a sort of charred, woody way.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a somewhat dry finish.

D - To be honest, this sounded a lot better than it turned out to be. The anise works with the dark malt in a strange way that makes it come off more like licorice with a very dark, syrupy character rather than the bright, spicy notes I would normally expect. The Belgian yeast character is kind of subdued and only contributes a few fruity apple and cherry notes in the middle. The oak is really the last straw as it gives the beer an astringent harshness in the finish and contributes to the burnt character of the molasses notes. It isn't quite a drain pour, but it is pretty disappointing and I definitely won't be drinking this beer again.

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Photo of smcolw
3.68/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown where light only passes through the glass edge. Tan head that settles to a single layer of bubbles. Leaves ring lace after each sip.

Dark malt aroma with a light tinge of licorice. No coffee or dark chocolate smells.

Imagine Good-n-Plenty dissolved in a dry porter. It doesn't have any of the burnt elements of a Stout. I'm fascinated by the taste--this unlike any beer I've ever had. So, I have to give it points for originality. The main taste and the aftertaste is mostly licorice (anise). Thinner than most stouts.

Worthy of a try because it is a very different beer.

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Photo of mindlucent2007
3.93/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a menacing black body with a quarter-inch tan bubbly and fluffy head that settles into a small mass. There appears to be lower carbonation and pretty much no lacing. The scent is smokey, molasses, coffee and licorice. Taste is dominated by the anise, but at the same time it is not overdone. This is a smooth stout and carbonation is very low. I don't sense a strong kick to this brew and it definitely has a light mouthfeel with no aftertaste, except a faint trace of coffee. No alcohol detected at all. A well-developed Imperial Russian Stout and you can tell that Stone took the right approach as usual delivering a unique and complex, but very drinkable heavier style stout. A great style and one of the better stouts I have experienced in a minute.

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Photo of Viciousknishs
4.32/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- pours an opaque inky black with a finger and a half of tan crema colored head. Retention is not that great but what do you expect at 10.5% ABV. Head recedes intoba thin halo of tight bubbles.

S- let me start by saying that I am a sucker for anise/licorice aromas and flavor. Starts out like a good and plenty. Anise black licorice fills the nostrils with a note of candy sweetness. A hint of oak cuts the sweetness beautifully but doesn't overpower. I'm having a hard time picking out the Belgian yeast but there is a softer nose to this then the classic IRS. Finishs with a smooth roast and subtle chocolate.

T- Tastes like a chocolate covered licorice stick. Dark chocolate and anise flavors run rampent on the palate. Dark bakers chocolate mingles in with a dusty char roasted note that I have found in a lot of belgian style stouts. Finishs with a slightly rough oak and a choolate aftertaste.

MF- smooth thick chewy mouthfeel with a full body and average carbonation.

D- this is a big boy with lots of complexity. Drinkability is ok however. Time, I think, would work out some of the kinks and meld the flavors a bit better. Overall great beer and love the anise!

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

Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

Right off, let's look at the components of this beer: Belgian yeast, anise, and oak chips. Do they seem to incorporate well into the Russian Imperial Stout category? I think so. Certainly Belgian yeast has been used to great effect; and the oak chips should help to dry it and give it a little more character. What of the anise? Well that's been done as well; and a licorice flavor occasionally ends up in the style anyway due to the combination of dark malts and 'minty' hop flavors.

In tasting it fresh, the anise is quite strong. It's fairly bright in the nose, and quite bold in the flavor. That may change as it ages, however I think it'll probably remain the dominant note given my experience with it. What we'll end up with is a softer, almost sweeter malt, with almost as much anise as it currently has, leaving it almost cola-like. But who's to say? A big hit of anise seems to be what they were going for as the bottle reads "...this Odd Year version doesn't just have 'notes' of anise... it screams it. Big, loud and proud. Like the Russian Czarists. Presumably". (Hmmm... whomever wrote the text for this bottle could use a refresher in grammar). That said, the brazen note of anise hurts the aroma because it's so bold, and it blocks out the remaining complexity of the beer. Intended or not, it's a bit of a pitfall.

The Belgian yeast works within the confines of the 'brightness' of the anise, and it's sometimes hard to find it in there. I pick up some spiciness (clove, pepper), some vanilla (or is that coming from the oak?), and some dark fruit (raisin, plum). Beyond that I get a little bit of molasses, and some buttery sugared bread in the malt.

The oak makes its way through though, and lends a raspy edge to it. That should die down a bit with age, and if the anise cooperates, some nice woody character may shine through.

As for the rest of the beer, it's well put together as it always has been. It seems that they've reduced the bitterness quite a bit, although I might be imagining that. With all that anise, however, a bold bitterness isn't even needed as it dries it on its own.

Overall, I'd have to say this beer needs to be looked at hedonistically rather than stylistically; and that's basically asking "Do you like the flavor of anise"? Well, do you punk?

But I also think it has immense possibilities for cooking and food-pairing: a reduction drizzled over crispy-baked, golden and fatty pork-chops atop a bed of fried brown rice and grilled green pepper; just brushed onto a porterhouse steak with some fresh crushed pepper while grilling and then set aside raw carrots and basil-infused mashed potaotes; as an accompaniment to a wide variety of Indian dishes; or in an ice cream with peanut butter - the possibilities are endless and I hope some professional chefs pick this beer up and run with it!

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Photo of CaptainTripps
1.56/5  rDev -55.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

22oz bottle poured into a duvel tulip. Served slightly chilled.

A: This beer pours jet black with slight, and I mean slight dark brown hues on the edges in the light. The pour came with about 2-3 fingers worth of dark mocha brown head. Left some lacing on the side of the glass. A great looking beer.

S: Black licorice. Holy freaking CRAP. The anise quality of this beer is almost to much to handle. The smell is so intense its actually hard to make other aromas the beer is giving off. I smell very faint roasted malts and chocolate; also some oak and dark fruits.

**I don't mind licorice at all, but this is going over board. At first whif, i was actually thinking about not taking a sip at all but went with it for the hell of it.**

T: Following the nose perfectly, taking a sip of this beer is like geting slapped in the face with a anise plant. It is over powering and completely revolting. It is so strong, I have hard time trying to figure out the other flavors. After powering through a quarter of the beer it became a drain pour.

M: Besides the awful taste, the beers mouth feel wasn't to bad. Medium bodied and very smooth. It was slightly over carbonated but not to bad. Alcohol was well hiddin by the disgusting taste.

O: Just plain bad.

They tried to turn Jagermeister (which I love) into beer and it simply did not work. Will be avoiding this beer like the plague.

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Photo of TheWhiskerReview
4.27/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 "Odd-Year" Release

Pours pitch black with a 2 finger tan head. Moderate retention and sticky lace. Very similar to the 2011 RIS.

Once this nose opens up, and it takes a good 10-15 minutes for it to harmonize, it attacks with the purest and most intense black licorice character you'll ever smell- with intense earthy and medicinal undertones of dark forest fruits, oaky mushroom and dark german bread. The immensely spicy, herbal character of the anise combined with the Belgian yeast makes this very reminiscent of absinthe and/or a 19th century-recipe root beer.

The palate is full-bodied, rich and slightly thicker than the RIS- moderate bitterness, a chewy malt and a slightly stewed fruitiness- more flavors of black licorice, cassis, absinthe, bran flakes, coffee, cacao and that intense spice. Finish is long, starts roasty sweet, and ends intensely bitter and herbal with mate and mocha flavors.

This thing is so freakin wild. Flavors such as black licorice, mushrooms, absinthe, root beer and mate, are all sort of love or hate kinda flavors, and they're all here. I love how Stone can make a beer that challenges even the most adventurous of palates. This will certainly not appeal to everyone, but that's the point. If all the breweries of the world went to a rock concert, Stone is definitely the ass-hole in the mosh pit.

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Photo of HoppyToad
3.32/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Reviewed by three people after picking up a bottle at the Stone Brewery, World Bistro & Gardens gift shop.

Appearance: Looks darn good. Just like Stone's traditional Russian Imperial.

Smell: All three of us agreed there's some serious pepperoni going on.

Taste: Drinkable. Could use more cheese.

Mouthfeel: Quite nice, actually.

Overall: It would be a good addition to your next Stout-tasting party. Not something we'd drink on a regular basis, but we certainly respect Stone for taking a chance and changing up their tried-and-true formula this year. But we're also glad to have purchased a few bottles of their original recipe on our brewery visit.

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Photo of Naugros
3.87/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I loved the IRS that Stone originally put out...not the tax people. So now they've made a Belgian-style stout with anise. The ratings don't seem favorable so far, which makes me smile because I think sometimes anything Stone, DFH or Russian River puts out is smiled upon by the beer geeks and they get props just for being who they are. Either that didn't happen here or this beer REALLY sucks. One dude did complain about there being too much the bottle! If anise is not your thing then buy a beer that doesn't advertise it on the bottle.

The look of it is standard for a stout of any kind (except the freakish nitro stouts that defy nature..apologies to Old Rasputin which I love, but beer is carbonated, not nitronated).

It smells unlike any beer I've ever smelled. It's like a Coca-cola had a handful of black jelly beans melted into it...almost root beer. There a re a few of the regular aroma notes from a Belgo stout: vinous booze (but well hidden) and some roast/chocolate (even more hidden). So it doesn't really conform to the style but I really like the smell, knowing what it is they're trying to do here.

The flavor seems to be what might be tripping people up. If they expected an RIS (no idea why Stone goes IRS unless they're trying to avoid an audit by paying homage to that Federal band of thieves) then they're going to be put off by the taste. If they were expecting a Belgian-style import stout then this is not far off. BA is not helping by putting this into the RIS category though. Still, getting the style square only helps a doesn't make it taste any better. The anise still comes through as licorice, as is its wont, and the vinous notes of this style are present and the roast is more prevalent on the tongue than in the nose. The root beer as an overall flavor sense is strong. What's really not doing it for me is the misbalance of this one. The flavors don't come at you in a cohesive attack. It's more like the extras in a kung fu movie who all wait until it's safe to attack the star, because if you hit him when he's busy with someone else you might hurt him. The flavors are disjointed and almost at odds with each other, but this improves as the beer warms. It's not completely integrated but it becomes more drinkable.

Stone can do better than this (we ALL know that), but I like that they tried this on a national scale. I'm an East Coaster so I've never been to their brewpub and have not had a lot of their Belgian-style offerings other than Belgique. I hope to have more and see what they can do. The West Coast still kicks the crap out of the East Coast in their genius and ample utilization of hops, but the East Coast is still a bit ahead on employing Belgian yeast strains coherently.

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Photo of DavidST
3.98/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I've looked for the Stone RIS since I got into craft brews five(ish) years ago (which started due to Old Rasputin), I've not had any luck until this year where I've been lucky enough to get both the Belgo Anise and regular RIS. I decided to start with this one.

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a goblet.

This pours a pitch black color which stops light from getting through even the edges. There was a small mocha head which very quickly dissipated. The smell is mostly of anise and licorice, there are also roasted malts, coffee and an alcohol smell. The mouth feel is thick and creamy very nice. The taste is of roasted malts, espresso coffee, licorice / anise, maybe a hint of sweetness, it ends big with a good hop bite a slight alcohol burn (surprisingly well hidden though considering how fresh this is) and you get some anise lingering after flavor. Overall this is a nice taste brew, love it, can't wait to try the regular soon.

I have 5 more of these so I might make additional notes when I try them every 6-12 months or so.

--- EDIT ---
One major negative for me is after drinking this beer perhaps from the loads of anise I had one of the worst stomach aches ever, I'm scared to tr another bottle. Hopefully it was something else.

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Photo of Phelps
4.05/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed in a snifter at Papago.

Inky, creamy black, absorbing like the ocean at night. A tight, one-finger head of khaki slowly becomes a medium ring.

The original IRS is definitely in the nose, though it’s behind a buttload of anise. Milk chocolate, peanuts and toast combine with the spice to smell like root beer.

A similar takeover occurs in the flavor — I get lots and lots of black licorice, ginger and acrid toast. Behind those are sweeter nutty notes and some cocoa. It becomes drying and licorice bitter after the swallow, with lots of anise lingering on the sides of the tongue.

The feel exhibits the same awesomeness as the standard version. Super soft and creamy, with a medium-full body, moderate massaging carbonation and very soft fizziness that combine to feel like liquid velvet

Well, it sure is different. I was afraid the additional ingredients would take over the base RIS, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I dig the blend.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
2.29/5  rDev -34.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Appearance -- Pours an impossibly dark brown with a slim creamy tan head. Handsome.

Smell -- Anise, anise, burnt malt, more anise, earthy yeast, cocoa, and anise.

Taste -- Whoa, LOTS of anise! Some well-roasted malt and cocoa eek out, as well as what seems to be the Belgian yeast flavors, but anise is really drowning everything out. Bleh.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation. Could be fuller, but not bad.

Overall -- Not a fan. Instead of giving the phenolic Belgian yeast character a 'boost' with the anise, it drowned everything out. For all I know, this could well be regular IRS with heaps of anise. Not good for drinking, but I bet this would make some mean gingerbread.

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Photo of Dunkelhund
4.25/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is Beer with an intimidating nose that is deceptively aggressive and may scare some from braving the inky depths of the glass.

This is a Black. Beer. with a rich head of mocha colored foam on top and an aroma of, what might that be... Black Licorice, maybe? Damn right. My other half looked at me with wide eyes after the first whiff, but it was a look of pleasant surprise because she likes that kind of thing.

Oak and Hops Burst through the door as you tip back the glass and drench your tongue with its contents, though, so the Anise didn't come to this party alone. The mouthfeel is thick and heavy and the rich, roasted malts are coffee-like and give this Beer a sturdy backbone. Don't worry, you forget about the Anise... it's there the whole time, though it's not so strong that you can't enjoy the other flavors. This one has a nice, lingering finish also.

I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of this brew and comparatively priced I think it's a bargain offering for its caliber.

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Photo of whatthehull
4.24/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted June 2nd 2011 (from notes)

Poured into a la Chouffe tulip

A - deep thick oil black, super dark tan half finger head and a little lacing

S - anise up front, molasses, toffee, coffee, bittersweet chocolate, slight hops, very pungently sweet yeast, oak, toasted goodness, dark fruits and very earthy. Slight vanilla and leather notes

T - anise, chocolate, coffee, very sweet (definitely the belgian yeast), alcohol, herbal outside of anise, slight hops. Oak, dry sherry, toasted everything, deep dark fruits, molasses and slight toffee

M - thick, chewy, low acidity, long finish and well balanced

D - very smooth, well balanced, robust, full bodied awesomeness. Wish this beer came out in the fall and winter. This thing is a huge but awesome stout

Final thought - great beer, 10.5% and only $5, this beer is awesome. Thank you stone!

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Photo of ferrari29
4.2/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer poured from bottle into a snifter shaped glass

A - Beer poured with a latte/espresso colored half finger sized head, which dissipated rather quickly; body had a dark brown almost black colored body; nice layer of lacing formed around the glass, but wasn't very sticky

S - Roasted malt; lemon; anise and dark fruit; oak; clean airy smell; celery; some smokiness; coffee; notes of dark chocolate; burnt toast

T - Anise; Sambuca and Ouzo flavor, licorice really overwhelms the flavor profile in this beer; raisin; some chocolate; dark fruit flavor of raisin and figs hit the tongue; espresso; roasted malt backbone; celery

M - Slightly effervescent; bitter lingering coffee aftertaste; this is a high quality mouthfeel beer; small amount of licorice flavor lingers for a while; nice smooth full body but thinner than the IRS

D - Great flavor and body profile; really nice combination of flavors and I give many props to the Stone team for thinking of using Anise for this recipe, good choice; this is a easily drinkable beer and should be enjoyed by all RIS lovers; smooth

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Photo of asabreed
3.75/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber into a 12 oz. Samuel Smith nonic.

Appearance: Like a Stone RIS is and most likely always will be. Opaque with a good amount of bubbles, sans ring of retention, and some dripping raindrops slowly descending their way to the bottom.

Smell: Stone's RIS with not a lot of anise, or not as much as I'd hoped and / or anticipated on. Star anise seems like something that's only fit for a certain amount of brews, and I'm not sure an RIS is one of them.

Taste: Again, an RIS, with maybe a hint of anise in it, as far as I'm concerned. Belgian yeast? What's the point? Is it adding anything? I really don't think so. That said: I like what's happening.

Mouthfeel: As big as always, with a nice creaminess to the carbonation.

Drinkability: For around $6 or $7, it's worth a shot if you're a Stone RIS fan. Just don't think you're getting something that'll blow you away. A novelty beer that makes its case to be more than that, but not MUCH more than that.

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Photo of SkipWeathers
3.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - deep inky black, dark brown fizz, no head

S - licorice (anise), menthol

T - licorice mainly; some coffee tones, mint; the anise taste reminds me of when I'd sample those star-shaped anise plants in my parents' herb garden

M - cooling quality, little carbonation, thick & rich, deep ink-like quality; slight sourness; definitely the last beer or only beer you drink in a night

O - wish I could say I liked it more; I think I prefer my specialty stouts barrel-aged with bourbon; this leaves you with a very minty taste in your mouth; kind of refreshing

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.46/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I am not sure what to think about this beer, so I picked one up anyway. I like black jelly beans and Pernod in moderation, so hopefully I will like this beer. I am not sure if Anise belongs in a beer, but in an Imperial Stout is definitely the best candidate, IMO. Let's see what we have here:

Appearance: Pours dark as could be with a solid 2" of milk-chocolate colored head on top that is maintained by lots of bubbles rising and butting up against the glass, so you can see them. The head appeared motionless for well over a minute.

Aroma: The liquorice was already apparent through the foam, and it is so strong that I really can't get much else. I feet the "prickle" from the alcohol, and there may be a bit of chocolate and roast in there, but the Anise is a very big player.

Taste: The flavor also favors the Anise, but it doesn't completely overpower the cold beer, but I am not sure how much of this I will be able to take as it warms. The second and subsequent sips seem to get used to the Anise pretty quickly so that the acidity of the roast malts are starting to be apparent. The balance is tipped slightly toward the malt with balance provided by dark-malt acidity as much as by the alcohol. There are some hops in here that are especially apparent in the first part of the flavor, but they don't dominate the finish. The carbonation is absolutely required for this beer, and is sufficient to make it drinkable.

Opinion: This is an OK beer, but a little much for my taste. I like Black Liquorice and all that, but it was a bit out of balance in this example. I would prefer that it be more of an accent, so maybe they would have to sell it as an "Anise accentuated" beer rather than so boldly "Belgo Anise". This describes what it is, their IRS, with Belgian yeast and Anise, but I would prefer that it be more complimentary, than unmistakable. As it is, if you are a BIG fan of Anise, definitely give this a shot before it goes away. I am not sure if I will be able to finish this beer once it get's much warmer.

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Photo of McNealc31
4.36/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big, bold, black, and very aggressive. You'll need a few pours to fit all this in one glass. The smell is nearly all anise, with some wood. It's quite creamy with a lot of that black licorice flavor, dry wood, roasted malt, spicy hops. Outstanding lacing lures you in to try to find more flavors, the ones more common in a Russian Imperial Stout. If you hunt, you will pick up some of the currants, chocolate, coffee, but the anise is the real star here. I could see where some say it's overpowering, but I love the flavor, so it's working for me. The 10.5% ABV warms through the finish, along with a fun bitter bite.

Another unique, tasty brew from Stone. But you have to love anise to love this. If you don't, you will hate it.

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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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