Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian StoutBelgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout
943 Ratings
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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 943 |  Reviews: 449
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.18/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours an opaque black with a 2 inch tan head that fades to a thin cap. Random lattices of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smells of Good & Plenty candy first and foremost along with minor hints of wood and roasted malt. Slight whiffs of soy sauce come out as the beer warms. Definitely an interesting smell in a RIS, let alone any beer to be honest. I like black licorice, so I am not as wary of the smell as other reviewers are. Taste opens up with black licorice flavors that slowly fade into dark roasted malt, bitter chocolate, and wood flavors. The aftertaste is the same as you get from eating lots of black licorice. The mouthfeel on this beer is quite weird too. It's a bit flat with a smooth and thick feel, but the anise seems to have a numbing effect on the palate. I don't like the mouthfeel at all because of this. Overall, I am somewhat unimpressed with this beer. I know Stone is trying to be different with their "Odd Beers For Odd Years" campaign and this is a pretty odd beer. It's not bad per se but the anise/black licorice smell and taste are very one dimensional and pretty much overpower anything else this beer has to offer. For example, I detect no Belgian yeast in the smell or taste of this beer whatsoever. I only bought one bottle to give this a shot and I am glad I did because I will not be buying any more of this version. I love the normal Stone IRS but this one is just way off the mark in my opinion.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
3.88/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 "Odd Year" Release

A: Pours pitch black with about 1/2 an inch of chocolate brown head

S: Dark fruits most likely from the Belgian yeast along with fairly strong notes of anise/black licorice, faint notes of oak, chocolate, coffee and malts. Pretty much what you'd expect given the 'amped up' regular version

T: Pretty much dominated by the anise and yeast. The other aspects that usually make this an amazing beer are overshadowed, and the oak is barely present

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Not cloying, and none of the flavors, not even the anise, stick around for too long

O: Not bad, and definitely holds up to the name, but you REALLY have to like black licorice or else you will not like this beer

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Photo of surprenant1138
2.25/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Pours a deep black with a quarter inch creamy tan hea with good retention of lacing. Aroma is of black licorice, and that is pretty much it. I hate black licorice. Taste is of black licorice. I hate black licorice. This tastes like a stout with black licorice in it. Maybe there is some oak there. I love Stone IRS, but I hate black licorice. This makes the first Stone beer I dislike.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.72/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours very black, not much head, ring and some spot lace.

S - Black licorice first, malt second.

T - Matches smell completely.

M - Medium body, good carb, cleans up pretty well by end of sip.

D - Was afraid from the review to try. Anise is not my favorite spice, but I find it works with this brew. Different and fun. Wouldn't want it all night and probably would never try it again, but definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Ynot2
2.61/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I was excited to try this beer, I love most Stone beers and this should be no exception.

Pours a black, solid dark with 2 finger deep beige head. This looks nice in the tulip glass.

Aromas of alcohol, spices, oak?, Belgian yeast, earth, and caramel maybe waft up as I bring the glass towards my nose.

Initial flavors hit the tongue and I think WTF? Way too spicy and sweet, alcohol and licorice but nothing melds together in a good way. Not sure what the goal was, but pretty sure they missed the mark.

Mouthfeel is pretty good for a Belgo. No real complaints but nothing that blows me away. Thick enough, and creamy, decent carbonation but could have been bumped up a notch.

Overall, not impressed. The spices were too strong and varied to enjoy the complexity I think they were going for. Glad the standard IRS was released this year as well as it is great.

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Photo of Trilogy31
3.98/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an obsidian black with a frothy two fingers of mocha tinged head leaving pretty lacing, impressive appearance. The nose has hints of mint chip, licorice slight hints of chicory coffee and roasted malt with the faintest wisp of belgian yeast spice. The taste brings prominent notes of mint chocolate chip ice cream up front, brandy barrel spices, cacao. Finishes with very dry cocao powder and oaky tannins. I was somewhat impressed by this beer and the mint chocolate notes i enjoy i can see as being interpreted as unpleasant. Good beer overall.

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Photo of StoneBrewFanatic
3.98/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours into my snifter jet black with a little more than a finger of mocha colored head that had moderate retention and lots of sticky lacing.

S - Deep roasted malts, lots of anise, sweet molasses, chocolate, vanilla, oak and spice.

T - Anise and oak are both very upfront and present, has a nice spice to it, a little on the sweet side with chocolate and vanilla, roasted malts kind of take a backseat to all the other flavors, finish is a touch on the warm side.

M - Smooth and creamy, just a little on the thin side to me.

O - This is really very enjoyable, as long as your an anise fan of course! Definitely worth trying.

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Photo of jayhawk73
4.08/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep black w/ a beautiful two finger chocolate head into my snifter. Just about perfect looking beer. Impossibly black, great carbonation and lacing.

S- Toast, chocolate, coffee, malt.. Nice smelling beer. Just wish the smell was a touch stronger. Not quite as good as the IRS version.

T- All the smells present here. Really nice beer. Not quite up to the level of IRS, but it's really well done. Enjoyed this one quite a bit.

M- Rich, luxurious, velvety. Very nice. Great aftertaste as well.

O- Great beer. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Beejay
3.9/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Voluptuous chocolate colored head, atop a very black beer.

S: A nice strong chocolate smell, followed by a bitter black licorice scent. There is definitely a candy like smell about this one.

T: Rich chocolate malt, with touches of fruit. The licorice flavor comes out in the finish alongside a strong earthy bitterness. The anise really adds a level of complexity that I don't think could be achieved through the regular brewing process. Perhaps not amazing, but certainly well executed and tasty.

M: Medium bodied, and creamy smooth. Carbonation is a bit low though.

O: Overall quite tasty, something very interesting, and a good departure from the norm.

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Photo of BeerLover99
3.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: opaque black, 1 finger oatmeal head, cool lacing

S: belgian yeast, citrus, hint of dark chocolate, roasted nuts, licorice

T: sweet yeast, big malt, spices, roasted nuts, slight boozy finish seems a little too chaotic on the palate

M: med, smooth, mild chewy, could be heavier
(Baltic porter body)

O: I was intrigued by this beer, picked it up.
Big sipping adventure. I think it tries to do too much.
Think I'll pass on getting this again; the Stone
RIS was amazing, but this was just too odd.


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Photo of mondegreen
2.99/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz Bomber into a Stone IRS tulip.

Pours jet black with a two finger khaki head. Nice looking, healthy IRS heritage here.

Nose is... alarming. Is that spicy licorice? WTF? A distinctive roasted sweetness and hot alcohol notes keep this thing from falling off the map right away. Smells decent, but things just seem out of place.

Tastes like someone dropped a licorice potpourri in my Stone IRS. I cannot believe Stone was going to make this the only release if IRS this year. Thank God they changed thier minds. Anyways, this thing is way way way overspiced. They could have cut the spices by half and still been overpowering.

Mouth is great for a Belgo Stout. These things are usually water thin, but this one has a nice character.

Overall, this I an experiment gone awry. I'm getting no oak, which COULD have helped balance this thing out a little. I'm not sure who Stone's target audience is with this spice bomb. Bored housewives? Santa's elves? Whatever. I'm sticking with regular IRS for the rest of the year.

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Photo of david18
3.03/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had this on a recent visit to Rattle N Hum in Manhattan's midtown area. I'd never heard of this style so naturally I was very curious about it. Not crazy for it but interesting nonetheless.

Appearance was very dark with a medium size, and also dark, head. Carbonation did stick around for a while and left a bunch of lacing.

Aroma was kind of a mess. Combination of the belgian yeast with the dark fruit and roastiness of the malt resulted in an uncomplimentary combination.

The flavor was also bit all over the place. Strong alcohol combined with roastiness combined with a sweetness; all of which didn't blend well.

Overall, like many "belgo" american hybrids, I think this beer missed the mark.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
2.02/5  rDev -42.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

I should've just stuck with the regular Stone IRS. That is all you really need to read.

A - It pours jet-black, with less head than the regular version. Average RIS.

S - The nose is just exactly like the Brach's root beer barrel candies. Exactly. The only other thing I could compare it to is a Key West Root Beer (1 part Jägermeister, 1 part root beer Schnapps, splash of Coke...) which is also a dead-ringer.

T - It tastes like 2 parts melted root beer barrel candy, 1 part Vodka with a float of black Sambuca and garnished with a black licorice stick. I like black licorice. I do not like this beer whatsoever.

M - Feels like a normal RIS. I cannot allow much of the repulsive fluid into my gullet, so I cannot dig for specifics.

O - Though I am not the boss at Stone, nor am I privy to any inside information... this one is a one-and-done. It has to be. MFs are losing their livelihood if this travesty is perpetrated again.

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Photo of scootny
4.18/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A Huge head that has me licking the sides of my glass like an ice cream cone. Beautiful near black brew with a streaked head of light and dark brown. Layered nose with big anise facet that gives way to dark fruits, cherries, oak, smoke, and molasses. Nice chocolate as well. Taste follows nose with a well integrated alcohol sweetness and firm bitterness as well. Lingering bits of molasses and bread as well as anise and sweet booze. Feel is lighter than it has a right to be and creamy smooth as well. A fine beer that while flamboyant in anise is well crafted and quite drinkable. Very good stuff here.

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Photo of trappistlover
3.38/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(22oz bottle from Total Wine Desert Ridge). Pours black with a massive khaki head. Aroma has licorice, chocolate and some dark fruit. Taste is dominated by anise and it has some sweetness and a touch of roasty bitterness. Full bodied with slick texture. Finish is quite smooth even with the anise. Some alcohol is noticeable. I’m torn on this one. I love anise and I love the idea behind this beer, but I wasn’t blown away as I had hoped

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Photo of imbibehour
3.3/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter. 2011 odd year release.

A very large cocoa brown head off the pour is made somewhat uniform bubbles, good together swirling lacing.

Faint anisette qualities on the nose. Candy, and mild malt feel with lots of sweet Belgian style sense (yeast). Roast character lacking, but definitely a nice bouquet, not an overpowering sugar bomb, I enjoy it.

Taste is all black licorice/fennel/anise. Nothing else comes through, no malty backbone, no roast character, fruit... nothing, just lots of sweetness and exacerbating the sticky sweet quality. After some time the tongue and palate gets really dried out.

Well, pretty disappointed with this Russian Imperial from Stone as well. Drinkable yes but I would rather have Labyrinth from Uinta than this which is sort of similar in style but better tasting.

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Photo of SirSketch
3.11/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Thin head that retains well and has a mocha color. The beer is basically black with only a minute reddish-brown color peaking through.

S - Chocolate black licorice, and some vanilla. There may be a bit of fruity alcohol and clove, but the star anise blankets much of the other aromas.

T - More roast and less chocolate than in the nose, tropical fruit that reminds me of canned pineapple, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Then comes the licorice, star anise flavor that takes the reigns and makes for a strong, overpowering licorice aftertaste.

M - A bit thinner than I remember the original, maybe from the yeast strain or oak. Not off-putting, though.

O - Although I love the initiative and experimental attitude, this is really a 'kitchen-sink' beer that is so much less enjoyable than the standard IRS.

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Photo of Arenbeer
2.58/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

22oz bottle into a Goblet glass

Served slightly below room temperature

2011 Odd Year Release

A- Pours pitch black with a 1 finger light brown head that sticks around. Not much head retention but leaves some nice legs on the side of the glass.

S- Smells like root beer. Dark burnt malts with strong anise, fennel, or black licorice. Dark unsweetened chocolate, coffee, slight fruitiness from the yeast, and plenty of fenal alcohol notes. Very unique I'll give it that.

T- The taste is a spitting image of the aroma. Dark burnt malts with an overwhelming black licorice/anise flavor that doesn't blend evenly at all. Behind that is subtle notes of chocolate, coffee, and alcohol.

M- Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation and a nice slightly bitter finish.

Overall you gotta really be into black licorice to drink this beer. Me personally I don't think I'll make it through this glass let alone a whole 22oz bottle. The anise is way to strong and becomes almost gross and unbearable the more you drink it. Sorry Stone but not a big fan of this.


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Photo of harrymel
1.84/5  rDev -47.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Vintage 2011, odd year version.

A: Black ale with cherry hedging and excellent clarity. Single finger of light mocha foam falls to a thin sheet of the same. No lacing.

S: ANISE SEED TAKES 90%+ OF THIS AREA. As I really dig deep, I can reach in for some roasted notes, but again, the anise seed is exactly what I'm getting. I expected some of the Belgo yeast to add character here, and maybe it does, but the anise seed is soooo powerful, I can't seem to really enjoy everything this beer could offer. Sometimes, just as I start to smell this, it reminds me of root beer, but then it just becomes overwhelming anise seed without any attempt at balance.

T: Soooo, this is like anise seed tea, carbonated. There are some burnt coffee flavors in here. I'm tasting some of the belgian yeast in the finish, but overall the Anise is just too powerful to really enjoy an entire bomber of this beer. It reminds me of Raki, a turkish liquor that is also really strong in the anise seed flavors, and to be sipped over the course of quite some time (this is also quite thin and refreshing and flat).

M: Thick and creamy feel with lower carbonation and a dry finish. Really a nice combination and the finish allows for resonance. Too bad the resonating flavors are offensive in intensity.

O: This is really disappointing. I think this idea could really be great, but the execution here is a bit monolithic in profile of the flavor. The look and feel are great, but my olfactory and gustatory sensations are offended, this was a drain pour for me.

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Photo of ocelot2500
4.41/5  rDev +26%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown, almost black with a tight, mocha head that leaves plenty of lacing.

Smells of big anise notes and some underlying oak as well.

Tastes of all of the prescribed ingredients, along with a little something extra. Anise definitely leads, but as I finish my snifter full, I notice the other flavors taking charge. A moderate oak woodiness and vanilla add some complements to anise which lends to way some roasted malt characteristics. Typical roasted malts come in and make this beer recognizable with notes of espresso, semi-sweet chocolate, and brown sugar. On the end there is some nice fruitiness with notes of raisins and black currants.

Mouthfeel is full and has a creamy amount of carbonation.

Overall, this seems like Stone set out to make not necessarily a better RIS, but to make a different one than what they have. I think they succeeded fully in doing this. However, there are some pretty big anise notes that some might feel are overdone, but I don't hence my score. Other than that, this is a fantastic brew and still has some interesting ideas worth tasting for yourself.

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Photo of kirok1999
1.58/5  rDev -54.9%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Unusual black color in the pour. A nice black with wispy white head.
Rich and dense look as it coats the glass.
Intriguing black legs left on the side of the glass.
Nose is of strong anise and fennel.
Aroma is strong and permeates the palate/
Lush and creamy

Creamy and dense in the mouth
A nice beer but the nose is way too strong of what...?
Keep wanting to sip this to nail down the exact overall taste.
Extremely difficult to stomach much more due to the smell.

Well, that was thoroughly unpleasant. The anise didn't come off well at all and gave the beer an overall funky, restroom kind of note.

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Photo of CHADMC3
3.86/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an oil slick black body with a very dark brown, mocha colored head that is thick & creamy and really takes its time to give way to the dense, sticky lacing.

Big roasted malt aromas leap from the glass, followed by mocha, and the anise oak chips, which add a touch of spice.

The oak and anise flavors are much more prominent in the flavor making the beer a touch woody and a touch spicy with just a bit of sweetness to offset this. The roasted malt is still present as well and as the beer warms, the finish becomes sweeter.

Medium to full in body with medium carbonation and a thicker, syrupy finish.

It is tough to evaluate this beer in the traditional RIS category, however given what I believe Stone to be aiming for, I think it was a success. The anise oak wood chips certainly show through the traditional Stone RIS. A nice twist that was certainly worth a try.

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Photo of emmasdad
3.73/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bomber of this one about a week or so back at Argonaut, curious to see how this one differed from the original. Poured a deep oily black color with a thin brown head. Aromas of black licorice, chocolate and vanilla. On the palate, this one was medium bodied, with flavors of oak, anise and black licorice.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.05/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, I let the bottle sit for a half hour after taking it out of the fridge before opening it. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about an inch tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. Aroma is anise, roasted malt, chocolate, coffee and some root beer. Taste is similar to the aroma. I think the anise flavor is the strongest in this brew, but it doesn't quite overpower the roasted malt, chocolate, molasses and coffee flavors. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy and slick with moderate carbonation. I think it's a good overall brew. But if you don't like anise or licorice, then this beer probably isn't for you.

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Photo of dragonWhale
1.69/5  rDev -51.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

Split a bottle of this up with some peoples to investigate just what the hell is going on in Escondido. Something in the water, surely.
The Belgo Old Guardian wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't an improvement. I suppose we will see what time will do to that beer. Well, not me, but someone surely bought a case or two and is praying like hell.
Pours dark and thick, a little ruby edge, low carbonation, but otherwise looks like that most reasonable of Stone IRS offerings. An evil twin, perhaps.
A little chocolate and roast, not much hop anywheres. But someone appears to have poured a shot of absynthe into my glass. Licorice as a mofo. This is not going to end well. Not really picking out any "Belgian yeast notes."
This is a pretty gross fennel bomb. How often can you say that a beer is a fennel bomb? I only got about halfway finished with mine before someone through my glass away. I wasn't even mad. Oh well.
Stone, I like a lot of what you do. So why did you do this? Will it age gracefully 5 years from now? Will the licorice blend in, the yeast bring out dark fruit notes that meld with the stout?
Tell me later, I'm not buying one.

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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 3.5 out of 5 with 943 ratings