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 ksimons
3.68/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-pours a silky deep brown black with a thin layer of tan head

S-roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, and a hint of smoke

T-Roasted malts, molasses start out and then bitter coffee and dark chocolate finish. The anise is somewhat in the middle with a slight licorice spice to it. The yeast gives it more of a sweeter, lighter finish than most other RIS

M-medium body, very light carbonation, leaves a bitter coffee like coating on the mouth

Not as good as the standard Stone RIS but pretty interesting

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Photo of AnPiobaire
3.21/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had been looking forward to this release and finally got my hand on several bottles. I poured the Belgo Anise at about 50 degrees into a snifter. It poured a rich dark brown/black with a thin caramel colored head that dissipated fairly quickly.

The nose is overpowered by the anise/licorice note. There are some faint underlying notes of malt and espresso, but make no mistake licorice rules the nose.

The taste is more of the same. Whatever complexity is in this brew is overpowered by the copious amounts of anise.

The mouthfeel is rich and chewy and carbonation was right where I like it for an imperial stout.

Overall, I was disapointed. Not being a fan of licorice I do like subtle notes of anise in my imperial stouts but this much is too much. The Belgo Anise is a prime example of too much of a good thing is not necessarily a good thing. I will be aging these bottles for a year or two in hopes that the anise will subdue somewhat. Enjoy!!!

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Photo of buzbuzzer
3.95/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Really surprised with this one, will definitely buy a case or two before it starts disappearing.
Not for the normal stout drinker if you expect overly bold roasted flavor that isn't hindered by any additional flavors.
The anise is slightly too much impeding on the stout native flavors; I can only assume it will fade with time. I expected similarity to Abyss and as far as body the beer holds up but really, the anise is far more than any beer I’ve tasted.
Slightly arid flavor with the traditional chocolate notes and roast of Stone IRS. Medium Carbonation, brown/chocolate head, pitch black overall. I would definitely keep a lot of these for future tasting, especially for the price, it is something worth testing out year after year.

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Photo of Stretch270
3.55/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Stone tulip glass.

Appearance - It is a coffee brown/black with an almost milk chocolate head.

Smell - Well you certainly smell the anise, which was already very prominent in the standard IRS Stone puts out. The anise combines with some pretty strong oak aromas. You can certainly tell it was aged in oak barrels.

Taste - Well, if you don't like anise, then you probably won't like this beer as it is there in abundance. I had a very positive view of the Stone IRS because of the hints of anise, I am not sure that I would go for this one over the standard IRS because it is less drinkable. You really have to sip slow or you might be overwhelmed.

Mouthfeel - Heavy, heavy, heavy. That said, it is really what I was looking for when I decided to go with this beer, so I am pretty satisfied by the feel. With the heavy anise flavor, you might not want it on your tongue too long.

Overall - I certainly would prefer the standard IRS, but this is a fun beer to try as it really highlights a flavor I really enjoy generally. To someone who is not a big anise person, might not be for you.

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Photo of bamadog
3.48/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Excited to finally get my hands on this year's batch of the IRS, let alone the odd year release. I'm not really a fan of black licorice, but I figure that Stone has never really let me down, so I'm willing to give it a shot. Review is from notes taken on 6/16/2011 and poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour is a thick and viscous looking brew, and comes out darkest brown/near black and starts with a short 1/2 finger creamy tan head that fades almost immediately to nothing other than a faint scum and uneven ring around the surface; body is entirely opaque, and gives me no idea what the carbonation may look like; no lacing holds on.

Smell: It's interesting -- big roasty malts with a touch of smoke; bittersweet chocolate with some sweeter notes of vanilla; definite presence of the anise and it's not as off-putting as I thought it would be.

Taste: Hmmm... definitely different... I like how it starts and I feel that the anise is more mild than I thought it was going to be, and the big roasty/espresso-like maltiness and some of the bittersweet chocolate, but as it sits in the mouth, the anise really makes a presence and brings a bit of a dark, tart cherry with it; I really don't pick up on any of the Belgian style yeast; rounds out with a warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Feels like I would expect, and it's pretty much spot on with the '11 IRS that I cracked a couple of nights ago -- thick, sticky body with carbonation that provides a little bit of prickliness, but is overall a pretty smooth body; entire mouth is coated and the teeth feel gritty; gums are left tingly and the belly is left warm fro the nearly 11% ABV.

Overall: I'm glad I got to try it, but the anise proves to be a bit much for me. Better luck next time.

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Photo of Wadsey
2.6/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

Served in DFH signature glass. 

A: Pours black with a big tan head that sticks around for a few moments before settling to a skim atop the beer. 

S: Spicy and licorice, smelling like Good & Plenty. Some damp wood. Slight menthol. Sedate roasted malts. At subthreshold of smell, may be citrusy hops.  

T: Licorice pervades taste and runs roughshod over other characteristics. Sweet malt up front.  
Medium bitterness.  The finish is damp wood and a bit of roast, mixed, of course with licorice.

M: Fairly heavy beer with medium-light carbonation  slick and mouthcoating.  Also, warming and a little astringent. 

O: Belgo Anise IRS is an experiment that has gone somewhat awry. The star anise would work well if it were used less liberally. As it is, we are dealing with a licorice bomb. And its drinkability rates poorly.  

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Photo of Blakaeris
4.38/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a creamy tan head that quickly becomes a thin ring, leaving some nice sticky lacing.

Aroma is dominated by smokey dark grain and anise. Underneath, there is some dark fruit and prevalent alcohol.

Taste is more of the dark grain and massive anise flavor from the nose along with rich molasses, and chocolate notes. plenty of sweet dark fruit - notably plum and date. Then a charred dark grain bitterness takes over; along with a very peppery yeast character. Alcohol warmth comes on strong and has a presence throughout. Finishes very dry and woody, along with a welcome touch of aromatic spice and vanilla from the oak aging.

Mouthfeel is thick and viscous.

This is a beer with bold rich flavor. I love the intensity, and the alcohol warmth. One of my favorite RIS.

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

Poured a dark and thick black with a long lasting sticky dark brown head.

Has a strange nose with a big blast of oak and anise along with some burnt black malts.

Wow the flavor is super intense, big black burnt smokey malts mixing in with some alcohol sweetness and a big anise finish. Its almost like if you replaced the hops with black licorice. The belgian yeast comes through with a touch of spiceyness, but just barely, the smokey black and anise flavors are very dominant.

The mouthfeel is thick and chewy and has a surprising bit of hoppy resin stickiness as well.

I like it, it might be a bit extreme for some and isn't the balanced perfection of Stone's regular Imperial Stout, but fun none the less.

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

22 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a glossy black color with a thick, film-like dark tan head.

Smell: Definite licorice aroma right up front. And, I can't really smell anything else beneath it.

Taste: Very malty with anise/licorice, chocolate milk, and mildly bitter flavors. The various flavors seem to fluctuate with no real relation to start, finish, aftertaste, etc. in each sip. Each peaks at different times. Tasty, but lacks a bit of dimension.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and very smooth. Moderate carbonation, but not very powerful.

Drinkability: Strong ABV, but not apparent in the taste.

Not quite sure what is "Belgo" here. It is an enjoyable beer, but seems a bit monolithic. A fun drink, to be sure, but I'd probably just get their regular RIS instead next time. (And if you don't like licorice, you won't like this! It does - to me - taste a bit more of licorice than it does of pure anise.)

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Photo of infi
3.77/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, shared with BAs brun, glard and NYManc.

Poured into a Corsendonk tulip.

Typical stout appearance: midnight with dark brown edges, mocha-colored head of tight knit bubbles with good retention. On the nose is the immediate emergent spiciness of the anise, giving it a very aromatic smell of licorice. Underneath the anise is a very thin malt breadiness. Belgian yeast is barely recognizable – drowned out by the totality of the anise overall.

Taste is nice and bold due to the anise spiciness. Basically, like a melted black jelly bean added to each glass. But not overpowering like a Jägermeister, either. Not much of any Belgian qualities to be noted of as well. Considerably thin malt complex to back the beer and some bittersweet chocolate underlying the rest.

Medium-bodied stout with palpable carbonation qualities on tongue. I guess generally people don't like licorice due to the low grading, but I enjoyed this "odd" beer. Look forward to many others on the odd years.

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Photo of SFGuy187
2.46/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: Looks like a normal Stone RIS, but that's about all it has going for it.

S: Licorice orgasm. Yuck.

T: See above.

M: See above.

O: See above. Stone done messed it up with this licorice disaster. And since requires my review to be at least 250 character, I guess I'll further comment about how I hate this licorice bomb from hell.

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Photo of OldIronLungs
3.34/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter dark brown with a thing ring of off-white lacing.

Nose pulls a little roast and that anise/liquorish tone on top of alcohol. I like anise, so I don't think I'm put off the way most reviewers are.

Medium to full mouthfeel with light carbonation. Sweet roast is quickly swept away by the anise flavor, which develops into a slightly bitter finish. I really don't know what else there is in there. The ABV is well hidden and it warms interestingly - I wouldn't mind a taste after some cellar time and in a colder month, but I won't be buying another bottle - I like anise but this was too much, like drinking liquorish syrup - I got no hints of Belgian yeast notes, either. Their regular RIS is great, and I'm sure I'd enjoy a Belgian version just fine...It's an odd one, to be sure, but Stone makes no excuses about the big anise flavor, so I can't lay down too much hate.

The Jager comment the previous review is pretty accurate...I'd say a shot of Ouzo makes as much sense.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.06/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

On-tap at Provisions

A: The beer pours essentially black with a finger of off-white head.

S: Huge licorice aroma is there, but I expected as much. Lots of roasted malts as well. A little bit of vanilla and graham cracker sweetness, but they're shortly overwhelmed by the anise.

T: Like with the nose, big time roast and anise character. A mild vanilla note and some definite booze. Lightly bitter with a touch of molasses, dark chocolate, and coffee. The licorice flavor is just invasive.

M: Medium to full in body with a smooth, medium carbonation.

O: Just way too much anise flavor. Almost like drinking Jagermeister.

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Photo of JoeAmerican77
3.43/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Very near pitch black with a fat brown two inch head....

I smell Green tea, and mushrooms, hide cocoa beans in the back, also buried in the aroma of moist dirt

Sweet anise and alcohol burn meet the tongue, some dark malts arise to the occasion as well. The promised belgo yeast is there, yet arrives in such an insignificant number that it takes a huge backseat to everything else

Heavy bodied syrup, and warmth of booze make this a nice cold weather warmer, mild carbonation fits the style well

Overall I would change a few things here, jack up the belgo yeast, it is so scant yet half the reason I wanted to try this IRS, the other being that I love IRS's in general. Second this is very booze heavy. If the flavor profile could be emboldened, then I believe a balance one could find, and put this bad boy in a much higher grade.

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Photo of BigB415
3.48/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black into my Bruery snifter. Pitch black with tan head. Smells of licorice which is what you expect from an anise stout. When I sip licorice blasts my taste buds which I don't like too much, it's too overpowering. The regular RIS this year was perfectly balanced with chocolate and coffee but this BRIS is all licorice. It's a unique beer though because there aren't too many anise beers on the market. Actually you'd expect anise in a beer from a brewery like Dogfish Head and not Stone. My only disappointment from Stone and if I liked Anise I'd buy it again but I don't so I don't think I will anytime soon. If the Anise was a little toned down and more balanced with other flavors than this would be a great beer.

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Photo of foogerd
3.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pitch black with a tanned khaki head.

S- Strong anise aroma right upfront totally overpowers the brew, some notes of bitter dark chocolate and dark fruits.

T- Again anise is right there at the start then the brew starts to segue to present the result of its yeast which interplays with the anise in a way where it just doesnt meld together. Dark fruits such as cherries and berries just dont meld together with this strong black licorice taste.

M- Smooth with light carbonation.

O- Interesting, and a nice overall effort but dont come in here looking for balance.

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Photo of alli4051
3.16/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a nonic.

Pours just how I remember (from previous non-belgo anise versions at least), black and viscious with a solid tan head. On the first sniff it's obvious this isn't the typical Stone IRS; however, the base beer is still there with some roasty and coffee notes but the anise is heavy. Anise is again front and center in the first sip. At first the anise mingles rather well and creates this kind of not-entirely-unpleasant charred, charcoal kind of flavor, but it just kind of felt like the rest of the beer was there to compliment the anise. As it warmed the anise just became more and more overpowering. It's odd, this is the first beer I think I've had that seems to get more and more one dimensional as it warms. Mouthfeel was about the only thing that wasn't ruined by anise. The regular version is one of my favorite stouts of all time, this version just didn't do it for me. It goes without saying that Stone generally makes great beers, I guess they can't all be winners though. I do wonder if a bit of age would mellow the anise a bit and turn this into something really interesting.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.23/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Opaque black with a thick, dark clay head. Swirly skim retention and a few fish bone lace rings.

Aroma is stongly...something. Oak, roasted malt and coffee balanced by a dark chocolate anise sweetness.

Taste is similarly heavy with a juniper menthol...something. Roast malt to the point of char even mildly acrid at times. Dark chocolate sweetness for balance. Belgian yeast mellows what I feel would otherwise be a big bold beer.

It took awhile for for my girlfriend and I to figure out what the something was that really dominates the beer. Eureka, it's cigarette butts! Interesting beer, well done with lots of complexity otherwise.

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Photo of chugalug06
1.61/5  rDev -54%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

A - Below average head. Black body with no hues. not much to talk about with appearance. Very flat and boring.

S - Very licorice. BTW, i'm not a licorice fan... Chocolate behind the licorice.

T - Phew. Tastes like it smells. unique, but nowhere near awesome. Blah. I hate licorice paste.

M - Overly carbonated.. Medium bodied. Very bitter.

O - All over the board... Not my favorite. Glad I tried it, but won't be purchasing more. I'm almost done with Stone after this one... Drain pour.

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Photo of webmanspidey
2.76/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Bomber poured into a snifter. Pitch black with around half an inch of head. Smell is dark chocolate with some anise. Taste is bitter and biting: a mix of dark chocolate, anise, hops, and licorice. Pretty offbeat, but not terrible. The mix of flavors and strong booziness makes this slightly hard to drink.

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Photo of cbutova
3.16/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- Pitch black body with a mocha-tan head that builds to about a finger and retains decently. Falls to a nice ring and pillow leaving spotty lace, that somehow reminds me of Belgian beers.

S- The star anise brings a huge licorice presence to this beer, it comes off in fumes over a huge roast malt, cocoa and Belgian yeast influenced aroma. The resulting product is... eh, kind of jumbled.

T- Once again the licorice anise notes are huge as well as cocoa, coffee and dark roast burnt malt. Belgian yeast brings other spices and dark fruit to the table.

MF- Very warm on the palate and a some bitterness from the heavily roast malts. Thick overall creamy body with high carbonation.

Cold this beer really isn't very good, with some warming and a few more sips it gets better and the flavors somewhat meld. Even with the warmth I would still consider it a bit jumbled and out of balance. After many sips it really starts to drop off.

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Photo of ChaseT
1.85/5  rDev -47.1%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Bottle poured into a Spiegelau Stemmed Pilsner glass.

Appearance: Great. Almost black with a slight tinge of brown. Great mocha head that sticks around awhile and is easily restored with a few swirls.

Smell: Bad. Straight anise. Jagermeister has more complexity. This reminds me of a Southern Tier gimmick imperial stout.

Taste: Not much better than the smell. The base beer is so good and this is just not good at all.

Mouthfeel: I'd rate this higher, but it really is hard to appreciate the mouthfeel when it tastes so bad.

Overall: Really not good. Widmer's W'11 KGB Imperial Stout cost 1/3 as much and is way better. I can't believe that Stone was really going to brew this beer without the regular IRS version. That would have been a disaster. I foresee this version sitting on shelves for a long time to come.

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Photo of PeprSprYoFace
3.7/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my Stone IRS Snifter. Has a super black color. Thin tan head dissapated to a slight film and ring. Ok lacing.

Aroma is very black liquorish forward. Mostly just roasty after that.

Taste has a bit of caramel but not as much as the aroma would suggest. Seems like those Belgian yeast flavors and the strong roast are kinda clashing.

Mouthfeel is smooth with a bite in the finish. Good carb.

Overall I like regular IRS better. This is just OK.

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Photo of DirtyDangler
2.22/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Stone Imperial Russian Stout Belgo Anise or Belgo Anus as I like to call it is a very interesting attempt at a unique boutique beer. While the idea was perhaps a good idea on paper it has proven to be a rather interesting disappointing meld of a good idea with some half-baked innovation. While the IRS is an awesome beer, the Belgo Anus is reminiscent of cough syrup or Nyquil. If you have ever had the misfortune of being ill and subsequently taken a remedy such as cough syrup you will understand the flavor and aroma I am describing.
I am a big fan of stouts and appreciate the intricacies that compose their pronounced flavors. Stone makes a great Imperial Russian Stout as well as Smoked Porter. They clearly have a grasp of this style of beer yet, this batch seems to be a beer gone horribly wrong. Its a good thing they decided to not brew the entirety of the IRS batch with these ingredients and brewed some of the original.

A-Very dark as you would expect from a stout. Dark chocolate appearance with a rich dark head that dissipated quickly to a thin layer. Low carbonation.

S-My first reaction to aroma of the beer was an acrid scent that was reminiscent of cough syrup; very odd. I have never smelled a beer quite like this. side from the pronounced smell of anise, it also had faint aromas of chocolate and roasted malts but these were vastly overpowered by the poignant aromas presented by the anise.

T-To my surprise, the flavor of the beer is very mild in comparison to the smell of the beer. I prepared myself for an immensely overpowering flavor but was in fact taken off guard by the “relatively” mild flavor emitted by the anise. This is a relative statement as the anise still overpowers the other flavors almost to the point where you’re not sure if you’re still drinking IRS. Although the flavor is mild in comparison to the smell it still does not yield the most pleasant flavor. I was not sure what flavors my tongue was detecting but in my book when you're unsure of what you're tasting, its no bueno. I don't really know if I was able to detect the Belgian yeast or the aging of the oak chips. All I know is I was tasting anus. Excuse me, anise.

O-I won't call this beer a flop but I definitely won't call it a success. Perhaps a toned down version will prove to be good. 22oz is far too much bottle for this kind of beer. It was an innovative idea but it seems like the measurements may have been miscalculated somewhere on the way. I mean Stone made their claim to fame with Arrogant Bastard by messing up their measurements. Perhaps this is a victim of the same event but the outcome wasn’t quite as fantastic? Ok so I am either calling it Belgo Anus or Belgo Licoranus.

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Photo of DaveHS
3.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours shiny obsidian with 1/3 inch of mocha colored head. Moderate sticky lacing.

S-Heavy aromas of anise. A suggestion of oak, but nothing that draws attention to itself.

T/M-Based on my experience with the Belgo Old Guardian, I went in expecting the worst. But this isn't nearly as extreme.For one thing, the base beer is more or less intact. The same roasty, bitter chocolate maltiness and moderately hoppy finish. The anise doesn't add anything, but it also doesn't significantly detract. It's much more significant in the nose than the flavor profile. The oak chips barely come across. The inclusion of Belgian yeast isn't nearly as blustery or estery as in Old Guardian. It's well integrated. Full bodied with low carbonation.

O-Inferior to the original, but I'm glad to see them trying something different. Worth trying once, but I won't bother cellaring any.

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