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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.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 446 | Ratings: 939
Photo of TBoneJones
4.24/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Stone Belgo Anise RIS 2011
Slick black pour, rich cappuccino head of two finger widths. Body near solid black. Now when I hold my pint to some light i see on the edge of the inside of the glass some tan floating objects, and even more sitting on the bottom as I lift up the glass and look underneath, these objects look like large sawdust chunks. Interesting. No cork involved here. Part of Stone's craft I suppose.
Smells nice with slight anise and powdery milk chocolate. Muted scent, but nice what's there.
This tastes a little nicer than I remember the first and only other time I tried it, and it just must be the age i put on this one (2 yrs.). Milk chocolate smoothness, and the anise seems more tame and lends a creamy note somehow, with the anise more resembling now a syrupy bite reminding me of Bosco syrup as if I'm tasting it in an egg cream. I didnt expect to like it this much now, given my prior mediocre thoughts on the initial taste of once having it fresh years past. As it warms i pick up more licorice, and I'm one who does like licorice. Maybe that factor is the dividing line between promoters & detractors of Stone's BARIS, who knows. More warming and here comes the Sambuca sensation, but althewhile this feels creamy and smooth. There is a lingering burning sensation in my mouth after the taste, somewhat odd and numbing, but I'll chalk it up to the anise. I'm sure not for everyone, but yes for me and only with some age.

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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 brotherloco
4.23/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber. 2011 "Odd Year" Release.

Pours pitch black with a 2 finger light mocha head. Settles slowly. Some broad lacing.

Black licorice is the first thing to hit you in the aroma, a little overwhelming. Big maltiness is right behind it. Some vanilla, some spiciness from the yeast, but it's subtle. Booziness in the finish. A notch below 'good' for me.

Again the anise notes are strong and dominate the initial flavor, but the big sweet chocolate and bitter roasted coffee malt comes right in and supports it. Not getting a ton of the oak chip contribution, but there is some vanilla and earthiness that might be coming from them. I also can't really pick out what the Belgian yeast is contributing besides the same spiciness from the aroma. It's a big bold flavor though, so there is a lot of competition. Finish is pleasantly bitter and boozy, although alcohol is better hidden than regular version. Tastes way better than I was expecting from the aroma.

Medium-full to full bodied and nicely carbonated. Feels just right to me.

I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but since I'm not completely in love with the regular Stone RIS, I like this exotic version even better.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.23/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


Pours jet black and completely opaque. The head is about an inch and a deep nut brown. It dissipates down to a lacing.

Smells of rich caramel, roasted coffee, dark chocolate and a bit of smoke.

Tastes richly of caramel and chocolate, with a mild hint of coffee and alcohol, followed by toasted oak flavors. The anise is undetectable to me at first, but comes through more as the beer starts to warm.

Feels full and viscous with a mild tingle of carbonation over the roof of the mouth. Warms a bit going down.

Delicious and decadent, everything an imperial stout should be. However, the richness is almost cloying and makes this hard to finish. Best shared between two or consumed very slowly while pondering life's mysteries.

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Photo of morningthief
4.23/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip.

Pours black with a half finger tan head, as to be expected. Nothing groundbreaking here, but some nice lacing appears after several sips.

A deep whiff imparts dark malt, coffee, chocolate, but suspiciously lacks anise. Looking forward to the surprise in the taste.

Ah yes, there it is. I'm disappointed by other reviewers' reports of overt anise flavor in this brew, as I feel it blends quite nicely. Sweet dark malt, chocolate and a decent amount of licorice round out the flavor. Absent is any hint of Belgian yeast. Did I miss something?

Nothing to balk at here, this is the Stone RIS that you know and love with a good, spicy kick to it. This beer won't break the bank, so definitely worth checking out.

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Photo of Dhren1979
4.23/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vuntage: 2011

Serving Type: 22 oz Bomber poured into a Tulip glass,

A: Pours a very dark brown, aklmost black but for hints of a reddish hue. The head is tough and doesn't want to leave as expected. Color is caramel. Lacing is tight.

S: Sugary malts but it is quickly overpowered by the roasted aroma of licorice.

T: A roasted licorice (anise) flavor which plays very well with the roasted coffee malts that are present.

M: Thisk as oil! Ok, not really but you get the picture.,,Carbonation is minimal which is expected with a RIS.

O: I like this stout a lot!! It's different from the other RIS that I have had and I like that creativity. I also love the taste of anise in the notes so this added a big plus for me. I know many people don't like real licorice taste so this may not be for everyone.

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Photo of Billolick
4.22/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Stone bomber, 2011 "odd year" offering. Typical IRS presentation, thick mocha head stays for a good long while. Tiny bubble sheen, scattered lacing.

Complex nose, chocolate, smokey burnt malts, licorish, dark fruits.

Flavorful, complex, well crafted, alot going on here. Follows the theme started by the nose, more smoke, chocolate, licorish, figs, a late minty note, dry and clean in the finish. Delicious stout, Belgian twist adds to the complexity and interest. Smooth and tasty on the tongue. Go get some of this interesting brew, would love to try it with a charred steak or with a fruity chocolate dessert....c'mon people..the numbers for the reviews of this one are way out of whack

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Photo of WMEugene
4.21/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip glass...

A - Pours a dark black color with a significant dark tan head. Fairly good lacing on the glass.

S - Strong smells of anise and licorice. A little bit of malt smell as well, but the anise dominates.

T - Anise is unsurprisingly the dominant flavor. Tastes of licorice, malt, and spice as well. A bit of alcohol heat in the foreground as well. Delicious (if you like anise, at least).

M - Relatively full bodied with a noticeable aftertaste of alcohol heat and anise. Nice level of carbonation. Not dry at all either.

O - For what it is, the Belgo Anise is an interesting and worthwhile RIS. One's enjoyment will really boil down to your tolerance level of anise - if you like or at least don't mind the taste of anise, you'll like this beer. If you don't like anise, stay away. Personally, I kind of like anise so I really enjoyed Stone's unique Belgo Anise RIS. It's definitely not for everyone, but it is a unique and well-done beer.

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

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

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Photo of jhartley
4.2/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pulled this out of the cellar, around 2 years old, 2011 "Odd Year Release". Poured from a 22 oz bomber to a snifter.
Poured a dark charcoal black color with a frothy tan 1 finger head, which dissipated rather quickly. No light shining through this one at all! Of course another great silk screen printed bottle from Stone.
Huge aroma's of Anise and Oak!! No doubt about it, the bottle doesn't lie. Not picking up on too much of a funky smell from the Belgian yeast that was used. A nice roastiness is present as well.
Tastes...Well no doubt on this one either! Tastes just the way it smells! Anise, oak, roasted malts. Sweet but tart currant/cherry flavor. Anise and oak DOM-I-NATE! Definitely not what you would expect in a IRS, but Stone really pushed the envelope on this one.
After 2 years in the cellar the alcohol doesn't play a huge role in this, comes out a bit at the end with a little back-of-the-throat burn. A good amount of carbonation which helps on this with the somewhat sweetness on this.
Overall Just a beautiful looking beer and I enjoyed it a lot, which is surprising since I am not a huge anise fan in general, but in stouts I think it adds a little something extra to the flavor profile. Not something I would actively seek out again, but very enjoyable.

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

Nearly black with a big foamy brown head with great retention. Big anise and Belgian sugar aroma with notes of chocolate. Strong anise up front with chocolate and an oak dry end. Although the anise stays powerful throughout the roasted malts comes bleeding through. Full mouthfeel with lightly frothy silk.

Tasted against the regular RIS, this is much more complex and enjoyable however if you don’t like anise it may be a bit strong. I think I may buy another to cellar awhile to mellow the anise a bit for a more balanced and drinkable beer. Overall, I do like the flavor here it’s just as it is I think some is getting lost in the powerful flavors.

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Photo of facundoCNB
4.2/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

a thick syrupy black pour with a finger of tan head which dissipated slightly on the quick side. smells of licorice, chocolate, dark roasted grains, toffee. WOAH this is a funky stout! band aids and licorice up front.. looks like that belgian yeast is a force to be reckoned with giving off lots of smoky bandage like notes. very sweet malty backbone, and some chocolate and coffee notes.. but mostly smoky and licorice. full body, low carbonation.. very sticky on the lips.

this is WAY different than i was expecting. solid RIS as usual from stone.. with a weird funk to it from the belgian yeast strain which makes it seem very smoky. the licorice flavor and smell is excellently strong on this one.

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

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours black with a medium off-white head, good retention and lace.

S: Black licorice and anise city. This is the defining smell, with a light amount of dark chocolate.

T: Very good mix of heavy cacao count chocolate and the prerequisite anise character. A very good mix that works well. The complexity allows this version of the Stone IRS to be much more appealing young than the regular. I'm really enjoying the Stone Belgian creations.

M: Full-bodied, very smooth, soft carbonation.

O: This is a very good imperial stout. I'm very partial to anise, and maybe that's why I like it so much, nevertheless, this is something to try for sure even with my bias.

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Photo of scootny
4.18/5  rDev +19.1%
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 lordofthewiens
4.17/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In a tulip glass this beer was black in color with a small orange/tan head that dissipated quickly.

Coffee/roasted malt aroma. Definitely anise. Some dark fruit. And alcohol, don't forget that.

Lots going on in the taste. Coffee and a bit of chocolate. Raisins. Anise, which really lingered. Boozy.

A heavy hitter. Boozy, but in a good way. The alcohol added to, rather than subtracted from,the taste.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.17/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I avoided this one for a while but tried it at a beer festival and liked it. When I saw it for $6.99 at a local Giant Eagle I grabbed a bottle.

A - Pitch black of course with tons of carbonation bubbles and an inch of dark mocha head. Lacing is somewhat sticky.

S - Smells of the traditional of the style with a bit of fruity hints from the yeast. Nice roast and chocolate with a mild hop presence.

T - Taste starts off kind of bitter with the hops then quickly the roast hits with a nice coffee taste. Second sip delivers more of the Belgium yeast with a bit of fruity sweetness. Overall the finish is creamy with hints of hops and roast but only mild and balanced.

M - This is drinking pretty great, almost as good as the original. A medium to heavy body but not cloying.

Overall I like this version but will always prefer the regular version for the style since they are the same price.
As a hater of black licorice and Ouzo (anise liquor) I found that those flavors in this stout are now very balanced.

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Photo of YouSkeete
4.17/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Almost pitch black, dark brown around the edges of the glass. semi-bubbly dark tan head, fades into little lacing.

S: Big anise aroma right off the bat. Hints of licorice, chocolate, molasses, and heavy cream follow.

T/M: Not far from the nose on this one. Sweet anise and licorice with smooth milk chocolate, cream, molasses flavors. Well balanced, relatively simple versus a complex flavor. 10.5% ABV is dominant but not overpowering. Medium to full body with some moderate carbonation. Sweet and creamy overall body.

D: I'm really digging this brew. New and interesting flavor in a stout. I like the other russian imperials a little better than this one, but a great brew nonetheless.

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Photo of blackie
4.16/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bomber from whole foods

a: served in a sweet unibroue tulip, the pour creates a thin topping of mocha colored head, falling back to leave a placid surface, the beer itself a deep black in color with some browns peeking through the edges

s: a steady current of star anise weaves licorice aromas through a body of deep roasted barley and dark chocolate, impressions of root beer and sassafras root, toffee and vanilla, molasses, some oaky spice, fresh genuine licorice - prominent but not overpowering the base beer but rather adding a nice compliment

m: carbonation on the lower end of the moderate range, gentle on the tongue, with a full bodied mouthfeel

t: the palate brings a pungent star anise flavor over roasted barley, dark chocolate, and burnt sugars, additional flavors of molasses, vanilla, spicy roots - sassafras, and sweet alcohol, hops impart a moderate bitterness to to the finish, the blend of flavors works out well - I can dig what the anise brings to an ris

o: obviously not for everybody - but I dig it, the anise blends well with the ris base and the oak adds a spicy vanilla complexity, not unlike a number of dark european anise liqueurs, a big beer with an interesting complex of characters

consumed on a snowy january eve

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Photo of nubz77
4.16/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark as night color with an insane head, the first time I poured it the head took up almost half the glass and stuck around for awhile.

S - A bit of a burnt scent, the hops are well hidden but are still lurking in there.

T - Has a very excellent chocolate bite like a rich dark chocolate, one of the strongest I've tasted in a beer lately.

M - Slightly thick, goes down nicely.

O - Stone never fails to disappoint; it's not their best brew but it's still top notch.

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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 obrendano
4.15/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

tried this on a whim. not too shabby!

A - thick and black pouring, very very dark in the glass with slight hints of ruby. tan head fizzles and dies very quickly

S - spicy anise and toasted fennel seed, chocolate stout backbone

T - sweet licorice anise taste, but a very natural one, not like processed licorice flavor. big chocolate malt flavor as well, with bitter coffee edges, especially in the finish. almost none of the alcohol taste.

M - a little heavy handed in its sweet, heavy body, but I'm sure if it was different the taste would suffer, so I can live with it

D - I was unsure if all these off the wall and seemingly unmatched tastes could blend well, but I was definitely pleasantly surprised by it. would try again. by the by, this is not one to refrigerate for very long. maybe a hint above room temp at most.

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Photo of exodus1369
4.13/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

What a great beer! Looks like a great Stout Dark and rich. The small is a bit on the light side had to really get my nose in to it to pick up any thing and it had a very light head. But once it ran past the taste buds it really made up for it. All I could think was just rich caramel taste. Wonderful and a very smooth taste!

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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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