Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian StoutBelgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by EgadBananas on 05-23-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 447 | Ratings: 939
Photo of JChristopher
3.31/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This is a highly unusual beer. It looks beautiful-- actually stunning-- in the glass. The smell is like the richest, darkest, and grittiest German rye bread you could imagine. Think incredibly dense. It sports a surprisingly nice head for a higher alcohol beer. It's color: a dark tan; wonderful. Now the taste right off of the bat was bizarre. It was very much like licorice with hints of vanilla and a strange smokiness. Honestly, it was off-putting at first. After letting it warm up a bit, I was surprised by the mellowing of the smokiness and the sweeter characters of the anise that had developed. the taste went from a B minus to a solid B plus, easily. Overall, it's a difficult rating, but if you're feeling adventurous-- eh, give it a try.

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

I had a tough time with this beer at first, and I'll be up front. My buddy Mano and I who split this beer with me do not like black liquorice. The first sample glass was hard to finish. I sat staring at the bottle for a few minutes with that taste on my tongue but after a bit it grew on me. I poured another sampler full and tried another taste. It went down a lot easier and I could taste a whole lot of complexity beyond the overwhelming black liquorice flavor. Mouthfeel was excellent for the class. We began to think of things we could marinate in this beer and agreed lamb would be perfect with a mess of garlic. It's a beer that needs a little time to appreciate and it hurts you a bit while your drinking it but I liked it overall once I got used to what it had to say.

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

A- Pours pitch black with with an off white head. The head quickly fades, leaving a tan collar.

S- Lots of licorice and Dark chocolate. As the beer warms up, the anise really comes to the forefront.

T- A wallop of licorice, chocolate, slight oak.The anise rises to the forefront on the finish. I'm surprised that I don't taste as much of the belgo yeast influence as I was expecting. Especially since it was so apparent in the Belgo Old Guardian (and not really in a good way).

M- Probably my favorite part of this beer. Nice, chewy, creamy, smooth. Wonderful.

O- A cool interpretation of an already solid beer. Stone IRS ages with the best of 'em, so I'm going to stash one away and revisit in a few years.

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Photo of SFGuy187
2.46/5  rDev -29.9%
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 Moon2Goddess
4.05/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Color: Pours like a rich chocolate syrup, I like it's golden brown tones rather than the straight black some stouts tend to have. I do wish it had a more impressive head; this one is low rising, slightly bubbly and only makes a cameo appearance in this show.

Aroma: Black licorice, milk chocolate, burnt coffee, toasted nuts, caramel, malt...a lovely array for the nostrils.

Texture: Incredibly milky, viscous, smooth and unbiting. The tiniest bit of carbonation tickles the edges of your tongue, it's a pleasure to savor and as it coats and glides down your throat.

Flavor & Balance: The initial swallow is spot-on black licorice, like that high quality licorice you can only get at candy stores, with brownish tones and soft chewability. I call this guy the traveling stout, because every swallow moves from one sensation to another. The chocolate is superbly blended and none of the flavors are overly sweet. As it warms, the flavor takes on a tiramisu quality-that is how coffee should be done boys! There is no bitterness at all, making it a very drinkable beer. The strangest apparition is the campfire-burnt marshmallow flavor that comes along later, you need to let this warm a good thirty minutes before you find it. I would recommend finishing your bottle before it gets too crazy, because a glass full of campfire can become unpleasant.

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Photo of kjlued
4.5/5  rDev +28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorites from one of my favorite breweries.
Never have had anything from Stone that I would consider bad and I loved their Regular Russian Imperial Stout so my excitement was high when I first found out they chose this for their odd year release.

Then when I found it it was with Anise, my excitement dropped as I am not a big fan of anise. That being said, knowing that I can trust Stone to put out something good every time, I tried it and was very happy.

Unfortunately my local shop only got 1 case (12 bottles) so when I went back I bout the rest at a total of 6 bottles.

Well, this weekend in travels, I was surprised to see the local shop had 11 bottles still and bout everyone.

To bad it will not be repeated. If you have a chance to pick up a bottle or two, it is a must. Very unique beer and a must try.

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Photo of GhettoFabulous
2.39/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I cracked open a bomber of this expecting a joyous evening of black licorice-infused imperial stout. I am an absolute fiend for black licorice, and am a huge fan of the Abyss and Uintas Labyrinth - two phenomenal RIS's that employ anise with great success. Basically, as a big fan of the regular Stone IRS and anise, I was excited as hell to try this beer.

After cracking the bottle and pouring it into my tulip, the utter blackness of the beer was striking - seemingly even darker than the regular version of the stout, which says something considering the vacuous darkness of the original. It really looks beautiful pouring into the glass, leaving a nice finger of brown foam and is looking like the perfect carbonation level for an imperial stout.

Taking a whiff of this sludge, there is a modicum of smokiness and oak, but black licorice absolutely inundates the olfactory center. At first I think this is a good thing, because I am an overzealous black licorice aficionado, but after taking my first sip, I have to reconsider. The anise is so strong in this beer that it dominates the chocolate, vanilla and wooden notes that you can suss out with your taste buds if you try really hard. The mouthfeel is also disappointing, in that the carbonation which looked good upon pouring has really dissipated and taken much of the life out of the beer.

The life that this beer does have is pure anise. This tastes like someone melted down a bucket of black licorice, mixed it with some alcohol and poured it in a glass. The heat is really strong and practically fuming with alcohol. Absinthe, though even hotter than this, seems a closer relative than the original Stone IRS.

Overall, very disappointed with this. The overwhelming anise flavor in this beer shows that you can indeed have too much of a good thing. At $5.50 this a nicely priced beer, but i can't help feeling stupid for having bought four bottles of it assuming it would be delicious. I struggled, but succeeded in finishing this bomber, and I have to recommend that you find at least a few others to split this with if you're inclined to try it - though it is more of a flavor oddity than a delicious beer actually worth your time. This is not a very successful beer and I have to wonder what it might have been like if Stone had cut the anise by say, 75%.

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

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

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

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

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Photo of 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 SchmittyRexus
3.96/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Black - almost like black licorice, appropriately. Tan head dissipates fairly rapidly.

Smell - Anise mixed with alcohol. A good hint that this isn't an ordinary IRS.

Taste - At first the anise is light next to the roastiness and chocolate, but it comes up big in the finish. Initially I was a little put off by the combination of flavors, but it grew on me pretty quickly.

Mouthfeel - Thick but not chewy. Pretty similar to Stone's regular IRS.

Overall - I really like anise, so I enjoyed this beer. If you're not a fan of that black jellybean flavor you probably will not like this.

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Photo of Snorlax
2.7/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Ehh.. let me start by saying I adore IRS's. They are my favorite kind of beer. This beer is excellent example of an IRS.. minus the anise. The anise, in my humble opinion makes this beer taste absolutely terrible. Don't get me wrong, you still get the nectar like, frothy delicious chocolate experience in the background, which is almost good enough to save this beer for me. But the anise simply overpowers it. Not to the point that you can't taste the beer itself, but to the point where the excellent stylings of the beer can not compensate for the anise. There is NO balance whatsoever to the flavor profile in my opinion. Theoretically the sweet/bitter flavor of the yeast should play off of and enhance the chocolate and coffee flavorings, but it does not. A change in proportions could make this a great, unique brew. As it stands it's just strange and unbalanced.

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Photo of SlyFox21
4.95/5  rDev +41%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked up a 22 oz from Riddle Road Market for 7.99, best selection for how small the store is. Worth seeking out, if you are in Cincinnati, and particularly if you are near the University of Cincinnati.

Poured into a Warsteiner Stein Glass

Appearance: Pours a jet black, with a little bit of head that lingers for a while. Lacing stays for several minutes.

Aroma:Very complex, can smell the roasted malts, coffee and cocoa, with a discernible sweetness lingering in there.

Taste: Starts off with a bittersweet taste of the belgian yeast, brown sugar, cocoa. Fairly light tasting for a stout, but still very complex. Finishes off with a long lingering coffee cocoa hops taste. Very delicious.

Mouthfeel: Fairly thick, but lighter than I was expecting. I would describe it as medium for a thick imperial stout standard. This is the only shortcoming to me for the beer. Still very satisfying.

Overall: A very good beer, probably one of my favorites to date. It has a worderfully bittersweet taste to it that lingers for a long time, very complex, good mouthfeel. I would expect this to be good, having come from Stone, my favorite brewery. Will look for this one in the future, and is definitely worth seeking out.

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Photo of buzbuzzer
3.95/5  rDev +12.5%
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 Ootppizza
3.63/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

i'm not a big fan of anise so i'm a little biased. over all a beer i could enjoy one of but thats it. I put it on tap at my pizza place and for the most part people enjoyed but it was a very limited crowed. The after taste is so strong that it kind of kills any beer you want to have afterward.

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Photo of SteveStein
4.4/5  rDev +25.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottom line - tastes like black licorice dissolved in a good milk stout. If you like black licorice and stout, you might like this beer a lot. I do.

22 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass. Inky dark, good head if you let it develop. Licorice dominates the aroma and the aftertaste, but taste is of a robust but not bitter stout. Roasted but not smoky, great full mouthfeel. Then after a while the licorice reasserts itself.

I normally don't like non-beer tastes in beer (fruits, bourbon, caramel, maple), but I find the anise to be an exception, at least for me.

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Photo of malvado78
3.82/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark opaque black. No light through this baby. Decent maybe 1/2 inch head quickly dissipates. No lacing. Not suprising at 10.5%.

S - Coffee, Hazelnut, Anise, not much else.

T - Little coffee in the front. Finishes with nice strong anise. And some bitterness. I like it.

M - Not too dry not too heavy. Doesnt feel like 10%. Tingled a little bit.

O - Overall pretty good. Not stellar but pretty good. Do not try if you do not like anise. I love anise (aisse not anus). I was easily able to finish the 22 oz myself.

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Photo of Dawgmeat
4.57/5  rDev +30.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great first taste of Anise in a brew for me. Very pleasant and so very tasty. Stone's flagship IRS that I tried for the first time almost a decade ago was a semi-nasty trip for me, but now I know and appreciate GREAT beer. Been a semi-rookie for some time now but this HOP head is coming around, FINALLY!!


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Photo of twelvelookslikex
4.26/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass. This is all I have

Looks black not much all I can say Its a IRS

The smell is very sweet burnt malts. Your can smell the Anise

I dont know why people are giving this beer such a bad rep. I mean If you dont like Anise your not going to like Licorice. And if you dont like Licorice than your going to think this beer tastes like ass! anyways...

The taste of Licorice comes on strong which I like. Fading away to a roasty coffee taste. Very thick! The Licorice gives of a strong burnt wood sweetness.

Pretty smooth mouthfeel

I would love to age this beer for a long time to see what it produces!

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Photo of ctbrow1
4.88/5  rDev +39%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer has become my new fave. It just seems to take over your mouth. Hitting all of the taste buds. Yummy yummy in my tummy. The only negative appears that supplies are limited. Andiamo in Eagan has this available for the average joe sitting at the bar.

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Photo of AbsolutFrank
4.53/5  rDev +29.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a Delirium Tremens snifter/tulip.

Appears black as used motor oil, with a half fingernail of milk chocolate covered head that quickly dissipates after a few tastes.

It smells first of charred oak, quickly followed by liquorice and espresso, faint bittersweet chocolate and faint dark red wine in the background.

Such a unique delicious complex taste. First note hitting is strong molasses and Shiraz wine, then burnt oak, then even notes of dry dark chocolate, black liquorice and espresso. The lingering finish/aftertaste is of dry dark chocolate and shiraz wine.

Mouth feel is where the Belgian yeast is present. It coats the tongue like a Belgian tripple or quad, with the same alcohol burn without strong alcohol flavor. Yet, very smooth coating and warming as you'd expect from a Baltic style stout or porter. I think you feel the sting of hops rather than taste it in the dry finish.

Overall this is one of my favorite beers on planet Earth. There is really nothing like quite like it. The only thing I've had approaching this complexity is Moa's Imperial Stout, but I find this to be much, much better. Perhaps if you can envision and amalgam of Stone regular RIS, North Coast's Old Rasputin, and a strong Liquorice and Shiraz wine presence with some Belgian mouth feel in addition to what you expect from a Baltic beer mouth feel, you have an idea. I'll probably cry if they never make this again. After my first taste I bought a total of five bottles, I write this while drinking my second to last.

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Photo of DirtyDangler
2.22/5  rDev -36.8%
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 BFGiant
3.3/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is a confusing beer.

That being said, the very first thing to expect is a sweet anise/black licorice smell. The taste is sweet with an overpowering taste of anise. If you like black licorice, this is for you.

It's a very drinkable and enjoyable (in small portions) beer but still leaves you asking the question, "what the hell did I just drink?"

To conclude, it's a lot of anise! There is nothing subtle about it.

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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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