Brew Review

Beer Review – Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

Around 11PM on the night we returned from our vacation, Limpd stopped by with a bottle of beer that I just had to try…

While browsing the aisles of a new Center City Philadelphia beer store (can’t recall the name), he stumbled upon this beer with the long and complicated name (I dare you to say Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout three times fast!) that he recalls me mentioning a week or two prior to his mini shopping spree. Since I’m a big fan of anise and licorice, the name of this beer had me totally intrigued! Here’s what Stone Brewing Company has to say about their Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout:

This 2011 Odd Year release pours pitch black with a deep tan head, with aromatic notes of anise, coffee, and cocoa jumping from the glass. Coffee and dark roasted malt flavors dominate, with a robust complement of anise and oak, which leave a lingering blend of vanilla, licorice, and dark malt on the palate.

Let’s see how my notes compare…

  • Appearance: Pitch black color. Thick, creamy one inch head. Mild lacing.
  • Aroma: Heavy anise aroma that reminds of homemade Anisette Biscotti (my mom’s of course). Bittersweet chocolate. Dark roast coffee.
  • Taste: Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Slightly sweet in the beginning. Moderate bitterness builds towards the middle and leads to a mild, bitter, espresso like finish.
  • ABV: 10.5%

I’m not sure if this is the right word, but I have found that anise and licorice are polarizing flavors to most people. You either love it or hate it, and there is rarely any middle ground. During a recent Sudsy Sunday drinking session at The Pourhouse in Westmont, NJ, I had a brief discussion about this beer with The Wookie, The Alemonger, and our bartender Marci. Marci absolutely hated this beer and couldn’t get past the anise flavors of this Stone beer, while I found it to be very enjoyable and worthy of a second tasting. This is yet another beer that does a fantastic job of hiding it’s high alcohol content, i.e. it’s never overwhelming. A beer this dark and powerful is made for the fast approaching cooler months. I will definitely be picking up another bottle of Stone’s Belgo Anise to enjoy on a crisp, fall night.

9 replies »

  1. I remember that chat but not the part about anise and licorice being Polish. If the beer was brewed with perogies I’d agree it might be Polish but not becuase its brewed with Anise. I doubt Stone would brew a perogie beer anyway, that’s something I’d only expect from Sam Calgione and Dogfish Head.

    As for the beer itself, I haven’t tried it yet and I see many reviews are, as you point out, all over the place. I’d prefer a crisp evening to sit down with this one – just can’t get into an Imperial Stout when it’s still 80+ and humid. Then again, I have been “researching” a steady stream of pumpkin brews these last few days.

    I’ll chime back in after I give this one a try but until then I’ll attempt not to picture perogies in my beer. They would take hazy and floaties to a whole new level.



    • I said polarizing, not Polish or even pierogies. Perhaps you should get a new eyeglass prescription. I’m sure they’ll let you recycle those Falling Down frames.


    • I see it around here quite a bit. No biggie… you’re in West Coast beer central. Plenty of interesting stuff out there for you to try. Happy Beer Hunting!


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