Fantomasus (291) - Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - NOV 4, 2011
3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
Pours a deep dark roasted coffee with a tightly packed (but creamy) tan head. Smells of licorice, maple, oak, and coffee. Initial burst of licorice like candy sweetness gives way to coffee bitterness on the sides of the tongue. Itís a really interesting (but balanced) flavor that I would love to rate higher... but black licorice over powers and Iím not a big fan. Palate is surprisingly clean and highly drinkable. Worth trying at least once but I prefer other Stone Brews for regular consumption.
cryptobard (281) - DENMARK - JUL 31, 2011
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
UPDATED: NOV 29, 2011 What can I say? I find the complex of flavors here (strong anise, of course) perfect for a desert beverage. Certainly one of the most uniquely flavored beers Iíve had. I was not sure I even liked it until a second bottle.
As is usual with Stone, appearance is beautiful.
iugrad93 (265) - Indiana, USA - DEC 25, 2011
3.5 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
Pours a black color, tan head, lacing everywhere. Aromas of black licorice and caramel malts. Taste is sweet and the anise is very prominent, more than I like, and dominates the taste. Palate is full bodied, thick, sticky, and flat carbonation. Overall, the beer is just too much anise for me. I like the beer, but just a tad bit less anise would make it better.
TampaBeer (257) - Tampa, Florida, USA - MAR 20, 2012
3.7 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
Gorgeous midnight purple color. Very sweet as well as some sourness. Reminded me a little bit of a sour ale which I do not care for. The density of flavors combined with an intense sweetness and a strong sour element becomes, to my surprise, a slightly negative aspect. "Gaudy" is a word I would use for this one. My favorite beers are ones with the most intense flavors, however this is kind of a "hot mess" which keeps it from living up to my high expectations.
mcnealc31 (255) - Elida, Ohio, USA - JUL 3, 2011
4.5 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Big, bold, black, and very aggressive. Youíll need a few pours to fit all this in one glass. The smell is nearly all anise, with some wood. Itís quite creamy with a lot of that black licorice flavor, dry wood, roasted malt, spicy hops. Outstanding lacing lures you in to try to find more flavors, the ones more common in a Russian Imperial Stout. If you hunt, you will pick up some of the currants, chocolate, coffee, but the anise is the real star here. I could see where some say itís overpowering, but I love the flavor, so itís working for me. The 10.5% ABV warms through the finish, along with a fun bitter bite.
Another unique, tasty brew from Stone. But you have to love anise to love this. If you donít, you will hate it.
MarinaMarket (254) - POULSBO, Washington, USA - SEP 17, 2011
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Aroma from the neck is black licorice, molasses, and smoke. I am intrigued! Pours black and with a little coaxing manages a nice thick tan head. Aroma is about the same but a little more subtle and complex. I get faint notes of wood, vanilla, and can I say is smells salty? Very nice sticky laces and a slowly receding head. Very nice flavor, if not a bit "ODD". Strong flavor of salt licorice, and some subtle hints of wood, hops, bittering on the finish. It really sticks around for a bit too. Mouthfeel is medium bodied (for this style) and I get some citrus notes as well. Also important to note that the 10.5% ABV is well masked. While itís a strong flavored brew, it does not have the alcohol notes I would expect of a higher gravity beer. Very interesting version of the Stone IRS. Anyone who likes salt licorice would love this beer. Tasted from the bottle @ 53F.
dfhhead25 (251) - Pennsylvania, USA - SEP 10, 2011
3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
Aroma- black licorice, oak, herbs, dark fruits
Appearance- thick, black body with a khaki-colored head
Taste- black licorice prominent, woodiness, bready malts, light hops, relatively complex, slightly disjointed
Palate- surprisingly thicker than regular RIS, feels just about right
Overall- A decent novelty brew IMO, but certainly not sessionable. On par with DFH Black and Red but not near as memorable.
bittermestupid (247) - Canton, Ohio, USA - JUL 2, 2011
3.8 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Pours black as ink with a nice 1/2" thick tan head. Smells of expresso, chocolate, licorice, leather and a slight dried dark fruit note. Taste of dark roasted coffee, licorice, chocolate, vanilla and a touch of tabacco and belgian spices. Rather thick on the palate and it finishs with a long roasted coffee bitterness and some strong licorice notes.
dukeredhair (243) - California, USA - OCT 2, 2011
1.9 AROMA 3/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 2/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 4/20
Good lord this is a mess. The aroma is way too sweet for a RIS. The anise comes through and makes everything so sweet all that good roast and bitterness you want in a RIS is gone. Itís all anise and sweet malt. Appearance is nice b/c it is black w/ tan head. At least they got that part right. Taste is so cloyingly sweet I kinda donít want to drink anymore. Palate is thick and chewy but since itís so sweet it seems syrupy and nasty. Overall this is terrible it might have been a fun idea but the yeast and the roast and the bitterness and all of the things that I love about a stout are ruined here. AWFUL.
Hoptagon (239) - Arlington, Virginia, USA - JUN 24, 2011
3.4 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
22oz. Bomber. Definitely has the right look with a deep black body and strong collar of froth that laces nicely. The aromatic quality of the beer is intense, but I think they may have overshot the mark with the anise/licorice character. It pretty much overwhelms the nose. If you can get past the root beer aromas there is a little bit of oak and maybe some bitter chocolate. Tastes like an oak bomb with notes of black licorice, charcoal, peppers and dark chocolate. The mouthfeel is creamy and the body has a silky quality to it. The Belgian yeast seems to be kept in the background and might contribute some sweetness, but its definitely of limited impact. Alcohol is well hidden but the back half of the beer fades to a weird combination that feels like ashy root beer. The finish is harshly dry like an eighty year old womanís bat cave. Will be sticking with the original RIS from now on.