Not to go too far off topic, but here's a specific dosing recommendation I've found for whole licorice root (from http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21674
Current evidence indicates that individuals who wish to take whole licorice on a long-term basis without any risk of these side effects should not consume more than 0.2 mg of glycyrrhizin per kilogram of body weight daily. 20 For a person who weighs 130 pounds, this works out to 12 mg of glycyrrhizin daily. Based on a typical 4% glycyrrhizin content, this is the equivalent of 0.3 grams of licorice root.
For a spicing rate one 1 ounce of licorice root per 5 gallons of beer (recommendated use based on http://morebeer.com/products/licorice-root-2-oz.html
), that amounts to 7 ounces per day of the finished beer. Double that if you only use 1/2 ounce per gallon. Keep in mind that this is the recommended max for long-term use. For short-term use, doses could be as high as 15 grams.
As a pharmacist, when I see this data I'd have no problems having a pint or two of a beer made with licorice root. Knowing my own drinking habits, I wouldn't even have a problem using it as an ingredient in something like an RIS that I would only have every so often. I don't think I'd want to put it in my session porter that I drink a few pints of at a time, though.
And as far as flavor goes, it's definitely not the same thing as star anise. Don't let the "licorice" name confuse things. It doesn't really taste like black licorice.