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Vortex II - Pisgah Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Vortex IIVortex II

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

251 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 251
Reviews: 145
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 12.9%
Wants: 131
Gots: 32 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Pisgah Brewing Co. visit their website
North Carolina, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  11.70% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: mikesgroove on 06-25-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 251 | Reviews: 145 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Swimsum:
Photo of Swimsum
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this in a trade with blkflg. Thanks again Ian. There is what appears to be a date about the barcode that stated 1/09 so if that is a date then this is two years old. Poured into Bruery tulip.

Pours out a nice black and settles midnight black into the glass. No light is getting through the body of this one. A dark tan head emerges from the liquid that is about half an inch high. It quickly recedes to a very thing ring around the glass. No lacing is produced on the glass as this one goes down.

This is a sweet one. Dark fruits explode out of the glass and followed up by some chocolate. Very sugary sweet smelling. Probably the sweetest smelling RIS I've ever smelled.

This is really fruity tasting. Perhaps it's plums or prunes. Really dominates the initial taste. Some roast starts to make its way though the fruits as it starts to warm up. Alcohol is well hidden on this one. I'm wondering how complex this one was when it was fresh or even with less age on it. The dark fruits really dominate now.

Very smooth with some noticeable carbonation. It doesn't coat the mouth as much as some other RIS's I've had but it has a very nice feel in the mouth. I would score this higher with a thicker feel.

This was a great tasting and drinking beer. Goes down really easy and I can't believe this is 11.7% because it doesn't taste like it at all. I would love to try this fresh to see how it compares to the aged version. I would seek this out again for sure.

Swimsum, Feb 04, 2011
More User Reviews:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer review from BA Mag Sep 2007.

Nice, an organic Imperial Stout. Not that we are in a frenzy to buy only organic products, but the option is good to have. This is Pisgah's strongest beer to date.
The carbonation flows slowly to the top of the glass, forming two fingers of tan head. Pitch black in color. Big roasty aroma of char, dark-chocolate-covered currants and a hint of malted milk balls. The mouthfeel is damn thick and creamy--superb.

The rolling smoothness from its deep crisp carbonation is unlike any beer we've ever had. More than enough maltiness to go around, sweetness reaches pretty high but is kept in check by the roasted character and a deeply-embedded hop bitterness. Fruity middle-to-end with notes of currants and black berries. Molasses peeks in for a bit. Alcohol is very deceiving for its ABV and starts to warm the palate only after several sips. Suggestions of Black Forest cake, sweetened iced coffee and chocolate push the envelope a little more. Finishes a little sweet with a balanced roasted flavor.

Hard to believe that beers like this were not allowed in North Carolina a few years ago. Seek this beer out and give it a try, cellar a few while you're at it.

BeerAdvocate, Jul 07, 2010
Photo of mverity
3.66/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown, almost black; opaque at the center but transparent at the edges. Aroma is chocolatey and medium/deep malt. Touch of toffee as well. Taste is very chocolatey, nice bitter chocolate. Sweet malt towards the middle. Body is a bit thin for a stout, but carbonation is spot on.

mverity, Feb 05, 2014
Photo of Mantooth
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%

Mantooth, Aug 18, 2014
Photo of Cynic-ale
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Cynic-ale, Aug 13, 2013
Photo of mondegreen
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap a the Pisgah brewery. 2009 vintage, the bartender says it's the last keg they'll tap of the 2009 until February 2011.

Poured into a Pisgah pint glass, a little on the cold side... Letting it warm...

Pitch black with nearly no head to speak of. No lacing either.

Smells of dark licorice, sweet chocolate, and hints of alcohol.

Taste is very smooth. Bitter chocolate and dark fruits collide with the subtle alcohol bite from the 11%+. Not nearly as over the top as some impy stouts. Dare I say balanced? I like it.

Mouthfeel is the big strong point here. Well carbonated and silky smooth. Like liquid velvet.

It's nearly 100 degrees, I am sweating, and I would gladly drink these all night. A good sign for sure...

mondegreen, Jul 07, 2010
Photo of chinchill
3.89/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A full pint served at the brewery.

Pours nearly black with a dark tan head.
Sweet aroma with only a hint of alcohol; the high ABV is also very well hidden in the flavor. Some dark fruit in the taste; more in the nose. Plenty of dark roasted malt but only mid-taste on. Good sweet-bitter balance.

M: medium-full body with medium, low carbonation.

O: recommended

(Revised and adjusted with tasting at brewery in June 2013)

chinchill, Sep 30, 2012
Photo of rudylaw
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to TimmyP for providing this! Sampled seventh in a ten stout tasting. This also placed seventh.

Pours a deep brownish color with a small head.

We're getting a lot of roasted malt up front. Chocolate with dark fruits and hints of mocha.

Really rich chocolate and some pretty overwhemling brown sugar! This is a very unique tasting RIS. It's medium-bodied and very smooth. I liked this beer... didn't love it but still appreciate the interesting take on the style.

rudylaw, Sep 27, 2009
Photo of HopAttack3
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%

HopAttack3, Yesterday at 02:12 AM
Photo of glid02
4.83/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had on-tap at the brewery, this beer is about 4-5 months old at this point.

Pours black with a brown head that recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving thick lacing.

Smells of chocolate covered cherries with good amounts of dark fruits - figs and plums, with roasted malt aromas lurking in the background.

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Dark chocolate and a myriad of fruit flavors up front are backed up by thick roasted malt flavors. The fruit flavors are very well integrated and done such that the roasted malt and chocolate flavors still serve as a robust backbone.

Mouthfeel is very good. It has a great thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is great. I could drink this all day, regardless of whether or not that's a good idea.

Overall I enjoyed this much more the second time around. The flavors are better melded and more developed and the alcohol is barely noticeable. Definitely worth a shot.

glid02, Aug 11, 2009
Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

acurtis, Oct 28, 2012
Photo of IntriqKen
4.72/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is an amazing RIS.
Poured black as used motor oil with that dark amber glow that used motor oil will have. Very, very thin head that disappears very quickly.

Aromas of dark roasted malt, dark bakers chocolate, dark vinous fruits with maybe some dark cherries. Alcohol isn't noticeable in the nose.

Flavor is intensely RIS. Dark sweetly roasted malts, deep, rich, Belgium chocolates, again, vinous fruits, black cherry and then finishing to black liquorice.

Aftertaste of liquorice and unsweetened chocolate with a definite chocolate warming as you swallow.

Absolutely delicious.

IntriqKen, Nov 12, 2007
Photo of whitekiboko
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

whitekiboko, Dec 27, 2011
Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to an amazingly generous dmeadows for this one.

Pours a deep jet black, impenetrable to light. A nice fizzy head forms, but reduces to about two fingers and turns into ice cream. Lacing is pretty good.

Nose is promising during the pre-game. Full of dark roasted malt, some slight coffee. Some defenite chocolate and a little dose of dark fruits. Roasted malt and chocolate are dominant though, and give hope to the fans.

Whoa! Pisgah has won another game. Huge roasted malt profile dominates right off the bat. A slight smidge of dark fruit hints just afterwards, but roasted malt quickly grabs possession of the ball again. Chocolate then throws the alley oop as the roasted malt dunks in your eye towards the finish. A little bit of alcohol drains a couple from the free throw line on right before the buzzer. A tiny bit of overcarbonation fouls on the reach but is nowhere near as bad as the abrasive carbonation they had in the Valdez game. Alcohol and roasted malt are carried of the court by chocolate during the aftertaste.

The game leaves pisgah fans with a viscous mouthfeel of victory. Very slight overcarbonation again, but he is lost as the fans rush the court. A bit of dryness on the finish.

This game goes down very nicely, as it should have for Vortex. 11.7% was the spread, but it was more like 8% by the time the game was over. Couldn't beleive it.

Overall, one of the better games of the year. Much better than the valdez game, but hopefully the second bottling will bring valdez up to the heels of vortex II. A very drinkable beer of this magnitude, and beautiful balance of chocolate and roasted malt flavors combine for a sick triple double, and leave the fans wanting more and more and more. You will want a replay of this one. Great Beer.

AKBelgianBeast, Mar 13, 2009
Photo of Sammy
3.73/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Fresh from Bruisin' Ales. Pours black and some white head. Aroma is pleasant roasty and malty. Taste is very sugary, this is like a milk stout, a sweet stout only somewhat better. I managed to drink the bomber, it is drinkable and pleasant enough. Some chocolate and one sip seemed coffee. This is sugar cup of coffee, and how many cups can I drink? Sorry Ashville, I have had thicker mouthfeel, creamier, more chocolate,less sweet to go gah gah on this local.Dramatically overrated.

Sammy, Mar 15, 2009
Photo of tdm168
4/5  rDev -0.7%

tdm168, Apr 18, 2014
Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 0z. bottle. Plain cap. Really nice label. Bottle-conditioned and organic.

Chocolate aromas rise out of the glass as you pour it, backed by notes of coffee. The body is about as black-opaque as you can get, and only a thin thread of deep mahogany brown slips out at the base of the glass. The head rises up to a two-finger thick head, and then slowly compacts. It's dark tan and frothy, with some big bubbles still showing. A short 'mountain range' of lace is formed as the head falls, but unfortunately that initial clinginess fails as it goes and you're left with a thick splashy ring that was formed at the outset and then nothing much else.

The aroma is quite "mocha java' - and quite pleasantly 'chocolate-with-a-sweet-edge', and softly coffee-ish and nutty.

The flavor follows suit, and it's also a caramelish and toffee-like with a drizzle of butter. A bit like fudge as well. Nice! The dark malt acidity keeps it from becoming a hint too sweet at the start of the mouth; and then it warms to reveal its nutty and coffee-like notes across the middle as the moderate, stiff bitterness rises. Grassy hops flitter to and fro here and there, and all of those things fall together in a kind of sloppy finish in the end that has both its sweet points and its dry points. What you're left with is lingering caramel and coffee, which is not bad, and a smattering of grassy hop flavors that give it a little bit more character and balance it a bit.

Nicely done. And organic!!! Worth trying!

Overall, I find it really interesting and enjoyable.

NeroFiddled, Jun 16, 2009
Photo of dirtylou
3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber, no bs IV

review #1k

appearance: served in a snifter, big bold opaque body, creamy fizzy chocolate cap with full lacing. yum

smell: sweet and chewy aroma, rich caramel, sweet chocolate, tobacco, licorice, burnt sugars

taste: interesting RIS from the folks at pisgah - sweeter than maybe any imperial stout out there...blackberry, fig, plum, burnt sugar, molassess, cake-like chocolate. alcohol comes through a bit hot...solid beer but a little rough around the edges - overly sweet and a tad boozy

mouthfeel: creamy, medium body, lingering hop bitterness

drinkability: could be better

dirtylou, Jun 01, 2009
Photo of RocPorterFanatic
3.63/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Rich brown pour with thick, creamy, tan, head. Looks like carbonated molasses.
S - Dutch Cocoa, coffee and vanilla extract aromas. Pretty well rounded.
T - Nice roast coffee, almost espresso. Brown sugar and slight rasin sweetness. Alcohol warmth chases and blends it all together.
M - Very carbonated, keeps the beer from being cloying, cleansing the palate after every sip.

O - Good beer. Alcohol is very present, which I find to be a key to the style. This is the freshest I've had it. I prefer a little age on it to mellow the stronger flavors and let it blend together a little more.

RocPorterFanatic, Nov 10, 2011
Photo of Photekut
5/5  rDev +24.1%

Photekut, Nov 17, 2011
Photo of qcbrewer
4/5  rDev -0.7%

qcbrewer, Jul 17, 2014
Photo of prototypic
2.88/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Once again, I'm indebted to kkipple for this one. Thanks, Dan!

Bottle dated January, 2009

Vortex II pours a dark, chocolate fudge color. It's not far from opaque, but isn't quite there. Backlighting reveals a few garnet highlights at the outer edges. A dark mocha head caps it off. It stands roughly a finger and a half tall. It holds up pretty. Lacing was moderate.

The nose is rather average for the style. It starts out with a nice blend of roasted and chocolate malts. There's a light coffee presence that smells nice. Unfortunately, there's an off-putting dark fruit presence that's quite strong throughout. I'm not a fan of that aspect at all. For what it's worth, alcohol is blended pretty well. It's not a total disaster, but it doesn't exactly succeed.

The flavor is honestly a step below the nose. The malt base is far from bad. The chocolate and roasted malt flavors are pretty good. The blend pretty well with an appeasing coffee presence. Once again, the dark fruit creeps in and creates problems. It's rather tangy, distracting, and at odds with the stout flavors of the beer. It tastes a little sour even. Alcohol is masked pretty well. At this point, it's not nearly enough to redeem the flavor. Finishes tangy and a little sour.

Vortex II has a medium body. Carbonation is somewhat active, but isn't buzzy. It's not quite smooth, but doesn't have a bad feel. Drinkability is very average. That's probably generous. The flavor seems off and isn't very satisfying. On top that, it's a sizable beer. A bomber is way more than enough. A 12 oz. would've been better.

Pisgah Brewing Co. has the capability to brew excellent beer. Valdez is very impressive. I wasn't impressed with Vortex I or II though. This one is especially disappointing. The tangy, sour, dark fruit flavor really needs to be addressed. It's out of place and weird. Fixing that would dramatically improve it all around. Nonetheless, I appreciate the opportunity to try it. Thanks again, Dan!

prototypic, Jan 22, 2011
Photo of mikey711
2.98/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a nice dark brown with a minimal amount of head into a goblet as the bottle recommened.

S: Dark chocolate, brown sugar and some molasses. Also a good bit of roastiness is present as well.

T: It starts off like milk chocolate and some burnt coffee and caramel notes, but then there is this weird metallic note that was very off putting. It does seem like it is souring a bit which really was strange and beside that it did have a bit too much sweetness

M: The metallic aspect became even more present as it sat in my mouth. THe abv is detectable as well in this one and leave a warm feeling in my belly

D: Glad that I got to try it but dont know if i need to have it again. Also half a bomber is plenty

mikey711, Jan 08, 2010
Photo of russpowell
4.65/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours mahogany with a a finger of peach/brown colored head. Nice viscosity to this; good head retention & average lacing

S: Some coffee & dark fruit, plus chocolate once warm. Nose gets better as it warms

T: Coffee, dark chocolate, much dryness & a whisper of boozey warmth up front. Mocha & dryness dominate as this warms along with cherry, a touch of raisin & figs& even a bit of grape jelly?? Finishes dry with much dark fruit, rich dark chocolate & a kiss of molasses, brown sugar, & iron

MF: Chewy with moderate carbonation, some stickyness

Drinks a tad slow, due the complexity & but only just a touch. Another good big beer from Pisgah! Sure wish I'd bought a few more bottles of this when I was back in NC. This one I would probably would drink at above cellar temp if I get another bottle

russpowell, Jul 11, 2009
Photo of Kegatron
3.53/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle into a tulip glass. 2009 bottling, which I believe was supposed to be infected.

Pours black with a finger of rich dark mocha head. This maintains some thin creamy froth that dots the sides of the glass with robust swathes of lacing. The aroma has quite a bit of dark fruit going on, along with notes of roasted coffee, tangy caramel, cocoa, and light earthy citrus. This has got some flavor but they aren’t exactly blowing up in the nose.

The taste is more dark fruit and a flush of roast across the back. Chocolate sweetness hangs on the edges and I’m even getting a little bit of leftover citric fruit here, although the hops seem overall pretty faded at this point. That dark fruit flavor just dominates this and is what mostly hangs in the finish, with a tart pithiness that lingers. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a firm creaminess that expands outward into the mouth. There is maybe just a touch of warmth to this but man; this is unbelievably smooth for an 11% beer. I guess the age has done this some good.

Well if this was infected, it was one of the better infections in a beer that I tasted. I find it hard to believe that an Imperial Stout could have THAT much dark fruit character, even if some age had exacerbated that particular characteristic. But anyway, the extra tart dark fruitiness of this actually didn’t really turn me off from this as much as I thought it would, as this overall came off to me like an Imperialized version of a Cherry Stout. I do have to give respect to the smooth drinking nature of this for the size though. Just crazy. Anyway, if you have any left in the cellar, I’d say that they are actually still drinkable to a point but I know that I’ll be seeking out another vintage of this down the line to get the full Vortex II experience.

Kegatron, Aug 17, 2012
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Vortex II from Pisgah Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 251 ratings.