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Vortex II - Pisgah Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Vortex IIVortex II

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

240 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 240
Reviews: 145
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 12.9%
Wants: 130
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: 240 | Reviews: 145 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

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.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2009 02:15:33 | More by Sammy
Photo of t0rin0


4/5  rDev -0.7%

12-08-2012 22:10:01 | More by t0rin0
Photo of UCLABrewN84


3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to queens1130 for sharing this one at Retsinis' tasting.

Bottled 9/2012.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, char, and slight smoke aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa and slight smoke flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with nice subtle smoke qualities in the aroma and flavor.

Serving type: bottle

04-28-2014 18:50:47 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of djrn2

New Jersey

3.75/5  rDev -6.9%

02-24-2013 01:15:10 | More by djrn2
Photo of Thorpe429


4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to bmanning for opening this up at a recent tasting.

A: Pours a very dark brown with some mahogany hues to it. Nice off-white head.

S: Nice chocolate flavors really come through alongside a bit of coffee. Good notes of slightly-burnt caramel and roasted malts.

T: Much like the smell, with some dark dates and brown sugar coming through as well.

M: Medium body with good carbonation.

D: Very nice stout. I haven't had many things from Pisgah, but I'd love to get down and visit given their reputation and the overall beer scence in Asheville.

Serving type: bottle

05-23-2010 22:25:41 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of BuckeyeNation


2.8/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Midnight black with dark copper highlights. The upper third of the glass is filled with a fluffy chunk of caramel colored foam that looks decent enough. It deflates relatively slowly and leaves an underwhelming amount of lace on the glass as it does so.

The nose is typical RIS... with one exception. There's a mild-moderate amount of tanginess that shouldn't be present in a beer of this style. Beneath the somewhat enjoyable roasted maltiness is a 'raisins soaked in lemon juice' quality that better sort itself out on the taste buds or this will be a long 22 ounces.

Vortex II is as much of a disappointment as Vortex I was. It's hard to believe that I keep getting unrepresentative beer from this brewery, but I suppose it's possible. Age should not be a factor. This bottle has to be less than one year old and should last much longer than that anyway. Just noticed the label: bottled 1/09.

With respect to sourness, what is tolerable in the nose is less tolerable on the palate. The sweetness of the malt goes toe-to-toe with the tartness of <whatever> and comes close to losing the battle. Obviously, this is not what an RIS should taste like. Hershey bars and cold coffee are the only flavor links to normalcy. It looks like the taste and drinkability scores just took another hit.

Mouthfeel is tough to sort out given the offputting quality of the beer's flavor. In the end, it's too thin for the style, although there is some amount of viscosity present. For what it's worth, the alcohol is masked exceptionally well.

It's getting harder and harder to think positive thoughts about Pisgah Brewing Company when two of their major releases (Vortex I and Vortex II) have been average and below average respectively. I'm willing to give them a few more chances, but expectations will not be high.

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2009 22:20:13 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a pitch black color with a rocky head that sticks well and leaves a few shards of lace

Smell: Espresso, dark chocolate, tobacco and licorice

Taste: Opens with an incredibly dense, licorice and dark fruit filled chocolate flavor that builds, in a fruity direction, by mid-palate; after the swallow, the dark fruit intensity is joined by some hoppy bitterness that lingers for quite some time

Mouthfeel: Thick and viscous; withe moderate carbonation; considerable warmth in the gullet on the way down

Drinkability: Still a bit young (drink by 2018!) but the alcoholic warmth should fade somewhat as it ages; nevertheless, quite an accomplishment

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2008 00:53:52 | More by brentk56
Photo of nmann08

District of Columbia

4/5  rDev -0.7%

06-11-2012 02:57:00 | More by nmann08
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

4.9/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ahh, was finally able to get myself a bottle of the 2nd Vortex release. So thrilled to get this. Pisgah has to be my favorite localbrewery by far and they never seem to disapoint. Was able to get one of the misfit bottles with the upseide down label,LOL. Now onto the beer.

Poured a deep dark as night, engine oil black with a thick tan head that relinquished its grip on the glass only to be replaced by sticky gooey brown lace for the remainder of the session. Aroma was very pleasant, albeit I thought it would have been a bit more overpowering. Lots of chocolate and carmel tones with a hint of roasted coffee were reasily apparent, and even more so as it warmed.
First impresion on taste, was wow this was smooth. Coming at me at 11.7% if I did not know that coming in I never would have picked up on it. Lots of caramel and choclate were noticable, and the slight warming from the alcohol did manage to sneak up on me, but a hot one this was definatly not. Not the thickest feeling RIS but it really wasnt necassary as the flavor profile was big enough. Nice dry finish left me looking for more.
Overall this was excellent, and easily my second favorite offering from the boys, only outdone by Vortex 1, but thats only cause I am a hophed by hert. This is a fine brew and I can only hope the release some more as it could be the one that puts them on the map for sure!

Serving type: bottle

06-25-2007 01:28:25 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of acurtis

New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

10-28-2012 20:24:20 | More by acurtis
Photo of ygtbsm94


3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

01-26-2012 06:22:53 | More by ygtbsm94
Photo of kjkinsey


4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

06-10-2014 02:03:30 | More by kjkinsey
Photo of ChainGangGuy


4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Nearly opague, black body with a thin, fizzy tan head.

Smell: Roasty, creamy aroma of dark malts, bittersweet chocolate, and even some licorice root.

Taste: Strong, flavorful espresso with sweet, dark toffee and hunks of bakers chocolate. Its really got a raw, earthy naunce to it, especially as hints of licorice and chicory emerge on the smooth, roasty finish. I gotta say I didn't notice the alcohol and had no idea it was supposed to be dramatic 11.7%. I'm blown away!

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Low carbonation. Luscious, creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: I know, I have within me the power to just say "no thanks, I don't think I'll have that second helping of Pisgah Vortex II", but I mean, when you're in this person's house for as long as I am, with no real breaks, and you can't go home to spend time with loved ones, and you can't play Super Castlevania for the SNES, it is awfully hard to simply turn away from the only available source of pleasure.

Serving type: growler

07-01-2007 05:06:55 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of Texasfan549


4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

06-10-2014 01:51:28 | More by Texasfan549
Photo of kylehay2004


4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

12-28-2013 23:11:03 | More by kylehay2004
Photo of TMoney2591


3.63/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a clear plastic cup.

Thanks to VDubb86 for sharing his bottle!

Gotta start the Dark Lord Day festivities sometime: might as well do it while in line. With this beer. Natch. It pours a deep black-brown topped by a finger of dark tan foam. The nose comprises roasted malts, molasses, dark barbecue sauce, and light smoke. The taste holds notes of roasted malts, molasses, burnt chocolate syrup, and toasted peanuts. It's not bad, but it is a step down from the smell. The body is a stolid medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a kinda dry finish. Overall, a pretty good impy stout, but the slightly meek flavors and even slightly-er weak feel hold it back from real greatness.

Serving type: bottle

05-01-2011 21:29:30 | More by TMoney2591
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-16-2009 00:37:16 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of RblWthACoz


4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a brown head. Nose is powdered cocoa and molasses. Flavor is molasses, rich malts, some coffee in the back. Kind of a hop spicy thing on the back as well. Feel is extremely smooth and quite thick on liquid. Carbonation actually nips a bit at the tongue. This is a very nice RIS. Not bringing loads and loads and loads of complexities. But it's deep and robust enough that I would go for it in large portions if possible.

Serving type: bottle

05-04-2009 07:30:34 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

3.55/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

January 2009 release acquired from mikesgroove courtesy of the Little Guy 2 BIF, so a big “Thank You” goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a large foamy beige head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma dark fruit, licorice, roasted malts, some chocolate, some coffee and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts with a hearty roasted malt character followed by some flavors of licorice, dark fruit, chocolate and coffee. There’s a mild hops presence but not much balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp but not very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, deceptively strong kick, decent representation of style, there are definitely several other beers in the style that I would choose first.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2012 05:59:38 | More by TheManiacalOne
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

Serving type: bottle

07-11-2009 03:07:21 | More by russpowell
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-17-2012 17:39:11 | More by Kegatron
Photo of drabmuh


4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A non-barrel aged beer opened by Paul the day following a tasting. Beer is black and forms a decent head of medium brown bubbles that doesn't leave a lot of lacing on the glass. Carbonation is low but steady. Looks fine.

Aroma is sweet and kind of chocolaty. Its mildly alcoholic but its overall really nice smelling. There is a subtle roast to the aroma.

Beer is medium and unfortunately leads off with a nice alcohol bite. The sweetness of the malt cuts it short though. The following flavors are chocolate and some coffee at the back. Its good. The mouthfeel is pretty creamy and I'm pleased with it a lot. I can turn off the barrel aged comparisons quickly and say that this is not a disappointing beer at all.

Serving type: bottle

09-28-2010 21:38:29 | More by drabmuh
Photo of jlindros


3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one has been staring me in the face for a while, and I finally decided to crack it. THanks to womencantsail for this one.

It pours a very dark thick and frothy head with some large bubbles in the middle popping their way at a medium pace, then slowing as the big bubbles disappear. It leaves a nice thick lacing on the sides as well. THe beer is basically pitch black, it doesn't look super thick, but very dark it is.

The nose brings lots of nice dark malts. Plenty of roasted barley, some cocoa nibs and dark chocolate, bitter super dark chocolate cocoa powder, loaded with dark chocolate actually. Some oatmeal and creamy milk chocolate. A very light sweet malt, but at the same time a dry Irish stout like aroma. A slight roasty malt bitterness, and hints of Irish yeast spicy fruit aromas. It has a very slight sour fruit aroma as well, well not quite sour, more like super over-ripe.

The taste starts with lots of dark malts, heavy dark malts. It has some black patent malt, some roasted barley, a little chocolate malt, a lot less chocolate now. Some bitter roasted malt, some earthy super concentrated dark chocolate and bakers chocolate, but not much. A slight syrupy caramel, but not much of that either. A slight rich creamy malt and chocolate, slight oatmeal. Also that over ripe fruit flavor that sometimes comes from a RIS, I'm not exactly sure where it comes from, but it's there, I actually think it's from the burnt malts. Speaking of which, some burnt malt flavors, and a burnt coffee flavor too. Some dry Irish yeast like flavors, a little but of the spicy yeast finish as well. It dries off on the finish, more so than it started which was pretty dry. It starts to almost pull the moisture from my mouth as it finishes, with a lingering sticky mouth coating syrup. More lingering roast and dark malts, and more of the slight tangy acidic fruit and burnt coffee malts.

The mouth is creamy and rich, and full bodied but not quite as much as I expected it to be, with good carbonation.

Well, it has a good drinkability for the booze, it drinks more like a 7-8%, not 11.7%, very smooth and drinkable, but the supr dry finish combined with the syrupy mouth coating makes it a little iffy.

This started off very nice, great appearance, pretty good nose, the taste started good, but then fell off quickly, too much of the burnt coffee rinds and tangy acidic fruit. Otherwise a nice beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-10-2010 02:58:38 | More by jlindros
Photo of mdfb79

New York

4.23/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From 06/09/12 notes. A 2010 vintage bottle I got in February 2011, been wanting to crack this for a while. 22 oz. bottle into a tulip.

a - Pours an almost black brown color with one inch of dark tan head and moderate carbonation evident. Looks like a big, great RIS.

s - Smells of roasted malts, choclate, bready malts, coffee, light dark fruits. Very nice and balanced nose; I like it a lot.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, sweet chocolate, coffee, vanilla, dark fruits, bitter chocolate, and cream. Again, everything is balanced and very nice.

m - Medium to full body and moderate carbonation. Body is very smooth and creamy; awesome body. No heat at all; very surprised the ABV is 11.7% ABV.

o - Overall I liked this beer a lot. It looks great, has a fantastic mouthfeel, no heat at all, and is just very balanced all around. Probably not the sexiest pick since it is not barrel aged or have crazy ingredients added, but it is a great balanced RIS. I have one more 2010 bottle I will most likely be opening in the early fall as it is drinking great right now.

Serving type: bottle

06-28-2012 17:23:36 | More by mdfb79
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This has a really deep malt character that is quite noticeable as I pour; concentrated malt notes leaning towards umami-like richness. The beer pours with a frothy, initial three-finger thick, lightly browned, tan colored head. The beer is almost perfectly black and does not allow any light through no matter how close to the light I hold it. Heady alcohol aromatics mix with aromas of chocolate & coffee liquors. A significant burnt fruit character reminds me of a mix of prunes, figs and brown sugar encrusted raisins that have been left for too long under a broiler. Chalky cocoa aromatics, then well toasted bread, which then moves to a soft, deeply burnt, sharp roast malt character that is only really noticed if you really dig for it. I like how rich this beer is, but without being driven by the over-the top, sharp, acidic roasted grain notes that dominate so many American interpretations of this style. At times the mix of alcohol and fruit suggest an up front note of nail polish and methanol; luckily this is not too dominant.

Not as heavy bodied as I expected, though it is still pretty rich and chewy. Incredibly rich chocolate flavors are found in this brew; these chocolate notes are a mix of Dutch cocoa, chocolate extract and milk chocolate. A distinct fruitiness is noticeable here in the flavor, while not as burnt as the aroma might have suggested I get notes of prunes and figs. The finish is sweet from both the fruit-like malt and a touch of alcohol. There is also a dusty, slightly husky, toasted grain character in the finish that lingers for quite some time. A touch of dark-roast coffee notes are noticeable just a bit in the finish, but this note plays a lesser and lesser role as the beer warms up. The prune flavors get a bit more amplified as the beer warms up and it even picks up a bit of saltiness.

This is a pretty mellow beer for such a big imperial stout. Strangely the umami-like character I noticed initially in the aroma did not show up again in this beer really, including the aroma. I really like that it is focused more on the rich malt and chocolate character than the overly roasted, burnt character that is so often found in the style. Not a bad brew, somehow it is a bit too mellow. Said another way, this brew seems to work much better near 50°F / 10°C, as it gets much warmer & loses the carbonation texture it becomes a bit boring. So my recommendation is to share this with at least four other people so you get the best of this brew (don't serve too cold though).

Serving type: bottle

02-29-2008 05:23:49 | More by Gueuzedude
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Vortex II from Pisgah Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 240 ratings.