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Vortex II - Pisgah Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Vortex IIVortex II

Educational use only; do not reuse.

257 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 257
Reviews: 146
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 12.97%
Wants: 132
Gots: 33 | 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:
Beer added by: mikesgroove on 06-25-2007

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 257 | Reviews: 146 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours inky black and fairly viscous, with a thin head that settles to a brown ring. Smells quite licoricy with some bitter chocolate and roasty notes in the background. Very nice flavor with lots of licorice and bitter chocolate and some vinous notes, all very nicely blended. The chocolate notes end up with some cocoa elements as the beer opens up. Very smooth, and a great pleasure to drink. I've sometimes found Pisgah hit or miss, with their bigger beers mostly being hits, and when they hit, they often hit it deep. This is no exception- a great beer.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

Photo of mullenite
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another thick black pour but with a cola like head. Very short to rise but falls just as quickly in to nothingness.

Smells strongly of dark chocolate, dark fruits (plum, raisins) and butterscotch. Very similar to Black Albert or Allagash Black. Really more of a Belgian Stout than a typical RIS.

Tastes kind of like a blend of a quad and a stout, which is actually really good but not for a beer that is billed as a RIS. The dark fruit flavors really over take the roasted character.

Thinner body but I enjoyed the carbonation and the thinner body kind of worked with the sweeter, fruitier, flavors.

Overall I really enjoyed the beer but it is not very RIS like. I would definitely recommend it to people who enjoy Belgian stouts.

Photo of thegodfather2701
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours nearly pitch black with a nice mocha colored head that leaves a nice layer of foam. There is some nice cascading on the glass.

S-Espresso, chocolate, brown sugar, a hint of dark fruits. It smells delicious. The chocolate stands out the most.

T-Very, very sweet I think from the high alcohol. Like the nose the chocolate really stands out. Coffee comes through mostly in the aftertaste. There is also some brown sugar and I'm picking up some grape flavors.

M-Somewhat syrupy.

D-This beer is a sipper, primarily for two reason: 1. Its high alcohol content and 2. its sweetness stemming from the high alcohol content. I think it would be a better RIS if it wasn't so sweet. It is hard to finish a bomber because of the sweetness.

Overall, this is a good RIS, but not quite a great RIS. I have had three of the top imperial stouts in NC; Sexual Chocolate, Olde Hickory Imperial Stout, and now Vortex II and I think it comes in third place of those three, with Olde Hickory's being the best. I think it is a good beer to try for lovers of the style, but don't expect to be blown away.

Photo of Tilley4
2.98/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a Duvel tulip...

Pours an almost black with a noisy persistent head... Little lighter than most RIS...

A very sweet chocolatey smell right up front mixed with some sweet fruits... This isn't as pleasant as I was hoping... Sort of like Raisinets in a glass and not in a good way... There's also a healthy whiff of booze here as well...

Extremely sweet and chocolatey as the aroma would suggest. Huge dose of booziness mixes in as well and this quickly gets weird. Another sip brings more of the same with a strange finish of fruit and an unpleasant aftertaste...this one got rough quickly and it actually wound up a drain pour for me... Pretty disappointing...

Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.01/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks Brian for sending this my way!

A-Body is pitch black and does not allow light to shine through. Pours with 1-2 finger dark tan, fizzy head which eventually fades to a thin collar. Traces of lacing are left behind in the glass.

S- Nose is very strange. Lots of ripe, dark fruit, such as raisin, plum, and dates come through as well as some sweet chocolate malt but there is a really big earthy barnyard component in the background.

T- Flavor is very sweet and fruity. As with the nose lots of dark fruit is there and seems to be the main character, with a sweet chocolate malt backbone. The finish adds a touch of earthiness but its mostly sweet fruit and chocolate going on.

M- Well done. Medium carbonation and relatively thick body.

D- I have been really looking forward to trying this one for awhile and its pretty much a let down. The fruity sweetness gets somewhat cloying and its hard to get through the glass. Seems to be a bit of a mess for the style.

Photo of tr4nc3d
3.1/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to WesPatrick for this one

1 Pint 6fl oz bottle poured into my snifter

Pours an opaque like color with no light being able to pass through this. Pour produced a one and a half inch mocha colored head. It had average head retention with a nice very thin layer on top but no lacing was left behind.

The Aroma is coming off with a nice malty sweetness of caramel, chocolate, plums, raisins, cherrys, oak, and sherry. Slight hint of vinegar, hopefully it is not a bad sign and is just how it is supposed to smell

Taste is slightly sweet upfront and coming off tasting very similar to that of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. I get taste of dark fruit with cherries, some notes of plums, hints of sherry, slight soy like taste that is not overbearing. Funky and Sourness taste is present in this beer and I know it is not something that should be present in this style, I would say this could definitely be classified as a Strong Dark Ale instead of a RIS.

Mouthfeel is leaning on full bodied with minimal carbonation. Smooth and not thick as most RIS.

Overall I would say this is the most interesting tasting RIS I have ever tasted, and I'm not saying that in a good way, something was off in this beer and looking from other reviews after I did mine, it looks like Pisgah has QC PROBLEMS!!!

Photo of AgentZero
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to marine1975 for hooking me up with this one in a trade.

A - Dark brown, quite brownish/red on the edges. Small tan head really didn't last very long and left no lacing.

S - Slightly roasted malts, bit of chocolate and coffee in there. Whiff of alcohol, but nothing to indicate this is a fairly high ABV beer.

T - I was shocked to find out this was an organic beer, as most of my experiences with organics have been pretty bad. Chocolate and carmel, the malts are hinted at. Nice roasty quality to it that appears for a second, and finishes with a bitter, but not overpowering coffee taste. Quite sweet, but not in a bad way.

M - I think this is probably due to the organic nature of the beer, but it was too thin, my one real complaint about this brew. Medium carbonation.

D - The thin/watery style of this RIS may actually make it easier to drink, dangers at 11.70%. Very good tasting and would definately drink this again if it were available.

Photo of jrallen34
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I drank this from a 22oz bottle into my Orval glass. Thanks agentzero.

The beer is dark brown, not really black, lots of brown in the light. The head has little carbonation only rising about a finger of light tan head that is gone quickly. Light lacing.

The aroma is medium mostly malts show with some light bitter coffee with some chocolate at the end, not a ton going on.

The taste has much more going on the the aroma, it has a little sweet vanilla and chocolate with a light bitter coffee finish. Its really nice.

The feel is the biggest downfall here, its really light, I think this is because its organic.

Overall, this is a good RIS, and great organic beer, I can't believe its organic.

Photo of CBlack85
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at a local restaurant, served in a pint glass.

Nearly pitch black in color with just the slightest hints of ruby highlights. The deep tan head is not quite as dense as I would expect, and does not last long. Very little lacing is present.

Lots of chocolate sweetness in the nose mixed with a fair amount of caramel and coffee. Not overwhelming but a very nice strong aroma. For the most part the smell is right on with the style, just slightly sweeter.

Like the nose the taste is a mixture of sweet chocolate, coffee, and caramel. There is also some raisin, and maybe a hint of licorice. The beer is very smooth, a bit thinner than I expected, but very pleasing nonetheless. The biggest surprise is how well they mask the 11.7% ABV. I expected alot more booziness, but they really hid it well.

Over all, this is a terrific beer.

Photo of GbVDave
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into multiple glasses. Special thanks to Ineedabeerhere for this from a trade of ours from a while ago!

A: Pours a dark and sludgy black. Thin, dark khaki colored head stays for a while and leaves considerable lace.

S: Nice aroma of dark chocolate and blackened malt...soaked in booze.

T: Tons of chocolate with the rest of the usual suspects; cherries, brownies, and fudge.

M: Suprisingly bitter (I suspect the abv may have something to do with that) but also with a creamy fascet for balance.

D: When Joe spied this bottle he said to prepare myself for some infection. Not so with this one. Very nice!

Photo of BTPete
3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 1/09, drank 1/12/10.

Bottle shared 3 ways.

Pisgah Vortex II 1/09

A: pitch black, think tan/dark head.

S: a liitle boozy, coffee, chocolate.

T: nice warming sensation, a slightly odd flavor at end, not overbearing but there.

M: smooth, boozy, nice carb for style, but a little thin bodied, mentioned that it seemed watery or not as chewy as you might hope for style.

D: good beer, my first pisgah but would like to try fresh. I was really looking forward this one and thought of it as a special bottle to open. I was a little underwhelmed but it wasn't a bad beer at all. I've had better recently.

Photo of DefenCorps
3.06/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A good friend was kind enough to hand-deliver a bottle of this last year, and even gave me a sample from a growler he had. Thank you, Mike, I really liked the pour, and am looking forward to this bottle. Jan 09, 11.2%ABV

The pour is brownish black, but in my snifter, it's all black. A dense, brown head caps the beer, hanging around quite a while before it recedes leaving some patchy foam.

Wow, I just lost a nose hair smelling this. Going back, I do notice a prominent alcohol bite right up front, along with a rich, fruity, chocolate-like character. Definite fusel character is present, and every once in a while, I also get a strange banana-like character. Mild burnt malt/acridity is present. This is nothing like what it was fresh. Mildly milky, the combination of chocolate and cream is quite appealing.

With an excessive yeasty fruitiness and a Splenda-like sweetness, there is a surprising lack of depth here. Once past the initial blast, the familiar flavors of cocoa, milky chocolate, coffee and again, the fruitiness, quite berry-like with cherries. A touch of char appears towards the finish that's dry and mildly astringent. Alcohol also appears on the finish.

Fairly light in body and definitely over-carbonated, this beer is OK on the palate. As I said, the finish is disappointing, mildly metallic in character. I am not particularly enjoying this.

Photo of mikey711
3.05/5  rDev -23.9%
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

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

inflatablechair brought this bomber over some months ago.. reviewed from notes.. Thanks Sam!

1" brown head.. brew is black but hold deep highlites..

Nice roasty nose with abundant chocolate..

Flavor holds quite a bit of dark fruits.. cherries.. prunes.. dark raisins... bittersweet chocolate melts and moves fairly quickly into char territory.. a bit to black mid palate and into the finish.. even touches of smoke.

Good body.. but the carbonation seems too high.. no alcohol.

I remember liking this one and wish I had taken better notes... we both thought this was going to be infected, but I dismissed it as dark fruity esters... ehh.. pretty good..


Photo of TurdFurgison
2.52/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle received earlier this year in a trade. As with the other Pisgah beers I've had (Vortex I, Valdez), the label is kind of 60's hippie eco-art. Good looking enough to save in my collection.

The beer itself is not quite what I was hoping for. It started off OK from a visuals perspective, dark brown with a thick tan head, actually a little too thick which was part of the issue with Vortex I (which was more of a gusher). But the smell was really off, very similar to buttered popcorn. A deep sniff hints at roasted malts beneath the butter but I'm thinking this has too much diacetyl for my tastes. The flavor is mildy better with roasty malty sweetness, but with that comes a sour bite that is very objectionable in a RIS. I didn't finish the bomber.

After these experiences I'm thinking that Pisgah either has inconsistency issues or improper bottle disinfecting procedures or some other horrible thing that needs fixing.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.85/5  rDev -28.9%
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.

Photo of rye726
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark oily brown with a nice mocha head.

Nose has ripe pitted fruits, cocoa, molasses, bitter hops and coffee.

Taste is quite sweet with lots of plum and cherry flavors. Also some chocolate, espresso, licorice, anise and herbal hops.

Body is a bit thin, but well carbonated.

Decent RIS from Pisgah.

Photo of coldmeat23
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees
Thanks to Deuane for this one!

This pours up big and black, like a good RIS should. A nice, one-finger thick, head of dark brown foam forms and then recedes, fairly quickly, to a spotty, filmy, surface covering. Lacing is in medium sized strands and fairly sticky.

The nose, while somewhat muted, has a nice amount of sweet maltiness, along with a touch of roastiness. It has light hints of coffee and a touch of chocolate.

A big dose of rich malts are what dominate here. This is blended, in a wonderful way, with a nice lacto sweetness and some very nice dark fruit notes. Cherrys and plums mostly, with a touch of raisins. There is a mild presence of milk chocolate and some light hints of smoke and roastiness.

Very full-bodied, almost qualifies as thick. It has a medium-to-high level of carbonation, which is just a touch overdone, IMO. It's mostly smooth, but has a touch of sharpness. I think that the mild level of creaminess could be boosted and the whole brew would benefit from it.

The abv level of almost 12% is extremely well-hidden, flavorwise. The bad part is that it's already starting to hammer me and I'm only almost to the halfway point. (It is a bomber, though.)
Time to sit back and enjoy the ride...

Photo of rudylaw
4/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

Photo of rpstevens
4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a dogfish head signature glass.

The beer pours a deep black with a two finger caramel-to-off-white head. The head fades quickly, leaving behind thick oily lacing on the sides of the glass.

The smell is bitter dark chocolate, roasted coffee and some faint hints of tart fruit. There is no alcohol present in the nose at all, which is a surprise given the high abv.

The taste is a bit different than the nose as the tart fruit's and bittersweet chocolate come through first. The roasted coffee bitterness follows the chocolate perfectly and the alcohol sweetness comes in just at the end of the taste.

The beer mouthfeel is a bit light for the style, but well carbonated. The dry finish is pleasant and leaves me craving more of the beer. The alcohol is barely present and compliments the other flavors well, making this something that I can easily drink an entire bomber of.

Photo of charlesw
2.65/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Frickin' A beautiful. I shit you not. Dark and rich and black and medium dark head of tiny bubbles that lasts forever. I mean, shit. Perfection. There is no better, anywhere I've ever seen. Amazing. Astonishing. Not ridiculously thick and certainly not thin and they really must have worked at this. Beautiful.

Smells like beer. Oh, I'm just shitting you. It's a light fruit/malt blend of flavors. Maybe some cocoa powder and hints of apricots. Uh oh. I hope that doesn't mean what I think it means.

Alas, it means exactly what I thought it meant which is to say that there's a sour fruit tang to it. Total bummer. There are all kinds of interesting things going on in there, too. Chocolate, of course, and bits of coffee. Some caramel. A lot of plumb to it, too. Interesting. Whoa. Cross between an RIS and an English Barleywine? Alas, no. The problem is the sour note. Well, that and the low body. Either this has turned or it is intentionally a little tart and on the dry side. Either way, hey, it's not at all what I expect or seek out in an RIS. Bummer.

Photo of Deuane
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On the "secret tap" at the pub...thanks to Uncle Jedi for asking!

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

A-Deep black with a medium dark tan head that reduces to a thin layer of film with nice lace.

S-Rich, dark chocolate, cherry, roast and a nice backing of dark fruits(mainly prune). Bit of backing earthy bitterness too.

T-Bitter dark chocolate and rich roasted malt melds with a myriad of fruit flavors--cherry, prune and raisin. The lightest touch of smokiness and the same earthy hop bite in the drying finish.

M-Medium-heavy body with a rich robust viscous feel. Long lasting flavours with the drying finish.

D-Tasty indeed. Nicely aged with all of the expected and desired flavours in a rich and robust RIS. Another winner from the Black Mountain Boys!

Photo of corby112
3.24/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a wide snifter, pitch black and completely opaque with not even the slightest hint of lighter edges when held to a light source and a MASSIVE three finger pillowy coffee and cream colored head that has amazing retention, barely fading at all and coating the glass with lare chunks of soapy lacing on the way down. One of the best looking beers I've ever seen.

Roasty chocolate malt aroma with hints of licorice, oatmeal, espresso bean, burnt toast, toffee, sweet alcohol and anise.

Surprisingly hop forward with a very roasty, yet slightly watered down body. I was expecting this to be much more chewy and viscous based on the appearance but was quite let down. Flavor is dominated by roasted chocolated malt and burnt toast with some spicy anise/clove notes, caramel, toffee, oatmeal and dark fruit notes. Very dry and kind of one dimensional with a good bit of alcohol warmth in the finish.

Photo of ffejherb
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured via 22oz. bomber on 9/5/09, courtesy of davide169.

A - Poured an onyx black body underneath a thin tan cap that reduced to a patchy film and left spotty lace around the glass.

S - Roasty malt with the essence of coffee and hints of chocolate, but what the aroma mostly suggests is toasted nuts. Some mild sour notes also emerged as it warmed up a bit.

T - Roasty and nutty flavor with hints of chocolate and coffee. A slight sour character emerged in the middle, which lasted through the finish. The malt character is joined by a tinge of earthy hop bitterness in the backend.

M - Medium bodied with a smooth, oily texture and a hint of carbonation. Finish is largely sweet with just a hint of astringency on the palate.

D - While this is a very good Imperial Stout overall, I definitely prefer Valdez. Still, I'm glad to have had the opportunity to sample this fine brew.

Vortex II from Pisgah Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 257 ratings.