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Vortex II - Pisgah Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Vortex IIVortex II

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

148 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 148
Hads: 266
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 17.34%
Wants: 130
Gots: 28 | FT: 1
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Vortex II Alström Bros
Reviews: 148 | Hads: 266
Photo of TheHoppiest
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into an oversized snifter. Pours black as oil, with a thin tan head that reduces to a mere ring of head around the glass.

Smells of cocoa, mild coffee and and alcohol, mild vanilla and caramel as well.

Warm alcohol, malty toffee, milk chocolate, mild coffee, and vanilla bean. This is a sweet, warm tasty beer with a mild alcohol taste that barely reveals the high alcohol content.

Full bodied, I served this good and warm, which helps to really open this beer up.

Highly drinkable, this is my second Pisgah this weekend, and I consider myself impressed with the quality of their brews. Can't wait to try more!

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Photo of jlindros
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

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

Bottle shared by Lunch. Thanks Paul!

A: This big RIS has a black body. It is opaque except for the uppermost layer of the beer, where it appears a bubbly, dark brown. A small beige head sits atop the beer, but fades very rapidly.

S: Nice aroma with scents of roasted malt, chocolate.

T: A good tasting beer, with prominent chocolate flavors. At nearly 12% abv, this beer packs a punch that it difficult to disguise. Alcohol is present from the nose to the finish, though it's a well crafted beer and overall, tastes fine - just strong.

M: Medium bodied, not as viscous or thick as I would prefer from such a high gravity beer.

D: A solid beer. I would enjoy having this again.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.17/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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Photo of maximum12
1.93/5  rDev -51.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Thanks to jcb890 for a bottle of this dark-souled creature. Had the Valdez first & enjoy sampling anything from this brewery. "We all drink downstream" indeed. Nice bottle art, too, for what that's worth.

Pours black, foams moderately, as if only slightly rabid. Smell warrants a couple of tries; for an RIS, this has a distinct nose of dark fruits & a touch of sour under the malts. Belgian or the growing shadow of evil?

Vortex II is light on the Russian & heavy on the fruits. Raisins, plums, figs, & other sorties from the fruit bowl march across the palate. Malts make an appearance as a supporting character rather than setting the stage. As it warms the fruits become more pronounced, then edge towards tartness, & the feel thins out noticeably. Sadly, it is the shadow of evil. This is in the toddler stage of infection. Warms more. Tastes worse. Ad nauseum.

I'll presume from the other reviews that this is a good RIS, but I can't rate it that way. The fruits are rotting. Makes me sad. This one's going to end up in the drain.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Brentk56. Thanks Brent!

My bottle says the abv is 11.2%.

The cap came off very easily...

Looks pitch black to me with a 2 finger hof that's tan. Good lacing.

The smell is roasty with notes of chocolate and toffee and a peculiar smell of something....fruity? Dark fruits, me thinks.

The taste has the roasted malt, espresso, chocolate, toffee, plenty of sweetness, then some dark fruits move in that are berry like and a touch of licorice also shows up. Whoa, this is quite the fruit Imperial Stout. I'll have to admit, the fruit threw me off though I mentioned it in the smell and it took a few sips before my palate adjusted to what is going on. I'm comfortable with it now.

Medium, close to full bodied with lightish carbonation, the mouthfeel is super smooth. One of the best for the style I've had, iirc.

Drinkability? The abv is up there but is hidden very well. The taste, after getting used to it, is fine. Heck, I'm enjoying this Imperial Stout muchly. A very good if different take on the style and it works for me.

Edit: I see a 1/09 right above the bar code so I'm guessing that's the bottling date? Also, I didn't realize that this is an organic brew. Cool.

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Photo of mondegreen
4.37/5  rDev +9.8%
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...

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

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Photo of jampics2
3.37/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle, this has been in the cellar for a little while. Seemed like a good afternoon to try something new.

Opened with a huge "pssst", and had some lively head into the snifter. But that died right away and now I'm left with something that looks like flat cola.

Smell is interesting. Dark roast (chocolate, coffee), some nuttiness, and a fruity component as well. Dark cherry? A touch of alcohol and some acidity as well.

Taste is OK. This may have a slight infection actually. Not a ruined beer, though, but the dark chocolate and coffee tastes are dominated by a cherry flavor that has some tartness and a slightly acrid note. But enjoyable, really not what I expected - this is similar to a dark Belgian ale actually in many regards. Huge sweetness and a touch of tartness closes this out.

Mouthfeel is sub standard for an RIS. Thin and very carbonated. Can't give credit where it's not due, this is a poor feel. Drinkability is OK, though. Like I said, there's something amiss in these bottles these days, but it's not a ruined beer. Just not the chocolate milkshake RIS I was looking for today. I would not buy or trade for again but would try fresh on tap.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.28/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass. Emerges pitch black and oily, thick and chewy looking. Not much in the way of foam on top of the beer, but what is there is a dark tan color.

Aroma is a bit missing. Slightly fruity with some chocolate present. Not much roastiness.

Flavor is sweet and chocolatey and filled with licorice and figs and plums, raisins even. More raw, bitter chocolate in the flavor.

Thick and chewy and very oily on the palate. Alcohol becomes noticeable as the beer warms but the abv is never buring or hot. Slighlty cloying towards the end. Not an easy drinker but a good sipper. Not sure I would have this one again; too sweet and sitcky and oily for my tastes.

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Photo of mikeyv35
4.45/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Date: 06/11/2010
Type: 22oz. Bottle
Vintage: 2009
Glassware: Portsmouth Tulip

*Want to thank the generous BA TimmyP for hooking me up with this bottle in a trade. Timmy is the man!

Poured a midnight black in color w/ a 1 finger tan head, that left a decent amount of lacing on the glass. Nose was of espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malts, and a touch of smokiness. The taste was fabulous! Tasted roasted chocolate, molasses, and maple syrup up front, and a finish of espresso and mild hop bite. This brew was perfectly balanced between sweetness and bitter finish, which prevented it from becoming cloying. The mouthfeel was rich and pretty full bodied, but adequate carbonation prevented it from being too filling. Could not detect a hint of the 11.20% ABV, and finished the 22oz. bottle with ease and was left yearning for more.

Overall, I have to say this is one of the best non-BA brews I have had the pleasure of drinking this year! Timmy, where are you? I need more!

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Photo of Walken
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pisgah: Vortex II (2009) (Tasted 06/06/10)
Tap @ Pisgah Brewery [Black Mountain, NC] : poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Black, thick, inky liquid fills the glass, with a teeny-tiny bubbly tan head.
Odor: A blend dark and milk chocolate, subtle whiffs of fruity alcohol and suggestions of rich caramel malt.
Consistency: Creamy, smooth beer. High end of medium bodied, pushing full. Low carbonation.
Flavor: Big, rich chocolate and fruit notes, complimented by a healthy, but small dose of light caramel malt sweetness. Roast is subdued for style and that is a-ok, it works for this beer. The combo of fruitiness from the malt and yeast gives this beer a flavor profile reminiscent of a Belgian style stout or strong dark ales. Finish is big, roast comes out a little bit, bittersweet chocolate and fruit linger. A few months of aging has mellowed the alcohol quite a bit in this beer, only a few hints of it, surprising for an 11% beer.

This is quite far off the track for style, but it tastes great, dangerously drinkable for a big stout.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.46/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-thinner bubbly head that is somewhat creamy and tan in color. the beer is pitch black in color.

S-light nose, roasted malts up front, hints of sweet fruit, plum and figs. notes of a musky earth and funk, mushroom like.

T-lightly roasted up front, dark chocolate lies in the middle, slightly bitter coffee, big sweetness takes over. lots of plums and cherries with notes of raisins.

M-medium to full body, extremely smooth but the carbonation is low and the back end falls off a little.

D-its a little sweet and the taste has a light funkiness that seems to be a little off. smooth but not heavy, decent but not great.

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Photo of TK5150
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sent from TimmyP, thanks man.

A- Pours very dark brown/black with a one finger light brown head. Seems to have aggressive carbonation even though the head wasn't that large (it sounded like pouring a glass of soda).

S- The first thing I get is cherries and raisins. Then some spices like thyme and mint. Maybe a little pine mixed in. As it sits longer I get more molasses and some general maltiness.

T- Dark black cherry soda. Vanilla, molasses, and caramel as well. Hints of roasted malt and alcohol linger in the mouth after the swallow. Once again, a very sweet beer.

M- Smooth. Not as highly carbonated as I feared. I would probably call this a full bodied beer, but not very full compared to some other imperial stouts.

D- A pretty drinkable imperial stout.

Overall, a nice beer. The nose was quite interesting, and gets points for some originality. Not a typical imperial stout. Has a fruitness that makes this lean towards a belgian imperial stout in my mind. In the same category as black albert, IMO.

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Photo of jsanford
3.57/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On-tap at the Pisgah Brewery in Asheville on 5/29/10

A - Inky black with a thin & creamy tan head

S - Roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, cherry

T - Sweet. Roasted malt, coffee, lots of molasses, especially as it warm up. Boozy.

M - Medium bodied, really nice carbonation.

D - Not so hot. The molasses flavor got extremely cloying about 2/3 through my glass, definitely a sipper. Too bad, I was really looking forward to this one.

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Photo of John_M
4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewery the other day.

V2 pours a very dark brown color with good head retention and lacing. Nose is an attractive blend of burnt toast, coffee and dark chocolate. The beer is even more impressive on the palate, showing considerable coffee, vanilla and hazelnut on a moderately sweet frame. This beer is very nicely balanced, and despite the alcohol and full flavor, did not seem the least bit heavy or tiring on the palate. The finish was long and smooth, with a lightness I found remarkable. While I can't imagine drinking a lot of this, I thought overall that drinkability was very good in this beer.


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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

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Photo of mullenite
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
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.

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Photo of thegodfather2701
3.9/5  rDev -2%
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.

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Photo of Tilley4
2.98/5  rDev -25.1%
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...

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.01/5  rDev -24.4%
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.

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Photo of tr4nc3d
3.1/5  rDev -22.1%
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!!!

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Photo of AgentZero
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
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.

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Vortex II from Pisgah Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 148 ratings.