Vortex I
Pisgah Brewing Co.

Vortex IVortex I
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IPA - Imperial
Ranked #2,260
Ranked #6,885
4.04 | pDev: 11.63%
Pisgah Brewing Co.
North Carolina, United States
Vortex IVortex I
Reviews: 132 | Ratings: 185 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by JohnnyK:
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JohnnyK from North Carolina

2.5/5  rDev -38.1%

Nov 14, 2013
More User Reviews:
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oberon from North Carolina

4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottled on 10/24/13.An Imperial IPA per label, as well as 9.2%ABV..Pours into an oversized wine glass a dull burnt orange infuse golden with a tightly formed white head atop.Aromas of caramel malts and tropical fruit-like hops,not much bitterness detected.A wave of tropical fruits coats the mouth on every sip of this beer,Iam not sure if I have had a beer with such a tropical element.Mango,peach,and overripe pineapple are dominant over top of a mildy sweet caramel base,the alcohol is there but not in your face.A great DIPA from Black Mountain,Iam gonna visit the brewery here in a few weeks,lookin forward to it.

Nov 16, 2013
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Bitterbill from Wyoming

3.72/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Purchased from Bruisin' Ales.

It pours a hazy amber red with a huge head of foam. Hey, I just got it today and stuck it in the fridge for about an hour so it wasn't a big surprise re the foam. It is very billowy and does not want to recede at all. Too much foam to check on the lacing right now.

The smell is bitter, sweet, lightly spicy, some fruitiness but the main thing is the caramel malt sweetness. The nose I like.

The taste starts off really hoppy...can't taste any citrus at this point, more of a piney bitterness and just plain bitterness that I can't really give a label to. The malt adds some caramel sweetness but not much. It smelled more balanced than what it tastes. A light spiciness is there though I can't taste any of the fruitiness I noted in the smell. Overall, it is quite the bitter DIPA. Maybe a bit too bitter for my liking. No, not maybe. The alcohol? That's not obtrusive at all so I say yay to that.

Medium mouthfeel with low to medium carbonation; the carbo seems to vary with every sip.

Drinkability? I already said I thought it was too bitter for my liking. I said the abv was well hidden. It's a tug of war between the 2 and I have to cast my vote for the following: to me, it isn't all that drinkable. The bitterness overwhelms me and I just can't settle down and enjoy this brew. Oh well. Others love it so take my perpective on this one with a grain of salt. As always.

Jun 30, 2009
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lackenhauser from Maryland

4.21/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Very nice coppery color with a huge head that lasts and lasts. Every pour from the 22 ounce bottle gives me a load of foam. It settled like whip cream on top of the beer itself. Rather low aroma. Hoppy but not much else going on. I wonder if the foam is keeping something down. Big ole hop blast flavor wise-sticky pine-like flavors. Resiny. Sweet malt and caramel to back it all up. No alcohol heat or presence here. Sticky and sweet mouthfeel. Lingering hop bitterness on the back of the tongue. Just a great, great beer all around. The lack of aroma does nothing to knock it down. Great flavor and mouthfeel make for a most enjoyable beer. Well worth having again and again.

May 18, 2009
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tjthresh from Indiana

3.58/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours very hazed, orangey brown with a dense foamy light brown head. The nose is candy seet with a grapefruit rind. Same grapefruit flavor with sweet muddled malt flavors. Thick syrupy body with a sweet finish. Good, but it doesn't compare with the top of the style.

Apr 13, 2009
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brewandbbq from New Hampshire

3.68/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle.

Pours dark copper with an amber hue and a chill haze. A quarter inch of off-white dissapated to a partial skim coat with a few dots of lacing.

Aromatics lead off with candied malt, toffee, caramel, and a hint of cardboard. Some subdued citrus and pine suggests what it was at one time.

Medium bodied with a sticky, chewy mouthfeel. Gummy and sticky.

Toffee-laced malt, pine-rubbed raisins, and butterscotch starts the palate. Warming alcohol and a nod of bitterness tries to win over the sweet malt. A mild level of resinous hops follows through.

Finishes with plenty of candied malt, warming alcohol, and lingering cardboard.

Past prime for sure. Still sweet with plenty of oxidation mixed in.

Jun 08, 2010
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mntlover from Tennessee

4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy amber color with sediment present from bottle conditioning. Big fluffy cream colored head from an aggressive pour, lots of lace left behind my pint.

Aroma is good fruity citrus hops orange, apricot, grapefruit riding on a caramel base. Wonderful fresh and hoppy.

Taste is nice good malty caramel covered apples, nice citrus notes mixed with herbal medicine notes. Brew is nice big malty loads of caramel notes mingled with hop flavors. Finish is lingering caramel citrus grapefruit rind and herbal notes.

Mouthfeel is big full medium with nice medium carbonation.

Drinkability is good the best brew i have had from Pisgah and would like another. Tasty I2PA would recommend trying it if you can.

Jun 29, 2009
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akorsak from Pennsylvania

3.75/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Deuane and Kegatron for this 650 mL bomber.

A: Before I get to the beer, I'd like to praise Pisgah for their beautiful bottle artwork. Each that I've had is a visually pleasing work. The ale itself is rather dark for a DIPA, a brown amber color that is opaque. A bright orange hue shines through at the base of the glass. A decent-sized head has laced extensively around to top of the glass.

S: The ale's hop profile is thick and treacly, mixing with the malts to create a barleywine-esque aroma. I do pick up a green, vegetal citrus hop aroma initially. I think that the key is to allow the ale to warm.

T: The taste is full and hoppy. The bitterness is intense up front, sharp and citrusy with a cracked pepper heat. Late in each sip, a hearty caramel body emerges to stand out, finishing each sip. As the ale continues to warm, pine and spicy hops continue to emerge. The ale is very deceiving when cold, so please allow it to warm. As it warms, the hops don't become more vibrant but the flavor evolves to support both malt and hop.

M: The mouthfeel is well-balanced, giving both hops and malts equal showtime. This is more subtle and nuanced than most DIPAs, a real think piece of a beer.

D: After one bottle, I'm not sold yet. The hops seem too reserved to be a double IPA but they do make vast leaps as the beer warms. Interesting, I'll have to check back in.

Jun 07, 2009
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merlin48 from Kentucky

4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber pours a slightly hazed copper/orange body with a gushing ecru hued head that immediately becomes pitted and rocky. The head gradually settles into a handsome, lasting meringue.

Aroma opens with a fruity/floral orange blossom that segues into fruity pink grapefruit, Valencia orange, and pineapple marmelade. Pine needle notes add an inviting edge.

Mouthfeel is slightly sticky, with a medium body and carbonation.

Taste highlights a bitter and earthy hoppiness, with notes of pine, orange blossom, and pink grapefruit. Chewy caramel malt backbone adds a nice spine. Plenty of leafy hops in the finish.

Highly enjoyable. This North Carolina DIPA is one I wish I could stock in my fridge on a regular basis. Thanks to mntlover for bringing this by.

Jun 07, 2009
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John_M from Oregon

3.91/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Barley's today.

The beer pours a copper amber color with good head retention and lots of sticky lacing all around. I don't really understand the nose on this beer, which is pretty mute. There is some noticeable dank earth and bitter citrus, but it's pretty faint and is not nearly as expressive as I was expecting. On the palate, this is a much more impressive beer. While there is some considerable hoppy bitterness, that bitterness is balanced very nicely by a considerable amount of sweet malt. Yet it's not overdone; the beer is not too sweet and malty, and is ultimately dominated by the hoppy bitterness (though not overly so). Mouthfeel is medium bodied and fairly long, but the beer is not the least bit heavy or tiring on the palate. Considering this beer's abv., I was impressed by its balance and drinkability.

Not bad at all...

May 31, 2010
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BuckeyeNation from Iowa

3.2/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Fiery topaz with apricot juice highlights. An extremely loud 'pfft' on crown cracking and the instantaneous creation of a huge head on the pour indicate an overabundance of bubbles. Pisgah Pale Ale had the same problem. The golden sand colored foam is mousse-like and does a decent job laying down lace.

Considering the fact that the brewery considers this brew to be a (quote) triple (unquote) IPA and has packed 133 IBU's worth of hops into each mouthful, the nose is something of a letdown. It's caramel malty and is only moderately hoppy, with very little in the way of lupulin personality.

So this is the mighty Vortex I, king of hoppy beer everywhere (or at least in the state of North Carolina)? Something must have happened on the way to the coronation because there isn't much good hop flavor in evidence. Buzzsaw bitterness we got. Less than expertly buried alcohol we also got. The fact that it was brewed 5/09 makes this big bruiser all the more disappointing.

I was unable to determine specific ingredients, but the malt is most likely pale, crystal and Munich. Two of the four hops are Chinook and Nugget, although again, neither one backs up its alpha acid attack with anything approaching juicy hop flavor. Bitterness is only part of the equation when it comes to IPAs and DIPAs... and the least important part at that.

It's tempting to think that something might have gone wrong and that this bomber is not as the brewers intended. At least I hope it isn't. I'm sure it's part of who they are, but I would seriously rethink the decision to use organic ingredients. Man oh man, below average taste and drinkability scores are pretty tempting.

Now that mid-bomber has been reached, the bubbles aren't that buzzy. In fact, they're right about where they need to be. With respect to size, the mouthfeel is more IPA-like than DIPA-like. That's okay, but I expected something with a little more substance.

Even though it isn't quite Angostura Bitters and Absolut, Vortex I is one of the most disappointing DIPAs that I've had in quite some time. North Carolina is full of outstanding craft breweries. Unfortunately, from what I've tasted so far, Pisgah cannot be counted among them.

Jun 24, 2009
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Sammy from Canada (ON)

4.18/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours very thick head that leaves very thick lace, on grapefruit body. Aroma is hoppy, not crazy hoppy. Chinook, Nugget, very well malted. 130 IBU rated but not feeling that at all, well done. Grapefruit,some tangerine, very tasty. Dangerously drinkable.Bomber gone, 20 minutes. Smooth creamy mouthfeel. Called triple pale, and that's what it is.Thanks for talking me into it, Dr. Jay. From Bruisin' Ales.

Apr 30, 2009
WOLFGANG from South Carolina

4/5  rDev -1%

Jul 22, 2013
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RickS95 from Indiana

4.02/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber with a thick head. The head starts off strong, but gradually slows down though it never goes away. You can tell the lacing is going to be killer because as the head pulls away from the sides, the glass is still covered.

I liked the smell from the start. The hops give you that nice citrusy scent. Flowery notes are also present.

The taste is similar to the smell. The citrus is obviously, but theres also a malty sweetness to keep the earthy hop flavors in check.

You could never call a triple pale ale smooth in the mouth, but for the type, this is as smooth as I've had. It's clearly hoppy, but the malts subdue everything

Despite ridiculous alcohol and being a triple IPA, this is pretty easy to drink. I love the citrus flavor and as mentioned a couple times, the malts take all the hoppy bite away and make this go down easy.

Oct 30, 2010
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brentk56 from North Carolina

3.65/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber with a massive head, despite a careful pour; lots of stickage and lace, on the positive side

Smell: Pine and citrus, with a undertone of caramel

Taste: Caramel malt backbone that is quickly assaulted by the piney hop flavors; some pithy citrus, too, but this is just really, really bitter; after the swallow, the bitterness overwhelms the malts, although there is some residual sweetness in there that doesn't blend particularly well

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with high carbonation

Drinkability: Frankly, a bit over the top for these tastebuds

Jul 14, 2009
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DrJay from Texas

4.77/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to mikesgroove for sending me a growler of this gem. Review #1400!
The growler gave a loud pop when opened - good sign. A big cap of fluffy, beige foam appeared after the pour with lots of fine bubbles cascading to the surface. The cap settled to a thick collar and skim of bubbles rather quickly, but this stuck around until the end. Sticky spots of lacing clung to the glass. The beer itself was hazy and an interesting bronze colour, sort of a burnt orange with a reddish hue. The aroma was very fruity, lots of pineapple sweetness and citrus character, with mild pine and spice adding depth. Malt aroma was just a bit of biscuit and caramel, and was only apparent as it warmed. Awesome balance starting with the first sip. This is a big beer and the hop and malt profiles have been masterfully combined. Bitterness was strong and solid without being aggressive or harsh. Hops and fruit flavours built onto this, with grapefruit and pineapple dominating, pine playing a supporting role. Malt sweetness kept the bitterness in check and added depth, consisting of rich caramel notes and biscuity grain. Everything stayed balanced in the finish too, with lingering bitterness and a hint of spicy alcohol playing nicely with the fruity sweetness and citrusy hops. Full bodied with a warming tingle of alcohol and fine, well integrated carbonation that made for a smooth, creamy texture. Easily one of my favourites in this style and super drinkable considering the abv. There was enough complexity to keep it interesting, bold flavours that challenged the palate, but an amazing balance that held everything together. Delicious!

Jul 27, 2008
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Viggo from Canada (ON)

3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle, thanks to grub for sharing!

Pours a cloudy orange/amber, thick off white head forms and settles down to a thick ring and layer around the glass, some lace spots stick, looks pretty good.

Smell is nice, big and resiny, very hoppy, pine and tangerine, some pine, alcohol, very sweet and malty, caramelized, biscuit, pretty big fruit character, some apples and pears, a pretty intense and rough hop char, acter, some herbal/medicinal.

Taste is similar, sweet up front, some caramel and biscuit, some grapefruit, resin, pine, alcohol, some floral, some big maltiness through the middle, a little rough, bit herbal bitterness, not too bad.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low to medium carbonation. Some warmth going down. Not bad but a pretty rough hop character. Thanks Russ.

Apr 23, 2010
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kwakwhore from North Carolina

4.38/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Online purchase from Bruisin' Ales in Asheville.
Clear copper pour into a Duvel Tulip. Cream colored head subsides fairly quickly with a ring of lace around the top of the glass.
Initial fragrant bloom of honeyish aromas subsides into something more suggestive of hops.
Hops are upfront in the flavor but there is a surprisingly prominent shot of sweet malt followed by a long bitter finish.
While there is a syrupy feel to this beer, the mouthfeel is lighter than one might expect.
The alcohol in this beer is well masked, surprisingly so for 10.80% abv. I'm sure it will catch up to me by the end of the bomber, but so far so good.
While this beer is listed as an American Strong Ale, it could also be placed in the Imperial/Double IPA category as the bottle calls it a triple pale ale. Whatever it is called, it is very good and well worth the extra trouble of having it shipped.

Feb 15, 2010
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RustyDiamond from Georgia

4.47/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at Bruisin Ales recently...9.8% ABV on label. Huge air pop when I opened the bottle cap. First pour was all head, which eventually settled down (probably my fault). Deep copper/mahogany color with a nice cream colored frothy head. Wicked complex aroma of spearmint, pine needles and spruce tips. Super chewy up front with a slight hint of melon. My teeth are already coated with piney hop fluoride. Alcohol blended nicely between the fragrant earthy hop flavor and the perfumy bitterness. Somehow, I got some fruit on the back end with the bitterness...perhops sweet nectarine? Very big DIPA yet very interesting and fairly easy drinking.

Apr 29, 2009
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.36/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Who says the South doesn't have good beer? This beer challenges that notion head on.

The pour begins with an ever-expanding head that forms quickly and sorta takes over. Very mousse-like and very sturdy in formaiton and retention. Lots of lacing left behind. The color is the standard copper-golden and with typical dry-hopped haze. An outstanding look.

Very bold aromas of pine with backup notes of citrus, tropical fruits, and caramelized malts. As the beer warms, the hops reveal a musty, earthy, pungent scent that is stuck somewhere between complexity and distracting.

Flavors leave behind the earthy, dirty notes and begin to favor the pine, citrus, and tropical fruit flavors. Shortly behind are the caramelized maltiness that takes on a graham cracker taste without heavy sweetness. Very clean flavored with a lot of varying hop flavor going on.

Great attenuation makes the beer very malty without heaviness or leaving residual sweetness on the palate. Full and round, the malts support the resiny hops and allows the memory of the beer to linger well into the aftertaste. Quite dry and warming late; maybe too hot at times. But never astringent or bitey despite the 10%+ abv.

This beer is right there with great Imperial IPA's. What differentiates this is the rich and complex hop profile that gives a dirty, earthy nose that is memorable, if not overwhelming. And those alcohols get hotter as the beer continues to warm- powerful stuff here.

May 08, 2009
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FtownThrowDown from Ohio

3.49/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of GFord217.
Pours a cloudy dark amber in color. The entire glass is foamy head. About two inches of the bottom of my glass is beer, then about 5-6 inches of all foam. This can't be right?! After leaving it on the counter to settle for 5-10 minutes, I pour more and proceed to my chair. Smell is some funky hops, and a bunch of malt. Pretty balanced beer. Taste is very balanced, but I'm missing the hop blast that was expected. One thing about this beer, you never get any idea that it is over 10%. The rest of the bomber left even more head than the first half. Plus a bunch of cloudiness and floaties suspended in the beer. Very full and creamy in the mouthfeel. I don't think anything was "off" with this beer, but it's far from a triple IPA. Decent beer, but one is more than enough at that abv.

Apr 23, 2009
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SaCkErZ9 from South Carolina

3.28/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass. This beer was nothing but foam. I hate when that happens. I had to wait about 10 minutes for the head to die enough to take a sip. The head is dense and rocky but I dont like that much foam on my beer.

Aroma was tangy and a bit sour. Piney and somewhat lemony. I cant get over the sticky, tangy aroma.

This actually tasted alright. Hoppy ad bitter but not overly. Even a solid dose of chocolate in the flavor profile. Caramel as well.

The alcohol is very well hidden but this is way too carbonated. Fizzy and foamy in my mouth which I dont like in an IPA. If this beer was so carbonated, it could be really good. As it is, it is below average all things considered.

May 13, 2009
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CHADMC3 from Connecticut

4.16/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours an amber brown body beneath the rich tan head which dissolves somewhat quickly but leaves a constant ring of lacing floating atop the body and clinging to the glass.

Wow, those are some fresh pungent hops as this was bottled on 9/30/13. Primarily consisting of pine and herbal or floral aromas. Its like the a lumberjack and a florist decided to brew a beer together. Burried in there as well is a nice biscuit or bread like malt which I am assuming has to be a pretty decent helping to off-set this hop monster.

The floral and pine hops just coat the palate through and through and similar to the aroma the biscuit like malt is sitting in the background, yet pleasantly apparent.

This is a tongue buckler all the way with a medium to fuller body and medium carbonation leading up to the robust bitter finish.

This is really a huge beer as the heartier hop profile backed by the generous organic malts packs into this chewy brew. Huge character, well put together and tons to tease the senses.

Nov 18, 2013
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blackie from Oregon

4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a: not a "gusher" as in erupting out of the bottle, but even the most gentle pour generates a thick, meringue-like head that makes pouring a bit of a chore, but looks damn good atop a hazy, deep amber beer, heavy lace

s: heavy pine hop aroma carries undertones of dried grapefruit rind supported by an earthy caramel malt body, some light date puree, great sugar/ester/hop balance, moderate alcohol presence adds a spicy sweetness

m: creamy carbonation on the high side of the medium range, medium body

t: earthy caramel malt body with a high bitterness running through, much potential here but the hop flavor is lacking - pine needles most prominent

d: easy drinkability given the high abv

bomber from Bruisin' in Asheville after a recent camping trip, split in Reston with the dirtman

Jun 19, 2009
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Derek from Canada (BC)

4.05/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Copper-amber with an off-white head, good retention & lacing (especially considering the weight).

S: Huge piny nose, apricot, tangerine, nectarine. It's got the aroma of hops that've been boiled for 90 minutes or so... but it's got plenty of resiny, weed-like hop oils as well.

T: This one's a palate bruiser. In a blind tasting of 4, this one ranked dead last... though I actually liked it. Very assertive bitterness: pine, tangerine, apricot & a grassiness one might describe as liquid-reefer; dark toffee & warming alcohol.

M: Well attenuated, moderately-full body, off-dry finish.

D: Pretty bold.

Jun 14, 2009
Vortex I from Pisgah Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 185 ratings