Vortex II | Pisgah Brewing Co.

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Vortex IIVortex II
268 Ratings
Vortex IIVortex II

Brewed by:
Pisgah Brewing Co.
North Carolina, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.70%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by mikesgroove on 06-25-2007

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 268 |  Reviews: 149
Photo of maximum12
1.93/5  rDev -51.9%
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 drumenigma
2/5  rDev -50.1%

Photo of olradetbalder
2.35/5  rDev -41.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Botteled 2009.
Probably the best infected beer I have ever had.

Look great, sparkning like hell and from there it is a sour treat with some raspberrys mixed with some cherries in coffee.
To bad this is not the what the beer is all about.

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Photo of dtx00
2.5/5  rDev -37.7%

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.

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Photo of johnnnniee
2.58/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I’ve had this bottle in the basement for two years or so and tonight for Todd’s fortieth seemed like the prefect time to pop this one. She poured a solid black with a monstrous tan head that took forever to recede. From the first pop of the cap we are disappointed with the beer. There’s an earthy funky fruity aroma with a hint of roast that fills my nostrils. The flavor is tart and fruity with a bit of nasty funk. Medium to light body with an insane level of carbonation and a slick tart mouthfeel. Obviously there is something wrong with this bottle, and I’m quite disappointed I’ve held on to this so long. So my first Pisgah beer is infected, well that sucks.

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Photo of yourefragile
2.64/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle served in a snifter.

Pours a dark molasses brown with a large frothy mocha head that quickly dissipates with minimal lace. Tart, berry, tang, etc dominate the aroma with light cocoa and roast malt in the background. Flavor is more of the same, tart berries and mild vinegar sourness up front but not quite as strong as the aroma. From mid palate to the finish with the non infected, horrible parts of the stout. The finish is actually pleasant and long lasting with cocoa, roast malt, and dark chocolate. Bummer, this beer could have been nice.

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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.

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Photo of Ryan011235
2.78/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a Delirium tulip on 2/6/12

9/11 noted on the bottle

Procured for MbpBugeye with thanks to PDXHops

A) Dark brown; almost murky with a sandy brown head of nearly one finger. Thin, wispy retention. Some drippy lace, too.

S) Peanut and earthy backwoods aromas. Cooked grains - similar to oats. Notes of cracker and unsweetened cocoa, the latter being very mild. Some dark sugar overtones. Doesn't smell sweet though. This is really weird.

T) Decent showing of roasted coffee with dry layer of burnt chocolate. Plump grain notes which I like. Nearly charred with earthy overtones. Some booze peppers the back half.

M) Medium-full body. Soft viscosity with underpinnings of grittiness. Moderately low carbonation. A little alcohol tingle. I like the feel.

O) This would make a decent year-round offering. For a limited release? Not so much.

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Photo of biglite351
2.78/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Considerable red around the edges with a short tight light brown head.

S - Light scent overall; malt and sour prune

T - Candied chocolate, old prune, malt and something that I can not put my finger on.

M - Thick but only a medium coating and only a hint of tingle on front of tongue.

O - Not really up to snuff. Pass probably.

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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.

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Photo of prototypic
2.91/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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

Bottle dated January, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of pixieskid
2.95/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Given to me by my cousin as part of a wedding present; didn't have the chance to try it while stateside so I brought it back to France. Didn't know anything about it but was happy to try it, looks as if this one is fairly well known/of interest. Unfortunately, it seems I got a bad bottle...it was a drainpour.

Pours proper stout black with a decent tan/offwhite head.

Nose, roasty and cardboard like; uh oh.

Taste; muddled roasty and chocolate, cardboard and a hint of cherries.

Mouthfeel; a little syrupy and thin but at almost 12% that is understandable.

Overall; always a bummer when this happens, I hate lugging bottles that end up having problems. Took the proper precautions I always do when traveling with beer, so seems like I just got an oxidized bottle, bummer.

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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...

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Photo of HopHead84
3/5  rDev -25.2%

Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
3/5  rDev -25.2%

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.

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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

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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.

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Photo of brew3crew
3.06/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Par of the epic tasting at jackie o's with brad and crew

2008 vintage thanks to normyk

A-dark brown almost black with a thin tan head
S-very tangy smell. Little bit like its infected
T-this is infected. Very tangy and just a shell of a ris
m-medium body and smooth
O-decent beer but terrible for the style. Drink this now!

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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!!!

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Photo of mattsmith413
3.12/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Way off base...it had soured...great sour if that was what I bought.

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Photo of babaracas
3.14/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

For the 2010 version in the bottle. Pours a reddish very dark brown with thin fizzy tan head. Insta-fade, no lace left on the glass. Smell: boozy, raisin, fig, cola. Sugary with a very slight roastiness. Taste: black plum, raisin, cola, caramelized sugar, pumpernickel note. Trademark earthy Pisgah hopping. Light but creamy carbonation, sweet with an earthy finish. 2.5, 3.5, 3.0, 3.5, 3.0. Actually enjoyable, but still not a particularly good RIS.

This is for the aged 2009 version on-tap at Pisgah recently. Opaque super-dark brown, thin khaki head, spotty lacing. Smell: sourish house yeast character, earthy, mild roast, sweet. Diacetyl as it warms. Taste: medium roast, apple, toffee, sweet. Lots of odd yeast flavor. A little booze in the nose but none in the taste, mellow drinker. Not a good RIS, better labeled as an Old Ale. Really quite odd and unexpected. 3.0, 2.5, 2.5, 3.5, 2.5.

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Photo of jegross2
3.15/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewing the Vortex II from Pisgah Brewing Company. This bottle is two years old.

Score: 61

01/09 vintage bottle served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 01/19/12. You can see my roommate in the background!

Appearance: Mostly opaque dark brown, almost black, color with red/caramel highlights at the top of the glass when held up to light. Pours maybe one finger of bubbly/creamy dark tan head that settles into a decent lacing. 3.5/5

Smell: Lots of tart berries fruit here, which is not right because this is a Russian Imperial Stout. This one has to be infected. Interestingly, however, the infection makes the aroma interesting for a sour ale. The front of the nose is a little pungently sour, but then it mellows out into a pleasantly tart berries and fruit aroma with some light chocolate in the background. 3.5/5

Taste: Taste confirms infection. This is now a sour ale, and not a very bad one either. Not puckeringly sour. Flavor is mostly sour berries mixed with light amounts of semi-sweet chocolate. Some tart fruit in there too. Finish is lingering sour berries. Gag reflex is triggered at some point as it approached room temperature. 2/5

Mouthfeel: Light-medium bodied, high-medium carbonation. Sour, but not puckering, finish. 3/5

Overall: An infected Russian Imperial Stout turned into a decent sour ale while cold, but I did not like this warm.

Recommendation: I cannot say whether the beer is normally worth trying, as this is my first experience with Vortex II, but an infected bottle is not worth seeking out.

Pairings: Chocolate cake (the infected berries and chocolate flavor would pair well).

Cost: Unknown.

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Photo of mabermud
3.17/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This one did not pique my interest. I was not impressed.

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Vortex II from Pisgah Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.01 out of 5 with 268 ratings