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:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 268 |  Reviews: 149
Photo of srandycarter
4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - A very dark brown near black. Lots of tan head, reduces to disk then ring. Lots of sudsy small bubbled lacing.

S - Milk chocolate and coffee.

T - As smell, but add chalky Cocoa to the start. Where others balk, I enjoy the sweeter chocolate finish.

M - Medium to light body, pretty carbed, good coating.

D - Well masked and easy to drink. Like this one.

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Photo of rhinos00
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to ROBORB and kkipple for sending this one my way. Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into oversized wine glass.

A - Pours a midnight black. Absolutely no visibility. Produces two fingers width of mocha colored head. Little bit of lacing as the beer is consumed.

S- Imagine a hershey's kiss melted down and then mixed with some mild coffee beans. Little bit of sweetness from the chocolate malts. If the aroma was a little more pungent it would have been a winner.

T- Initially there is a nice steady presence of chocolate malts. The interesting part, which I actually enjoyed, was that there was a non-roasted coffee presence in the taste. Combine that with the chocolate and you got a pretty good tasting beer. Unfortunately the finish to this beer is really disappointing. Way too sweet. Almost as if someone poured a couple packets of sugar into my beer when I wasn't looking.

M- Just wasn't my cup of tea. Very thin for a RIS. Some carbonation and leaves a semi-dry feeling on the palate.

D- The thin mouthfeel does disguise the 11% abv really well. However, the sweet aftertaste really takes away from the drinkability.

Overall, this is the 2nd Pisgah offering I have had and I have found them both to be very underwhelming. This beer had potential as I did like the chocolate/coffee fusion, but it was just too sweet in the finish.

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Photo of damienblack
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Mucho thanks to Loki for this beer in trade!

Pours a thick (but not as thick as most) dark brown, nice huge frothy tan head. Leaves some cool lacing. Smell... well, I'm not getting much of an aroma. Faint coffee. Disappointing here. Taste, well, let's just say this isn't a typical RIS. It's sweet. It's very sweet. To me, it tastes like coffee yogurt. Sweet, and coffee-like, and not very roasty at all. No bite, no kick, no roastiness. This works for me. It makes for a nice little sipper, at the cost of body and wholeness. It's way thinner than a typical Imperial Stout, I'd go so far as to say that the body reminds me more of a belgian, Strong Dark or Quad. It hides the alcohol very well, though. Almost no trace of it. The bottle is easy to put back. I like my Imperial Stouts on the roastier side (also with a bit of sweetness, though), so this would not be a full-time gig for me. But it was great to try and experience.

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Photo of dirtylou
3.93/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber, no bs IV

review #1k

appearance: served in a snifter, big bold opaque body, creamy fizzy chocolate cap with full lacing. yum

smell: sweet and chewy aroma, rich caramel, sweet chocolate, tobacco, licorice, burnt sugars

taste: interesting RIS from the folks at pisgah - sweeter than maybe any imperial stout out there...blackberry, fig, plum, burnt sugar, molassess, cake-like chocolate. alcohol comes through a bit hot...solid beer but a little rough around the edges - overly sweet and a tad boozy

mouthfeel: creamy, medium body, lingering hop bitterness

drinkability: could be better

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Photo of KeefD
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Uh oh... An organic RIS?? I have not had a single organic beer yet that I've enjoyed. Poured into a tulip glass. Dark brown with a large creamed coffee colored head that left some light lacing. Chocolate, caramel and coffee in the nose, not overly complex. Flavor is mostly chocolate and burnt caramel, lightly roasted coffee in the background, toasty roasted malts, slight alcohol burn on the tail end. Nothing really special about this one. I'm still finding it hard for anything that's hard to get to compete with the old standby Expedition Stout. In fact, I judge most imperial stouts off of that standard, and this one just doesn't live up to it. Still tasty though. Mouthfeel is a little lacking, not quite as thick and viscous as I normally enjoy from an RIS. Good stuff, and was glad to have had the chance to try it, thanks to JCB!

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Photo of RustyDiamond
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Super damn black-as-night pour into a Duvel tulip. Honeycomb looking mocha foamy head. Lots of activity going on here...like the tulip is breathing lava while slowly dissipating into the liquid. Nice glowing mocha ring mid-glass...quite nice looking.
Touch of smoke detected in the aroma, citrus hops, maytag blue, chocolate dipped strawberries. Intoxicating.
Sticky sweetness in the front. Rock candy...fruity? Hoppy too...really nice. Blackberry, plum flavor surrounding the hops. Creamy sweet mouthfeel. Touch of roasty bitter in the back, with a hit of smoke. All delicately put together, very nice and super easy drinking.

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Photo of cbros
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving type- Had a full pour from the brewery into a Pisgah Pint glass.

A- Pours a deep black with a nice one finger tan colored lace. Good cling to the glass throughout the beer.

S- Good coffee notes mixed well with chocolate and the roasted malts.

T- The bartender reommended that I try this one last and now I see why. This is a powerful and extremely tasty beer. You get a great chocolate and roasted malt presence right from the start. Its smooth going down and its high ABV makes this a beer that can get someone in trouble.

I had this at the Pisgah Brewery and I am very grateful to have tasted this before it is gone. This is a very impressive RIS and I hope that it makes a come back in some form in the future. Great taste arrangment makes for a superior taste experience.

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Photo of mynie
4.72/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Mad ups to marvin213 for supplying "the goods." I sampled a little bit of this at DLD and said it was nearly as good as Dark Lord and that it was a shame that it was so unknown. That was after I hadn't had any DL in over a year, mind, and once that vanilla bean goodness passed my lips I repented my blasphemy and swore to make things right with a proper review.

First of all, that's an awesome bottle right there. I smoked enough pot in high school to know the difference between good blacklight poster art and bad blacklight poster art. This is the good stuff. Maybe not sound in a hoity-toity artschool sense but really fun to look at while you're under the influence.

Pours nearly as good as Dark Lord. Dark, opaque blackness with a small and quickly dissolving head. Inky.

Smells rich, smooth, and wooden. Vinous tartness like a bright red wine, a surprising dose of west coast hops, and the comfortable burn of alcohol.

Tastes beery. That's a strange thing to say, I know, but usually RISes taste like wine or fruit or fire. This tastes like beer malt. That moves into a wine dark middle of fire and stout grain and it ends with a sour hoppiness that sticks in your mouth like gum on a shoe.

Nice. Underrated. Well worth seeking out.

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Photo of evantwomey
3.43/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with ruby highlights, light tan head which quickly recedes to a ring leaving little lacing. Aroma is cherry, tobacco, with minimal roast or hop presence. A little estery, maybe some faint chocolate. Little alcohol nose. Actually smells a little 'Belgian-y'.Taste is some more cherry, some bright maltiness, little roast, almost nothing in the way of hops (a good thing). I'm picking up some vanilla too. Finish is just right- not too sweet, not too dry. The main thing that hurts this beer is a lingering, slightly acrid aftertaste, a little like coffee that's been left on the heater too long. I like the fact that they left the hops in the background though, for me hops clash in an imperial stout. Mouthfeel is pretty mediocre, not as viscous as I was hoping. I'd say the alcohol is relatively well hidden, but the slightly odd aftertaste hurts the drinkability a bit.

Overall, I miss the roast flavors, thick mouthfeel, and deep malt taste I am used to in an RIS. This is a solid brew but I'd place it behind the imperial stouts brewed by Founders and Stone.

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Photo of Sean9689
4.07/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bomber into my DFH snifter.

A - Black as night with a tan head that disipitates and leaves a tan ring around the rim of the glass.

S - Lots of chocolate, coffee, toffee...basically awesomeness! I cannot get a hint of the 11.7% ABV in there, wow, I'm impressed.

T - First off, too much carbonation for me. After the carbonation, it's really damn good. Chocolate, coffee, just really rich and good. Without all the carbonation, this is awesome.

M - Medium-full in body, really nice and rich. Too much carbonation for me.

D - So easy to think, it's crazy. The 11.7% ABV is not even noticeable. I really great RIS as long as I can get past the carbonation issue.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.38/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

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Photo of objectivemonkey
4.16/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Into my Duvel glass, pours pitch black, thick, with a nice thick and creamy tan head, good staying power, nice lacing. Aroma is thick with malt, chocolate liqueur, cocoa, dark pruned fruits, but ultimately not strong enough, I had to grasp at straws to unveil even that much.

Much stronger taste, quite delicious. Lots of chocolates, cocoas, milk chocolates, fruits through the middle and a drying, husky malt into the finish. The mouth is thick, slick, creamy and smooth, quite nice to drink. Don't let it warm too much, it gets a bit too fruity after its warmed, imo. In sum, worth the search if you can get your hands on one. Thanks to heliosphann for this one.

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


Pours a deep dark black with a coffee colored head.

Aroma is very nice. Lots of dark fruit, liquorish, chocolate and big roasted malts. I really could smell this one all day.
Taste is really nice...big caramel flavors, roasted malts, chocolate and dark fruits. As it warms a ton of flavors come out, its very complex. The mouthfeel is thick and really wonderful. Great beer all around.

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Photo of stoutfiend27
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber brought home from the source

a-black with nice ruby highlights..dark khaki espresso colored head that diminshed quickly..little lacing here as well

s-sweet caramel and sugary, nice hops in the nose and coffee and liquorice

t-liquorice and caramel then molasses and coffee...then a little hop bitterness and chocolate in the end...the alcohol is so very well hidden in the brew it is unbelievable ...

m-not quite as thick as most ris but i think it does this brew justice and lets the flavors flow without feeling like its weighing you down...im all about thick and chewy but i think its just right with this brew..nice carbonation and prickly feel from this bottle..

d-id be safe to say i could have two 22oz bombers of this in a night if it were more readily available...but a 11.7% it could be dangerous but it has so much flavor going on it keeps bringing me back sip by sip..love it

this is a fantastic ris from the folks at pisgah...im glad i have two more bottles to age and see how it changes..top notch

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Photo of alcstradamus
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A--Pours pitch black with no highlights when held up to the light. Caramel colored head about 2 fingers tall and recedes moderately quickly. Almost no lacing left.

S--Raisins, figs, caramel, chocolate, some very distant traces of bourbon and wood, vanilla, maybe even a little tropical fruit mixed in here somewhere. A wonderfully complex aroma

T--Upon first sip I am immediately hit with a very unpleasant metallic taste. Hopefully it is just because it is too cold, I am going to let it sit for 10 minutes before continuing this review...ok, now after a little warming the metallic taste is just barely there. Its still unfortunate that there is ANY, but I now have to really search for it to find it. This is a fantastic beer though. The flavors are a delicate balance of pretty much everything I mentioned in the smell, except the bourbon. The vanilla and caramel are probably dominant, but not by much. There is a good hop bitterness to balance it on the back end. Word of caution: this gets better and better as the temperature rises so DO NOT drink this at refrigerator temperature.

M--Medium bodied for the style but slightly to much carbonation. Gives a little bit more of a prickle in the tongue and lips than I want with my stouts, but there is enough creaminess underneath to satisfy

D--Goes down very well for a 12% beer.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by RoyMunson.

Pours black in color with a nice inch of rocky, brown head. Smell is molasses, tar and just a hint of roast. Taste is more of the same. A very good, solid impy stout. Plenty of molasses and tar flavors. These are all primary flavors I look for in a solid imperial stout. Full on the moutheel and amazingly for the high ABV easy to drink.
One of the first beers that I've had from Pisgah and have yet to be letdown yet. Solid beer from a solid brewery.

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Photo of atsprings
4.4/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle (labeled 11.2%) into a Brooklyn snifter a nice opaque jet black with a decent tan head that diminishes to a ring and leaves slight lacing on the glass. Aroma is a wonderful blend of abundant roasted malt, a just opened container of Hershey's cocoa and freshly ground coffee. The taste is an incredible blend of cocoa and roasted malts with a touch of dried fruits. The beer is remarkably smooth and the alcohol is very well hidden, it still provides warmth, but you'd never guess it's over 11%. This is a truly amazing Imperial Stout, considering how much I love the Vortex I, this one certainly a worthy follow-up. Hey, Pisgah, any plans for a Vortex III? Maybe a dopplebock, Imperial Pilsner or even better an Imperial Red?

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Photo of taylorhamrick
4.75/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown with ruby highlights straight from the bottle. In the glass it is pitch black, shiny with a huge brown head. The bubbles are loose and start to fall back moderately quickly, leaving some decent lacing. The smell is initially CO2, but then I get this deep, dark sweetness, mixed in with a light roast barley, coffee. There's also a tiny bit of esters with some dark fruits, vanilla, plums, tamarind. A very pleasant smell, but a bit subdued, if it were stronger, this would have everything in the smell. The taste is exceptional. Upfront, this has an intense profound, dark sweetness. I get loads of dark fruit, mixed with some caramel flavor on top, vanilla and plums like I said before, a tiny bit estery. A little bit of that great roasted taste, actually quite enough if you look for it. The yeast characteris really something too, a bit of the american ale, and a hint of some dark belgian ale yeast, bready and thick, with plenty of maltiness. Not a single off flavor, no burnt taste, no dryness, and the best part is that there isn't an overabundance of black malt, so it isn't too oily I barely detect the alcohol, but it warms my stomach up once its down. This strikes an amazing balance between the depth of flavor, sweetness, and high alcohol, it's like Sam Smith's version, but intensified and boosted up in alcohol. The sweetness gives it an amazingly thick and viscous feel. The carbonation is spot on. I just feels creamy and wonderful. This one is really, really a joy to drink. Nothing here that turns me off, and the alcohol of course can get you, but really on the great end of RIS drinkability. really a very great and classic interpretation on the style

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Photo of scifan
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opened with a loud hiss of carbonation. Lots of bubbles as I pour, should a RIS be this carbonated. Poured into my Chimay goblet jet black with a light brown head that quickly fades.
Getting some dark roasted barley aromas, some dark chocolate, and lots of dark ripe fruit aromas. Very nice. Very unusual for this style but really good.
At first you get a nice roasted barley, coffee flavor, then a fruity sweetness like raisinsy, plum, fig kind of flavors very nice. Then there's some more roasted bitterness at the end. Very interesting beer. I'm so glad my City Beverage is gonna have Pisgah on a regular basis.
The carbonation has seemed to settle down a little, still a little prickly on the tongue, but its yet it coats the tongue nicely.
Very Very drinkable not a hint of the almost 12% alcohol. This baby goes down way toooo easy.

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Photo of wcudwight
4.75/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Black in color with a creamy tan colored head. Lace sticks to the sides of the glass in sheets.
Wonderful aroma of bakers chocolate and rich dark fruits.
The flavor leans heavily to dark fruits and has less roasted flavors than others of the style. I usually prefer my RISs to be heavily roasted, but I LOVE this one. Raisins, prunes, dates and blackberries. The blackberry flavor is pretty noticable and really makes this one stand out over a crowded and highly competitive RIS style. There's just enough roast and coffee to compliment the dark fruit and brown sugar flavors. This is one delicious beer and it's organic to boot.
Mouthfeel is good. It's rich, creamy, and smooth. I wish it was a bit fuller though.
11.7%? You have to be kidding me. There is no hint of that amount of alcohol. This one drinks as easy as an Oatmeal Porter.
Another fine beer from Pisgah!

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Photo of seaoflament
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to my buddy Joey for the trade over a year ago.

Hey, it's raining in San Diego! I have to take advantage of the weather to bust out a nice imperial stout from the cellar on a lazy Sunday. Fellow BA rallison was kind enough to share his bottle with me sometime last year during some Lost Abbey release and what I remember was a wonderful roasted aroma with lots of chocolate, chocolate brownie batter from what I can recall.

Best before 2/2018

Pours a cola pop color with a good finger of soft and creamy foam. Good retention and a bit of lacing.

Deeply roasted malts, bitter-sweet chocolate, brownies again! A faint garlicy hop aroma in the background, raisins, prunes, dates, black cherries, cocoa, and a bit of dry roasted barley. Whoppers candy, hints of chocolate milkshake, and a touch of cream. Now I'm starting to detect the coffee and espresso notes, like a coffee bean covered in chocolate. Deep and complex roasted malt profile but I wish the aroma was a bit more floral or intense, so far it's not one of those stouts you can smell from across the room. I'm also getting something that smells like cake batter, brown sugar, and chocolate grains.

Roasted barley with a rush of chocolate, raisins, dates, prunes, cocoa, coffee, alcohol, and yeast fruitiness in the finish. A bit of a warming sensation on the back of the throat after the swallow. Earthy and slightly spicy hoppiness in the first half with a toasted and coffee finish. A nice, roasted, dryness in the finish balanced out the beer well. More chocolate, fruitiness, and alcohol as the beer opens up. A touch of mint in the finish as well.

Low carbonation but very smooth and creamy, the beer itself feel a tad thin mid-palate. Alcohol is well hidden for the most part. Fairly easy to drink as the beer is not too thick, whether that's good or bad is up to each individual person but I think a little more body would make this one a very impressive imperial stout.

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Photo of BgThang
4.28/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to a fellow BA member for bringing this to a resent tasting.

A - black as night with a light hint of light showing through. Nice one finger head that quickly dissipated.

Nose is that of a bunch of dark fruit, raisin, prunes, grapes, plums, blackberrys, the list goes on and on.

Taste - WOW this was an explosion of drak fruits and a very complex beer.

Thank you bill for bringing this and it was one of my favorites of the night. Would certainly buy this again if I cam e across it in my travels

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Photo of Sammy
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Fresh from Bruisin' Ales. Pours black and some white head. Aroma is pleasant roasty and malty. Taste is very sugary, this is like a milk stout, a sweet stout only somewhat better. I managed to drink the bomber, it is drinkable and pleasant enough. Some chocolate and one sip seemed coffee. This is sugar cup of coffee, and how many cups can I drink? Sorry Ashville, I have had thicker mouthfeel, creamier, more chocolate,less sweet to go gah gah on this local.Dramatically overrated.

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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to an amazingly generous dmeadows for this one.

Pours a deep jet black, impenetrable to light. A nice fizzy head forms, but reduces to about two fingers and turns into ice cream. Lacing is pretty good.

Nose is promising during the pre-game. Full of dark roasted malt, some slight coffee. Some defenite chocolate and a little dose of dark fruits. Roasted malt and chocolate are dominant though, and give hope to the fans.

Whoa! Pisgah has won another game. Huge roasted malt profile dominates right off the bat. A slight smidge of dark fruit hints just afterwards, but roasted malt quickly grabs possession of the ball again. Chocolate then throws the alley oop as the roasted malt dunks in your eye towards the finish. A little bit of alcohol drains a couple from the free throw line on right before the buzzer. A tiny bit of overcarbonation fouls on the reach but is nowhere near as bad as the abrasive carbonation they had in the Valdez game. Alcohol and roasted malt are carried of the court by chocolate during the aftertaste.

The game leaves pisgah fans with a viscous mouthfeel of victory. Very slight overcarbonation again, but he is lost as the fans rush the court. A bit of dryness on the finish.

This game goes down very nicely, as it should have for Vortex. 11.7% was the spread, but it was more like 8% by the time the game was over. Couldn't beleive it.

Overall, one of the better games of the year. Much better than the valdez game, but hopefully the second bottling will bring valdez up to the heels of vortex II. A very drinkable beer of this magnitude, and beautiful balance of chocolate and roasted malt flavors combine for a sick triple double, and leave the fans wanting more and more and more. You will want a replay of this one. Great Beer.

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Photo of gford217
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into a tulip.

Pours an opaque black with only the slightest hint of mahogany showing through the edges. The head is massive and tan, forming a lasting cap which leaves spotty lacing.

The nose has sweet dark fruit and lots of lightly roasted malts. There's also plenty of espresso and chocolate in the background. It's a fairly sweet nose with the roasted character not taking it to far.

The taste follows the aroma and might be even a tad sweeter. It's got a big sweet licorice and chocolate malt kick up front before giving way to the slightly roasted malts. The finish is back to the sweetness with an interesting fruitiness and hints of coffee.

The mouthfeel is ultra creamy and velvety smooth with nice soft carbonation and plenty of body.

This is a very good imperial stout from Pisgah and more on the sweeter side of things. I don't think it's quite as good as Valdez in my book but it's still quite tasty. Recommended!

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