Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

Not Rated.
Highland Cold Mountain Winter AleHighland Cold Mountain Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

308 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 308
Hads: 700
rAvg: 4
pDev: 12.25%
Wants: 85
Gots: 112 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Highland Brewing visit their website
North Carolina, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.80% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: RBorsato on 11-25-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 308 | Hads: 700
Photo of waldoiverson
2.06/5  rDev -48.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

bomber into US Ping

A: minmal head with almost no lacing, nice dark copper color

S: smells like those heart candies you get around valentines day...no alcohol smell or hops, maybe a bit of caramel malt

t: sweetbitterness that is kind of chalky and chamomile floraly...not sure what's going on here but my mouth isn't happy

m: thin and tangy from carbonation

d: not sure about abv but on taste i'd not drink another...sorry highland (436 characters)

Photo of rasafrasit
2.26/5  rDev -43.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

People around Asheville go manic for this stuff but to me it tastes like a Target potpourri candle: saccharine in sweetness, overloaded with pungent "spices" and little or no true body. This beer is all hype and no substance.

Look: nice amber color and decent head
Smell: like your grannie's guest bathroom
Taste: overloaded with "flavors" but basically a gimmick beer
Feel: slightly syrupy but inoffensive
Overall: I'd rather drink a soda (443 characters)

Photo of JDV
2.32/5  rDev -42%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

bottle courtesy of DrBayern
Rich maroon brown with a fluffy beige head. Smell is sweet, malt, vanilla, cream and perhaps some butteriness or butterscotch. Kind of reminds me of scotch ales, which i'm not too keen on. Taste is smooth vanilla, cream and caramelly malt. A good beer, in all honesty, but something about the strong sweet vanilla like aroma that was a bit cloying or unpleasant to me. (396 characters)

Photo of PDXHops
2.36/5  rDev -41%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

2010 vintage on tap in a shaker pint. One day after a disappointing cellared '09, let's see how the fresh batch measures up.

See-thru amber with a very modest creamy head, but a fair dose of sticky lacing. Nose is rather uninteresting (perhaps partially at the fault of the crappy glassware)- gentle maltiness with a vanillaish spicy presence. Tastes similarly frustrating; it's like they left the 'warming' out of the 'winter warmer'. Aching for a dose of robustness. Plenty of leafy bitterness, a bit of toasted malt, mild vanilla and cinammon and not much else. Vaguely nutty. A bit of lingering coating chocolate milk in the finish (lactose?).

Overall impression: Disappointing offering from a generally solid brewery. (726 characters)

Photo of plaid75
2.45/5  rDev -38.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured a deep amber hue with a wisp of white foam atop. There was little retention and lacing.

The smell featured a strong sweet cereal aroma with a healthy dose of vanilla. Some nutmeg detected as well.

The taste consists of and astringent cinammon and nutmeg flavor with an overdose of vanilla. Very medicinal in the bitterness.

The mouthfeel was thin with an uncomfortable astringency.

Overall I was disappointed in this beer. Perhaps it is past its prime. Either way, I couldn't finish it. (505 characters)

Photo of kkipple
2.48/5  rDev -38%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I was excited to see this locally in Columbia, as I'd wanted to try it for some time and had not been able to get my mitts on it. On draft, too! I eagerly ordered a pint...

...and was bitterly disappointed! I post this review bewildered as to what I actually drank, because apparently most everyone else loves this beer.

It arrived a rich, clear mahogany, no visible bubbles and a small white head which booked it within minutes.

I smelled this beer and immediately thought "Vanilla and cereal" ?? Several sniffs later I'd picked up marshmallows, cocoa, and again a weird cinnamon grain flavor. I said as much to my tablemates and one replied "Yeah, it smells like Life cereal!" Which is absolutely correct. I can't say I enjoyed the smell, but it's certainly different.

The taste was overwhelmingly cinnamon Life cereal! Loads of vanilla and sweet malt, no hop presence whatsoever. Very timid mouthfeel, and altogether too much vanilla and sweetness to be drinkable. I had trouble finishing my glass. No roasted grain flavors or subtlety.

The mouthfeel was moderately carbonated and bizarrely thin for a winter warmer, I like mine much fuller.

My bar summary notes end: "Vanilla and spice overpower -- too sweet to drink much of. Odd." And that about sums it up. Being the number one rated winter warmer on the site, I'm baffled as to why this was so bad. Perhaps a bad batch or one that was damaged during transit? I didn't note any unwelcome flavors or smells, but the sum of the mix was practically undrinkable. I'll try Cold Mountain again, hopefully from a bottle, and re-review it.
For now, it's a sad letdown from a brewery I really respect.

EDIT: I've had this several times from bottle since, and really, I still dislike it. Ah well. (1,751 characters)

Photo of smurfyou
2.64/5  rDev -34%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Maybe this will be the first unflattering review of this beer? I'll preface this by saying I live in NC and love NC beers. My expectations might have been high because I enjoyed it last year.

I got a 22oz bomber of 2006 Cold Mountain from Greenlife in Asheville. Sat down after dinner with a fire going, in a cabin on a cold mountain night. Poured a decent looking dark amber color with a bit of head. Smelled like a winter warmer, nothing too suprising but nice. But when I tasted it, I was assaulted with nutmeg/spice flavor way out of balance with the beer part. Vanilla too I think. The malt flavor that was there was nice, just covered up by spice. The mouthfeel was very thin, contrary to what the smell and appearance would have you think. I honestly couldn't believe how unbalanced this beer tasted. Maybe thats what they're going for, a lot of you seem to like it. I could only get through half of it, the rest went down the drain. Sorry to all who can't find it... (978 characters)

Photo of Wolfpack2005
2.64/5  rDev -34%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A-Pours a deep clear amber color. A Brisk pour reveals a fairly impressive off white head that leaves a good amount of lacing

S-Aroma is unimpressive, dont detect too much except for a mild vanilla scent.

T-Very mild bittering hops up front. Picking up small notes of vanilla, raisin, and caramel, but the backbone of this beer seems to be some sort of a nut extract (maybe hazelnut). Not picking up any of the traditional spice that are typically in a winter warmer which is not necessarily a bad thing. Im guessing this beer is about 6-6.5% by the lack of alcohol taste that I like out of my winter WARMERS.

M-Very light with minimal carbonation.

O-IMO a sub-par beer. I cannot get past the hazelnut extract flavor that dominates the beer. I do like the fact that Highland stepped outside the bound of your traditional winter warmer. With some tweaking however i think this could be a good beer. Needs more burn. (919 characters)

Photo of mortarit
2.69/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I can't believe as much of Highland brews I have tried and consumed that I don't have any reviews for any of them.

2007

Up front I was not impressed because I have had better and knowing that it changes from year to year I won't stop tasting their winter warmer.

Why the change in bottles, the previous ones had the flip top. Now I got one in the 22 oz. bomber.

The major downfall to this year brew that the hops were missing or not producing the taste that so desire.

I will have to get another one to see if I get the same response to finished this review. I can't believe of the disappointment after waiting a year for it. (634 characters)

Photo of HeadE
2.73/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured from 22oz bottle to pint glass with coppery color and minimal head with no lacing.
Aroma is of overwhelming vanilla tones with none of the usual spice or roasted malt characteristics of a winter warmer.
Flavor reminiscent of cream soda with strong vanilla notes and no hop finish. Overly sweet with caramel tones in the background.
As fans of the previous offerings of Cold Mountain, my wife and I both agree this was a poor showing. Another bottle in the fridge, we will give it one more chance but are not as excited about future showings as we have been in the past. Perhaps it will cellar and age well and we will buy another to try again in six months. (664 characters)

Photo of a10t2
2.74/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Brown 22 oz bottle, poured into a 19 oz tulip glass. No visible date or batch number.

A: Clear, and absolutely beautiful ruby to brown color. Tiny wisps of off-white head that linger, but no lacing.

S: Diacetyl is very evident, along with some vanilla or oaky notes and a subtly earthy character that could be hops.

T: Thankfully, the diacetyl is restrained compared to the aroma. There's definite vanilla here as well, along with a big hit of caramel-y sweetness. Not much else going on though.

M: Diacetyl is again apparent on the roof of the mouth, although there's enough carbonation to cut through and keep it from being vinous.

D: I finished the beer, although I don't think I would ever try it again based on this sample. (733 characters)

Photo of javincik
2.79/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a nonic pint

A-Pours a deep crimson amber with a nice 1 inch off white foam head. Nice lacing and head retention. Good clarity.

S-Baked bread and caramel with underlying spices. Very little contribution from any hops. A hint of brown and candied sugar also. Nose is surprisingly muted. I expected more from this.

T-Basically follows the nose. Quite sweet initially with the spices coming through before a kiss of hops at the end to balance everything out. It is very sweet, but not cloying. No hint of any alcohol. Average is all I can say.

M-Thin. It is just detracting. When I sip a winter warmer, I want something substantial. This is not it. Not sure what the ABV is on this, but it really isn't warming. No hint of any alcohol whatsoever. Normally, I would say this is a good thing, but when I want a winter warmer, I want something big.

D-It goes down easily: too easily actually. This one is just disappointing. The taste is about average, the mouthfeel is quite weak, and it doesn't really warm you. I shall not be seeking this one out again. (1,080 characters)

Photo of elgiacomo
2.84/5  rDev -29%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

2009 22oz. bottle.

Pours red/copper/brown with a small off-white head that dissipates quickly to a light ring. Very little lacing.

Sweet aroma, caramel malt, vanilla, some dark fruit.

Flavor is underwhelming, some black cherries, caramel malt, vanilla, spice, but rather weak and watery. Somewhat medicinal.

Mouthfeel is low on carbonation, pretty thin, yet manages to get a bit sticky long after the finish.

A fair amount of local hype on this one and I was not terribly impressed for my first one. Coulda got an '08, but I will check it out again next year. (568 characters)

Photo of wcudwight
2.85/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

I have become a big fan of Highlands Cold Mountain and rush out to purchase it with each years release in Nov. I must say that this years is the most disappointing of the bunch. Not as spicy or complex as in years past. The mouthfeel is much lighter. And the beer just taste overall watered down. I'm glad I tried this on-tap before buying the big bottle. I'll will push this one to the side as Cold Mountain at least for this year has become a meer average winter warmer and will look forward to next years version. (516 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.06/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle split and poured into a Bruery tulip. No date or info listed on the bottle.

Thanks to my man Onenote81 for the cool sticker and coasters to accompany this brew! I love swag!

A - Beautiful, deep burnt amber in color with great clarity and a short, short-lived, off-white head. Good lace adorns the glass after it's depletion.

S - Sugary hazelnut and vanilla syrup like what's used in flavored coffee drinks. At first there was a blatant Willamet hop earthiness and rustic quality. Toasted Munich malts are in the background and fairly thin. Smells a little fake.

T - Bland toasted amber and caramelly Munich malts with subtle hop notes. Again, the vanilla and hazelnut flavors are far too sugary and syrupy in nature.

M - It's a bit thin and watery in body with a lightly dry finish. Weak bodied for a winter warmer.

D - Not awful or really offensive in any way, although the syrupy addition is a bit cloying. It's just too thin and spice-less for a winter warmer. I'm not exactly sure where the A- positive buzz is coming from with this brew. Thanks for a beer I've never had Jon, I do always appreciate the chance to try 'em! (1,145 characters)

Photo of TheDTrain
3.12/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

When I think winter warmer, I think a spicy high abv ale that will warm the body and soul...unfortunately this is not it. A hazy bright golden color with a lighter body. Nose and mouth was dominated by the vanilla and caramel which was somewhat pleasing but a bit artificial like vanilla flavored syrup.

A drinkable brew but not what I consider a winter warmer. (362 characters)

Photo of corby112
3.15/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to kubrick215 for sharing.

Pours a hazy dark amber/copper color with a one finger beige head that slowly fades into a lasting ring.  Sporadic spotty lacing left behind.  

Earthy, leathery malt aroma with an odd syrupy medicinal presence along with some dark fruit and heavy spices.  Hints of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla bean followed by cherry juice, plum and raspberry.

Medium bodied wih a dry, medicinal flavor along with a heavy vanilla and spice presence.   Lots of dark fruit and sweet caramel malt sweetness with notes of hazelnut, toffee, raspberry, cherry juice and lots of vanilla.  Floral/potpourri like with zesty cinnamon and clove spiciness.  Really weird combination of flavors.  Not bad but a few ounces was more than enough for me. (768 characters)

Photo of Reaper16
3.16/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

served on-tap @ Downtown Pub, Tuscaloosa, AL, into a pint glass

Pours an amber, nearly copper color. Decent clarity to the body. Nice, frothy buttermilk colored head of nearly 1.5 fingers.

The aroma is very sweet, like you stuck your head in a bag full of pastries. Lots of vanilla and cinnamon, but also a lot of buttered bread.

That carries through to the palate as well. Its like eating a pastry. Or, rather, drinking one. Its too buttery for my tastes, but there's nothing bad here.

Overall, this is a strange beer. It's heavy in terms of sweetness, but the excellent-carbonated body is light. The flavor says "sip me" but the mouthfeel says "gulp me." This is a nice beer, but you have to be in the mood for a cinnamon and butter and vanilla bomb. (757 characters)

Photo of kylehay2004
3.16/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Single finger head with nice lacing on a clear amber body. Aroma is mild, mostly sweet caramel malt and a touch of burnt toast. Flavor is a little syrup like/ molasses on a spIcy caaramel malt background. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Overall not as good as I was hoping for. Almost had a cough syrup like note. (319 characters)

Photo of beertunes
3.2/5  rDev -20%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into 10oz glass. Poured a clean, clear ruby-brown color with just the thinnest cap of slightly off-white head that no retention or lacing.

The aroma is very much a sweet malt bomb. There are some hints of raisins or other sweet fruits. Not much, a bit, of show through. The flavors very similar, with the addition a sticky-sweet finish.

Mouthfeel and drinkability were both average for the style. Overall, a decent, if not spectacular, example of the style. Worth a shot if you see it. (494 characters)

Photo of Ryan011235
3.22/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter on 12/14/10

11/23/10 etched on the bottle

Much appreciation to CruisaC for hooking me up with this Highland beer that has eluded me for years

Pours an amber brown color that has a rusty hue in the glass. One finger head holds briefly before receding to a patch of bubbles covering 75% of the surface. A little bit of lace sticks to the glass.

Malty with spices aplenty, the nose is reminiscent of sweet cinnamon bread. Notes of earthy hops waft about amid hints of nutmeg. Enough spice & bitterness to grab the nostrils without going overboard. Slight spot of honey & gingerbread as it warms. Smells good.

Ah, the taste doesn't back up the strength of the aroma. With each sip comes a clustered cavalcade of cinnamon & other spices leading into a dry bitterness that is much like tea leaves. Toasty bread notes toward the back half (a faint notion of yeast is had on the first few sips). The flavors seem disconnected; uninterested in mingling.

The feel is surprisingly thin & watery. It doesn't help that the carbonation is prickly for but a moment up front, losing momentum mid-swallow. A minimal grittiness toward the end. Finishes dry with toasted bread & an artificial spiciness. Not much alcohol heat.

Drinkability is ok; I'll have no problem finishing it. That the flavors don't gel & the feel is loose makes for a scattered sort of beer. Possibly a tad better as it warms, it isn't enough to save this one for me. It the taste were blended as well as the nose & the feel were more robust, this would be a winner for sure. (1,558 characters)

Photo of yourefragile
3.22/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

On tap at Tyler's Taproom Carrboro, NC

A: Somewhat clear, dark amber with a basically white head that quickly dissipates to a splotchy film with little lacing.
S: A whole of spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread, not much in the way of hops. Moderately strong, not all together appealing however
T: Ok, wow, cinnamon and gingerbread are very very strong. This tastes like a cinnamon bar I get from a bakery at home, in fact that's all I can think of right now. Some hops or bitterness for balance would be nice, but instead it almost tastes like I'm eating that pastry. Not bad, certainly unique, never tasted this in a beer, but I'm slightly overwhelmed by it.
M: Moderate carbonation, very smooth and creamy, medium bodied. Goes does easy and strong gingerbread, cinnamon aftertaste
D: I enjoyed this first time around and tried a second pint, and well, had some issues finishing it. The spices are too sweet and overpowering drinking too much of this. I liked this, but drinkability was severely limited for me, after first pint, it was just too much of too sweet. (1,068 characters)

Photo of callisbeers
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

No sense in decribing the color, head and lacing of this beer (it is prettu much the same as everyone elses reviews). yNice malty smell, with a hint of vanilla. Torn by the taste on this one. I normally like sweet tasting drinks but this one was almost too sweet. Almost like having a dessert wine. However, perhaps because this was my nightcap, I am somewhat enjoyed this beer. I think if I knew before hand that this was my last beer of the night, I would be happy to have it. But if I had started off the night with this one, I would have been disappointed. I do not think there is much drinkability here. (608 characters)

Photo of davidt
3.3/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

1 liter flip-top bottle. Bottle opens with a "pop" and a wisp of carbonated air. Pours dark reddish-amber. Very thick, pillowy beige head leaves lots of lacing on the glass. Immediate aroma is cinnamon. As it warms, nutmeg, caramel notes appear. Taste matches with cinnamon being the strongest, some nutmeg, caramel, vanilla flavors too. This needs to be at room temperature to loosen the flavors. Not a bad beer, but for a Winter beer still very similar to so many Fall pumpkin beers. (485 characters)

Photo of nickfl
3.3/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - One finger of light brown foam on top of a slightly hazy, medium brown body with dark amber highlights. The foam settles quickly and leaves moderate lace.

S - Lots of sweet caramel and toffee with nutmeg, cinnamon, and a hint of licorice. There are some pine-scented hops in the background and maybe a bit of chocolate.

T - Some very strong toffee up front with notes of chocolate and nutmeg. A surprisingly assertive pine hop flavor appears in the middle with strong ginger, licorice and more toffee. The finish is a bit medicinal with a strange combination of tannic spices, sweet caramel, and bitter hops.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly sweet, astringent finish.

D - Spiced beers require a delicate touch and often the spices don't really seem like they improve the beer. Unfortunately this one steps over the line between judicious use of spices and becomes a cloying mess. The aroma is nice, with distinct malt and a good balance of spices and hops. The flavor starts out promising, but falls apart by the finish as the malt becomes cloying and the spices turn astringent. I really tried to like this, but it is a very strange beer and I definitely won't be drinking it again. (1,218 characters)

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 308 ratings.