1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

649 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 649
Reviews: 306
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 13.37%
Wants: 78
Gots: 89 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: RBorsato on 11-25-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 649 | Reviews: 306 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kkipple
2.48/5  rDev -38.6%
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.

Photo of mwbrady12
2.5/5  rDev -38.1%

Photo of Bluecane
2.5/5  rDev -38.1%

Photo of smurfyou
2.55/5  rDev -36.9%
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...

Photo of Wolfpack2005
2.63/5  rDev -34.9%
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.

Photo of mortarit
2.68/5  rDev -33.7%
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.

Photo of HeadE
2.73/5  rDev -32.4%
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.

Photo of a10t2
2.75/5  rDev -31.9%
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.

Photo of Aisha
2.75/5  rDev -31.9%

Photo of javincik
2.78/5  rDev -31.2%
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.

Photo of wcudwight
2.85/5  rDev -29.5%
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.

Photo of elgiacomo
2.85/5  rDev -29.5%
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.

Photo of evanstoner
3/5  rDev -25.7%

Photo of Stigs
3/5  rDev -25.7%

Photo of aleckpa
3/5  rDev -25.7%

Photo of Trappist77
3/5  rDev -25.7%

Photo of Dave_Treat
3/5  rDev -25.7%

Photo of spoonhawk
3/5  rDev -25.7%

Photo of thereal_adam
3/5  rDev -25.7%

Photo of KerMUDGEon
3/5  rDev -25.7%

Photo of Soto
3/5  rDev -25.7%

Photo of hellhammermario
3/5  rDev -25.7%

Photo of Lob
3/5  rDev -25.7%

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.05/5  rDev -24.5%
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!

Photo of TheDTrain
3.1/5  rDev -23.3%
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.

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
91 out of 100 based on 649 ratings.