Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter AleHighland Cold Mountain Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

697 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 697
Reviews: 313
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 12.94%
Wants: 82
Gots: 107 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 697 | Reviews: 313
Photo of ChuckWagon
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Since I had my first Cold Mountain four years ago, I've looked forward to the release date. But every year, it seems like the quality slips a little, and this year (2013 - the beer was released just last Thursday) the slippage seems to have been a little more extreme.

Specifically, the intake of the beer was fine but the finish was abrupt and left a metallic after-taste. I thought maybe I was having an off day (happens) but a few other folks I've talked to since felt the same way. Like it could use some more time, or maybe something wasn't quite right with the recipe or batch. It was almost like the vanilla was short, or an inferior grade.

That said, it's still drinkable, but not quite as good as I remember it or hoped this year's would be. Maybe some time will help it out, or maybe not.

Your mileage may vary.

Photo of cerevisiaephilus
3.48/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

In my experience, this beer is only available in 32oz (1L?) swing top bottles during the winter months. Fairly well spiced, this beer is reminiscent of pumpkin pie both in smell and taste. Definately an enjoyable beer, but I feel it could be made more so by increasing the quantity of malts and holding the spice level the same. However, this wouldn't work in NC because this beer is already close to the 6% alcohol level the state has set as a limit for all BEER. Which is ridiculous.

Photo of djeucalyptus
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a bright amber-ruby hue with a frothy two-finger head that holds for a while and leaves pretty decent gobs of lacing down the glass.

aroma of brown sugar, caramel malt, hints of vanilla and some spices. a touch of earthy hops.

taste is interestingly deep although somewhat confusing. decent malt backbone accentuated by both a decent green herbal hopping and some funky vanilla and spice. it reminds me of cream soda mixed with a hoppy amber. and I haven't decided if that's a good thing.

the body is fairly light and the carbonation ample, which is good, because there's a definite lingering hop bitterness in the finish that is a step away from cloying. as is the odd sweetness. it's an odd dichotomy.

all in all, I can't say I'm completely impressed by this one. I love a good vanilla and spice winter brew, but this one may have just missed the mark a tad. not my favorite offering from Highland, but I could see warming up to another glass if I was in the right mood.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Paul for sharing this at a recent tasting. Currently the #1 Winter Warmer. Served in a snifter.

Pours a nice caramel color with a really light head. Doesn't really stick around too long and only leaves a spot or two of lacing. The nose is loaded with vanilla, though it smells somewhat like extract. There's also a bit of caramel and malty sweetness. The taste is more vanilla plus some caramel. Not much else, though it's fairly nice. Beer has a medium body and finishes quite dry. Not terribly complex and not all the winter warmery, but pretty good.

Photo of inlimbo77
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz, 2012
DFH signature

A: Deep amber color. It's filtered nicely, as you can still see through it pretty well. Thin layer off white head. Faded pretty quickly.

S: Holiday spices. Some hop notes. More on the earthy side than fruity. The holiday spices really dominate.

T: You get a little hop bitterness up front, then that holiday spice and malt pick up in the middle of the mouth.

M: Medium bodied.

Photo of bgarrity
3.52/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Interesting ale to drink. Aroma is not much to talk about, because you really have try to even smell it. Taste is chocolate and caramel mostly, with slight hoppiness afterwards with a bitter chocolate finish. Nice dark amber color. Interesting brew but not Highland's best. Word of warning: intense chocolate flavor for chocolate lovers mostly.

Photo of TheHoppiest
3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours a clear copper, with an ivory head that quickly reduces.

Has a grassy, grainy smell, with mild hops.

Has a mildly malty taste, with spicy mild hops. Mild caramel notes, overlaid with the spicy hop finish warming the belly.

Medium mouthfeel, leaving a dry feeling tongue.

Fairly drinkable, decent enough for a winter ale, but a little timid for what it seems to want to be.

Photo of rajendra82
3.54/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Started getting the beer this year in Georgia in 22 oz. bombers (without the flip top), so went head and picked some up at Bullock’s on Sandy Plains in Marietta to sample what the North Carolinians have been raving about for so long.

The body came out deep reddish brown with a smallish foamy head that started off at one finger thick, and stayed at that level for a while. The smell was just absent, with even deep inhalation revealing almost nothing, except some timid floral to citric hops. The taste on the other hand was much more expressive, comprising of sweet caramel malt with just a hint of chocolate, winter spices (ginger, cinnamon, and clove), and citric hops all complimenting each other quite nicely. Much lighter in body than most Winter Warmers, with the lively carbonation sparkling across the tongue like a soda, this felt more like a spice enhanced Bitter. Quite easy to drink, and relatively low in ABV, this is very suitable for the milder Southern climate, with its pseudo winter.

May be next year, they can pump up the recipe to the next level, now that the cap has been popped,

Photo of Walker8810
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a nice brownish hue with decent head. nice lacing.
aroma of cranberries of all things but it is a spiced winter brew.
mouthfeel is velvety smooth. goes down very easily.
tastes malty sweet w/ vanilla overtones and little hop flavor.
i normally don't like spiced beers but this one isn't overpoweringly spiced. still tastes like a good ale. i probably wouldn't drink it on a regular basis as it is not my favorite style but it is a really good example of a winter ale. definitely goes good w/ the season.
cheers.

Photo of n2185
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark, clear copper with two fingers of beige head that recedes into a thin ring with a little lacing.

S: Lots of creamy vanilla aromas with some light spice and caramel notes. Smells like a cream soda.

T: Some caramel malt flavors at first with light cinnamon and other spice notes. Creamy vanilla follows along with some nutty flavors as well. Roasted malt characters also peek through, bringing a slight bitterness.

M: Medium body with lowish carbonation, this beer is a bit on the watery side.

O: A decent beer that reminds me a lot of cream soda. I enjoy it fairly well, but it's not terribly complex and the watery body is a bit off-putting.

Photo of match1112
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

body is a clear dark amber color with a finger and a half of tan creamy head. the head recedes to a thin ring around the glass and leaves only a little lacing at the top of the glass. The nose is dominated by hints of cinnamon and vanilla with a light fruit scent. spice leads the way on the tongue also. i thought the fruit would of been apples but the label says raspberries and cranberries, i can kind of pick up on the tartness of the cranberries, but the raspberries are lost under the dominating presence of cinnamon. mouthfeel seems a little thin for a winter warmer. carbonation is nice and prickly on the tongue. i don't usually like winter warmers but this one is very drinkable. i wish the raspberrries played a bigger role in the beer and the vanilla would be better in a leading role instead of the cinnamon. none the less it is still worth drinking. but with the thin body and fairly low abv i don't know how warm it will keep you this winter.

Photo of DaPan
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours a clear amber color, no head to speak of, thin lacing and no retention.

Brown sugar, candy, and vanilla on the nose. Good start.

Taste is decent, same as above. Medium mouthfeel, low carbonation. Slides down really smooth.

Was anticipating more with this one with all the hype. All in all a solid brew, good quality.

Photo of beerhandy
3.59/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours a murky brown with a thick tan head that quickly subsides to a thin layer of foam.The aroma was cranberries with
subtle notes of pumpkin pie.The taste was malty sweetness with faint cinnamon and clove spiciness.The hops are subdued but dry it up in the swallow.The body was a bit thin perhaps a bit cidery.
A good winter warmer .

Photo of watermelon
3.59/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This years release In a 1 liter bottle poured into a tulip glass

A: Clear mahogany body with a creamy dense three finger head. Lots of lacing and great retention.

S: Not a very strong smell. Carmel and vanilla scents as well as some alcohol burn.. which is odd for the low ABV.

T: Vanilla flavors. Cranberry is good. Some nutty flavors as well as dark hops.

M: The mouthfeel is light and creamy I would prefer it be thicker especially for the style. The carbonation is correct. Slight bitterness lingers on the palette.

O: I probably wont be buying this again. For $13 for the liter size I just wasn't that impressed with this one. If it was offered in the +/- $10 size pack format it would be a decent winter warmer. I do like that it isn't super spiced and also doesn't have the medicinal flavors that some of this style have.

Photo of KajII
3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

[Suggested Glassware: Shaker Glass]

The pour was a clear reddish medium brown with an average (1-2 finger) light brown frothy head that was mostly diminishing, down to a light scattered film with a medium collar and fair sticky lacing.

The aroma was quite complex with a toasted bread malt, light spruce hops and a sweet doughy yeast with notes of caramel, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, toffee and dark fruit (figs and dates).

The taste was a bold malty sweet with a decent fruit presence along with hints of chocolate and caramel from the get go and was present pretty much throughout, it then progressed slightly with a mild bitter hoppy taste, a touch of coffee and a light toffee sweetness towards the finish. The flavor lasted a bit longer that average following the swallow, with a bitter sweet taste lingering on the taste buds for quite a while longer.

Mouthfeel was just below medium in body with a dry, creamy texture and a medium carbonation.

Overall this was an extremely tasty, well balanced Winter Ale. I will say with everything this brew has going on it was blended superbly well, which allowed for a smooth and very enjoyable drinkability...

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Photo of mbrown26
3.62/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Copper to brown colors with a one finger browning head. Left a nice lacing.

S: A wonderful vanilla smell with some other spices mixed in.

T: Has a spice taste and definitely malts. A little bit of alcohol taste in the back of the throat, but definitely well balance. A good winter warmer.

M: Moderate carbonation and some bitterness.

D: Fairly easy to drink. The smell of this one is the highlight.

Try it if you can find it.

Photo of cindyjeffsmith
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

appearance: Brown mocha. Robust tan head.
smell: Malt, subdued hops. Pleasant.
taste: Very mellow and subdued Winter Warmer.
drinkability. This growler did disappear quickly. Not sure of the ABV....maybe 6%, 7%? Not a beer I'll be hunting in the future to be honest. Avery's Old Jubilation much preferred, but a nice brew on a fairly cold Ga. winter night.

Photo of ColdPoncho
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Nice clear ruby/amber body, no head really, but a small white ring.

S - caramel, honey, cinnamon, cloves...very sweet.

T - Cinnamon graham crackers, vanilla, spice. Theres something a bit off here...not too sure about this.

M - dry...medium body. Fine.

O (D) - It's a bit dry for my liking, and has a bit too much sweetness in the nose, but it's pretty good.

Photo of chilidog
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got thisone as a bonus gift from a trade, thank -you much.

Cellared a few months, I pulled out this kilt sporting winter warmer during a recent snow laden day.

It poured a dark brown with reddish hue's. The head was tan, thick and held to form a nice film. Lace was spotty.

The aroma was sweet malts and bakers spice.

The taste was a caramelized malt base with a good dose of winter spice including cinnamon. Even a hint of black pepper hides amongst an alcohol backdrop. Didn't get much warmth from this brew and at 22 oz. over a day of sipp'n, the spice kind-of imbeds the mouth.

Over-all a fare drinker on a winters day. Glad to have the chance and would purchase if I could.

Photo of Tilley4
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a beautiful dark amber color with a beige head... Really beautiful looking brew... Looks like a Winter Warmer should..

Lovely aroma of Christmas cookies, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg... Smells very sweet..

Not quite as sweet as I was expecting... I'm actually getting quite a bit of hops out of this along with that sweet sugar cookie flavor and the vanilla.. Finishes fairly and dry and surprisingly boozy... Weird...

Looks and smells the part of a tremendous Winter Warmer but the taste doesn't quite do the aroma justice. Its still a good brew but I have had better WW's.

Photo of Tilly
3.64/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice transparent brown with a huge thick frothy head. Aromas of carmalized sugar, vanilla and light fruits. Tastes complexed. Carmalized sugar, vanilla and light fruit taste! Go figure! Light mouth feel, light with not much bitterness. Nice winter ale.

Photo of jmarsh123
3.64/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a somewhat clear red-tinged brown with almost no head.

A cream soda aroma. Lots of vanilla with some caramel sweetness as well.

Tastes follows the nose. Lots of up front sweetness with a good amount of vanilla. Towards the end of the palate the cream soda aspect really comes to the forefront. There's a little bit of a metallic flavor in the aftertaste though.

This beer is a bit thin for a winter warmer and carbonation levels are good.

This is almost a great beer. I love the vanilla aspect and it smells sublime, but there are just a few minor things preventing this from being what it could. Still pretty enjoyable.

Photo of kempshark
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

For me the major smell and taste was vanilla....I tasted a little cinnamon, but I didn't get any of the chocolate or roasted flavors others mentioned. It was what I would call a good, light roasted flavored beer. I generally prefer stouts, porters, and quads...this was a nice, light alternative that was very easy drinking.

Photo of MTNboy
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It pours brown/amber wit a slightly reddish hue. There is both a nice head and lace formations to this beer. The smell is almost that of a bourbon ale with some spiciness. The taste is definitely interesting but I'll be honest about saying I have mixed feelings on the taste. It is very sweet with tones of Christmas cookie spices. There are tones of nutmeg, cinnamon and coriander. It also seems like anise and vanilla are present. I think I like it but find it a little overpowering at the same point. It has a hardy mouthfeel and goes down pretty smooth.

Photo of beer2day
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours reddish brown with little to no head. Big sweet nose with hints of caramel and candy sugar.

Hit is very sweet, with a strong caramel brown ale flavor. Vanilla bean takes over in the finish and in a very strong fashion. If you don't like vanilla, stay away. The vanilla really overpowers everything else for me and takes away from the overall flavor.

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 697 ratings.