1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. 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
90
outstanding

598 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 598
Reviews: 299
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 13.15%
Wants: 76
Gots: 67 | FT: 4
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:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 598 | Reviews: 299 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rodrot
3.35/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a very pretty dark red color with a solid half inch head that faded after a couple of minutes. Aroma: smell of nutmeg, vanilla, clove and other spices. The aroma was very faint however, barely detectable. Taste was of the same spices mentioned above along with some flavors of caramel, cherries and of all things- root beer. For some reason I kept tasting root beer in the finish. Mouthfeel was very light and easy drinking. I was quite disappointed with this beer. For a spiced winter brew, I expect something with more body and flavor. The spices were very muted and just didn't jump out at me. This beer is very sessionable however, just a little thin in body for my taste.

rodrot, Feb 03, 2007
Photo of NClifestyle
3.38/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

uh oh, folks. we might have a problem here.

i visited wine warehouse here in greensboro last night for a highland brewery tasking. every beer was present and accounted for, including this years cold mountain. sadly, it's not up to par with the last few years, and below my extremely high expectations for this wonderful brew.
looked great, dark amber to rich red/brown. decent off white head, some lace to speak of, so that was fine.
the aroma was lacking, there was a bit of spice, but nothing special.
the taste was the major issue for me. i actually enjoyed the vanilla and spice of the past. although there is a bit of vanilla in this one, it's just barely there, and mostly hides behind the earthy bread and dirt taste. definitely much more in the bitter/grain department this year. hints of cinnamon, vanilla and maybe a touch of fruit like orange or grapefruit are in the mix, but very minimal.
mouthfeel was fine, maybe even a bit more full, compared with previous years.
i would still drink many of these if on tap, but it seems like this is a different, possibly hoppier, version of cold mountain, and a departure from the typical makeup of the past few offerings.

my buddy dale, a complete hophead, and my girlfriend, who does not like sweeter beers, said they liked this years cold mountain much better than ever before, so take that for what it's worth.

cheers...

NClifestyle, Dec 20, 2006
Photo of hunteraw
3.4/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to ipa2xs for sending this one my way - it's the last of the beers I received in the No Name BIF....

Appearance: Garnet, almost purple in color. Good head, retention and lacing. Very clear. A fine looking beer, if nothing else.

Smell: Cocoa, heavy on the Christmas spices, definitely sweet-smelling.

Taste: Spices, maple syrup. Some cocoa and vanilla. Not much bitterness. Heavy flavors conceal the alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Thicker body than I think I'd prefer, somewhat syrupy.

Drinkability: I split the 16 oz and that was plenty... Not a huge fan on the whole - not beery enough for me, I suppose.

hunteraw, Mar 29, 2007
Photo of clemtig76
3.4/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

20oz brown bottle picked up at CBX in Charleston, SC. Pours out a beautiful dark amber color with ruby highlights and a nice fluffy beige head. A really beautiful looking brew.
Faint sweet aroma of vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Taste is where this beer fails me, my sample had a lingering metallic aftertaste that just would not go away. Last years version was what I expect from a winter warmer. This year Highland missed the mark with me.

clemtig76, Dec 30, 2009
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.4/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a rich garnet-hued body with wispy, seafoam beige head.

Smell: Spicy, fruity aroma of oranges, cranberries, cinnamon and maybe a bit of ginger.

Taste: Beyond the toasty malts, there is a real medley of flavors at work here. For me, I'm picking up orange peel, cranberries, mint, nutmeg, and cinnamon (which really comes through in the finish).

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Moderately carbonated.

Drinkability: Interesting and well-made, but not particularly to my liking.

ChainGangGuy, Jan 21, 2007
Photo of ChuckWagon
3.4/5  rDev -15.6%
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.

ChuckWagon, Nov 20, 2013
Photo of CWiggins
3.43/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Highland's version of the Winter Warmer seems to have peaked two years ago. Since then, the last two batches have fallen a little short. Granted, the recipe and style seems to vary, so it can't be expected to be the same, but the comparisons are ever-present to the serious taster. Having said that, it seems that everyone in North Carolina eagerly anticipates the arrival of Cold Mountain, and I'm no exception. I picked up the first bottle I laid eyes on this season, and tonight it has been opened and consumed.

It certainly looks like a winter warmer, with its dark amber hue and yellow, shining highlights. A one-finger head formed on the surface, but soon gave way to a thin lacing of eggshell-white lacing. Aromas of winter spices dominate the nose; I don't really get a large malt or hop presence here. The flavor has a sweet, floral front, quickly followed by a malty, spiced middle, and ends with a mildly hoppy finish, accented by a nutty, brown ale-like character. There's something quite appealing about this version. The carbonation is a little much for my taste, but that's very personal.

I have a growler of last year's Cold Mountain waiting to be sampled. Look for a review of that precious volume to note how well that vintage aged!

CWiggins, Nov 29, 2007
Photo of humuloner22
3.46/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This one has gotten a lot of attention, especially around the holidays, I have tried it for several years and I do feel that it has lost something this year (2013). It has a nice dark color, the smell is very festive for which it represents. It has an almost egg nogg smell and to a certain degree taste as well. I like eggnogg and I like beer and I do believe that this one balances that pretty well. Most holiday/winter beers have too much of one spice or another but this one balances it pretty well. But, this year did fall a little flat to me. I enjoyed it, its a great beer and much better than most, but there was a bit less of the things I used to like about it and more of the just average ale taste coming through. I like a good ale and this would be a good one by itself, but for a quarter of the price. Overall, I will continue to have a pour of this around the holidays, when I run across it. One thing I would like to try is it on draft, but that is nearly impossible to do, it goes extremely quickly and you have to be at the right place at the right time. I am like Dr. John unfortunately.

humuloner22, Feb 07, 2014
Photo of cerevisiaephilus
3.48/5  rDev -13.6%
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.

cerevisiaephilus, Aug 21, 2003
Photo of SmellsofMahagony
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

SmellsofMahagony, May 17, 2013
Photo of mte1972
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

mte1972, Nov 29, 2013
Photo of Double06
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

Double06, Jan 15, 2012
Photo of Cloaked_Phantom
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

Cloaked_Phantom, Jan 01, 2014
Photo of CM31
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

CM31, May 18, 2014
Photo of djeucalyptus
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
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.

djeucalyptus, Feb 23, 2011
Photo of mendvicdog
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

mendvicdog, Apr 08, 2013
Photo of shagens
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

shagens, May 29, 2013
Photo of AlaskaAg
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

AlaskaAg, Nov 20, 2014
Photo of GeorgiaBeerGuy
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

GeorgiaBeerGuy, Jun 23, 2013
Photo of SadMachine
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

SadMachine, Jun 28, 2014
Photo of Thorpe429
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
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.

Thorpe429, Jan 28, 2011
Photo of kristougher
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

kristougher, Aug 10, 2013
Photo of Morey
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

Morey, Dec 01, 2013
Photo of kizyle
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

kizyle, Jan 07, 2013
Photo of bgramels
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

bgramels, Dec 26, 2012
Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 598 ratings.