1. Don't miss our 7th annual American Craft Beer Fest featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers this May 30 & 31 in Boston, MA! Buy your tickets now!
  2. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

Highland Cold Mountain Winter AleHighland Cold Mountain Winter Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

532 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 532
Reviews: 296
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 13.18%


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:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
Ratings: 532 | Reviews: 296 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Gehrig
Gehrig

Illinois

4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at the outstanding Independent in Seminole Heights, FL.

A thick, pillowy finger of off-white foam atop a clear brown body with ruby trim. Good lacing and nice head duration make a good first impression. Fine aroma filled with raspberry, a whiff of milk chocolate, and lots of spice, primarily ginger and cinnamon.

The taste is flat-out delicious, very fruity and sweeter in taste than the nose indicates. There is raspberry but certainly cherry as well, a sweet start complemented with toasted malt, chocolate, and a bit of vanilla bean in the finish.

This is a unique warmer in that Cold Mountain differs from many warmers in its sweeter flavor base. Plus, the texture is not nearly as heavy as other warmers. It is mild, smooth, but with a complex flavor and delicious flavor base, an exceptional accessibility, and a creamy smooth mouthfeel that makes quaffing Cold Mountain incredibly easy.

Cold Mountain was quite a revelation, a great way to start an evening of beers with friends tonight. A distinct winter warmer, be prepared for a different, enjoyable take on this style. Very delicious.

Serving type: on-tap

12-02-2011 05:05:46 | More by Gehrig
Photo of Onenote81
Onenote81

North Carolina

4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was the third installment of City Bev's Freakin' Firkin Friday. Had a pint at the store yesterday. Pours a hazy brown-tinted copper. A small off-white head caps it off. Faint lace sticks around. The nose is potent with strong notes of vanilla, nutmeg, toffee, toasted pecans. Fantastic nose.

Extremely smooth, creamy mouthfeel, as was expected with the cask. Carbonation level is minimal. Perfect sipper. Flavor profile mirrors the nose somewhat with vanilla, cinnamon, sweet malts. The spices are more muted in this version of the beer, but this is still a splendid winter dessert brew. Perfect to sip on a crisp, cold evening.

*Note: This is the first beer that I have tried from bottle, tap, and cask.

Serving type: cask

01-08-2011 19:52:26 | More by Onenote81
Photo of planetscott
planetscott

Georgia

4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love the appearance of this beer. Clear ruby and garnet color. Not much aroma. Taste is different for a winter warmer and a nice change of pace. Fruity, but not in a Belgian sense. I taste pears and very faint vanilla. Mouth feel is not thick like most winter warmers....Again a nice change. Good drink ability. Not great as it is somewhat sweet.

A decent, yet different winter warmer.

Serving type: on-tap

12-30-2010 23:07:23 | More by planetscott
Photo of bosox941827
bosox941827

North Carolina

3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had to try this at recommendation of a buddy...
A - Mostly brown but with prominent a garnet/violet tinge to it; almost no head and with no haze whatsoever; very clear.
S - A hint of winter spices off the nose (cinnamon/nutmeg) along with some malty sweetness
T - A very unique beer that's for sure; so the nose is confirmed by the taste - a glycerin-type of cinnamon/nutmeg/cocoa flavor at the front that is not really sweet, but is subtle and not over-powering; flavor also has hints of a children's chewable aspirin(!). That is all VERY quickly wiped away - literally - by the hop finish. The hops are similarly not over-powering, but they clean up the palate and lend a dry finish, something which you wouldn't expect given the flavors at the front. An interesting beer....
M - Average carbonation and fairly smooth. Hops lend a dry finish.
D - Could probably do two of these and that's about it, but that may just be me.
Glad I tried this one; very unique beer that I would definitely try again and would recommend.

Serving type: on-tap

12-26-2010 23:04:44 | More by bosox941827
Photo of cdizinno
cdizinno

South Carolina

4.72/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Reddish-copper color. Clear with a decent white head and moderate lacing all the way down.

S: NOt too much there. Mild spices, malts and undertones of hoppiness.

T&M: Great taste. Fruity, spicy and smooth. Full-bodied with a nicely balanced hop/malt taste.

Great beer. Highly drinkable just for the holidays.

Serving type: on-tap

12-20-2010 23:12:51 | More by cdizinno
Photo of MTNboy
MTNboy

Germany

3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

12-19-2010 11:57:11 | More by MTNboy
Photo of TheKingofWichita
TheKingofWichita

North Carolina

4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown mahogany color with a small tan head and a really heavy amount of lacing. Smells yeasty with a little hint of the malts coming through. Tastes of some bitterness from the hops, plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg, possibly some all spice. A little marshmallow in the background. Like sitting around a campfire. Mouthfeel is nice and thick with a little hiding carbonation. Drinkability is really good.

Serving type: on-tap

12-08-2010 14:03:11 | More by TheKingofWichita
Photo of PDXHops
PDXHops

South Carolina

2.33/5  rDev -42%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

12-07-2010 20:21:18 | More by PDXHops
Photo of norcar
norcar

North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Oh how I look forward to this year after year. Got it on tap on the release day in Asheville.

A: Uniform dark copper with a medium 1 1/2 finger head. Good lacing with some retention.

S: This is what I enjoy about the beer. It stands out with smells of strong vanilla, slight malts and spices.

T: This winter warmer starts off creamy with a solid balance of tastes of vanilla and malts matching the smell, and is followed up with a very slight hop taste at the end. Seems it is lacking in the complexity and spices as usually expected from years past.

M: Light and very easy to drink. Slight alcohol and good carbonation. Doesn't give you what you expect, very thin.

D: I can drink this beer day in and day out. Though it is not one of my prized beers for its rarity, style or just an amazing complex beer and it seems to be less spicey this year as years past, Cold Mountain is my comfort beer. It reminds me of past times, good friends and the holidays in WNC. So without and objective point of view, if you see it out pick it up and give it a try.

Serving type: on-tap

11-21-2010 12:54:35 | More by norcar
Photo of wcudwight
wcudwight

North Carolina

2.85/5  rDev -29.1%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

11-14-2010 08:55:38 | More by wcudwight
Photo of Bolendak
Bolendak

North Carolina

4.7/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What a beer this was! Cold Mountain Winter Ale is a brew that would make any NC native proud. I first had this pint at the Flying Saucer in Raleigh, NC after three friends ordered the a pint of this Highland beer, and urged me to do the same. As with any new beer I was a bit skeptical and anxious, however, Cold Mountain came through. The appearance was a dark rosy color similar to an amber ale. The smell was almost flowery, reminiscent of Samuel Adams Nobel Pils. I was a bit worried when I saw the beermaid presenting me with this pint, it had little to no head. I don't know if that was because of the beer itself or if the bartender simply didn't know how to pour a pint. It had a very light mouth feel, with almost no trace of bitterness. Very similar to Red Oak but it had more fruity hints to it, almost like a kind of grapey aftertaste. I loved Cold Mountain Winter Aile and would highly recommend it.

Serving type: on-tap

03-18-2010 06:46:36 | More by Bolendak
Photo of Deuane
Deuane

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Thirsty Monk South.

A-Bright brownish copper with a medium tan head. Head reduces to a thin cap and leaves nice thick, rope like lacing

S-Wafting notes of chocolate, with accenting vanilla, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. All of this melds very nicely and does not overwhelm.

T-Semi-sweet caramel along with some drying cocoa/chocolate malts up front. A potpourri blend backing with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, cedar and orange making this one feel like a Christmas cookie in a glass!

M-Medium bodied and fairly rich without being sickly sweet or too spicy, Long lingering flavour profile.

D-One of my most favorite spiced winter brews. A near perfect combination of malt and spice that makes this one SO easy to drink!

Serving type: on-tap

02-13-2010 22:02:54 | More by Deuane
Photo of thegodfather2701
thegodfather2701

North Carolina

4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a beautiful amber with a billowy slightly off white head. There is some nice cascading and lacing left on the glass.

S-Sweet and malty with a hint of vanilla.

T-Much like the nose as vanilla dominates. It starts out sweet but then ends with some lingering bitterness. There is a nice balance between the hops and malt, with the malt getting a slight edge.

M-Thick and creamy.

D-Very drinkable.

Overall, I am somewhat torn by this beer. While I did enjoy drinking it, it didn't have much complexity. It tasted just like vanilla coke which seemed both a positive and a negative. I gave it a solid 4 across the board and would definitely drink it again, but it doesn't come close to Anchor's annual offering.

Serving type: on-tap

01-30-2010 17:52:49 | More by thegodfather2701
Photo of ImusBeer
ImusBeer

Georgia

3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Draft, from Taco Mac, Suwanee, GA

Came with about a finger of off-white head, a tan color. The beer was a dark amber, almost brown not quite see-through but clear of haze. Lacing occured as I drank.
The smell was not very complex, I detected only oak. First taste gave me butterscotch along with Molassas, Malt, and a Whiskey aftertaste.

Mouthfeel was light with a slight bitterness and some sourness. Medium to low carbonation. Very flavourful and hardy, a nice Brown Ale.

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2009 15:45:57 | More by ImusBeer
Photo of rpjonesga
rpjonesga

Georgia

4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I just had this beer on tap at Taco Mac in Atlanta. I was very surprised with the vanilla / creamy flavor of this one. Unfortunately, the beer was served too cold which probably took away from some of its charm.

I really didn't detect much in the way of hops but the rich, malty character was just what I wanted from a winter ale.

Highly recommended!

Serving type: on-tap

11-21-2009 01:15:34 | More by rpjonesga
Photo of sholland119
sholland119

Pennsylvania

3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this '07 vintage in a growler from Loki in GatM. Thanks, Kipp.

A-Pours a clear ruby amber with a thin tan head and no lacing.

S-Sweet caramel malt, a bit of toffee and a little alcohol warmth.

T-Sweet caramel, brown sugar and some raisin with a little bit of nutmeg. Very nice.

M-Medium bodied, almost a bit thin for the style.

D-Tasty, very nicely aged. I will enjoy the rest of this growler.

HV

Serving type: growler

09-15-2009 01:02:43 | More by sholland119
Photo of dirtbag43
dirtbag43

California

4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very enjoyable seasonal brew. Warm and festive with several different characteristics noticeable with each sip making you want one drink after another. Thick and malty with a smooth, vanilla-like candy finish. I had mine at Barley's Taproom in Knoxville, just over the mountains from where they brew the beer in Asheville. Freshness was great and I made several more trips back to taste this beer.

Serving type: on-tap

01-06-2009 23:47:49 | More by dirtbag43
Photo of ncbeermonger
ncbeermonger

North Carolina

4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is seasonal, and tastes like christmas!

It pours a little dark, and has good head

Smells of nutmeg, cinnamon, and spice.

The taste is good, not over powering!

the mouthfeel is almost crisp, and not heavy

This is one of the most drinkable beers of its kind, check it out if you get a chance

Serving type: on-tap

12-15-2008 20:15:33 | More by ncbeermonger
Photo of hellomcfly
hellomcfly

South Carolina

4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just had this tasty brew twice over on tap. The word of the day is balance.

A - My pint arrives a nice brown-amber color with a small tan head. A good lacing clings to the walls of my pint glass.

I get a nice chocolate malt nose with some spice character as well. Nutmeg and cinnomin perhaps?

T - Last years brew screamed gingerbread cookie to me and this one not so much. Very well balanced between sweet malts and a nice hop touch. This is a tasty winter warmer with nice caramel and chocolate malts, nice christmasy spice, and enough hops to round it all out. This is a nicely balanced beer. Fantastic representation of the style in my opinion.

M - Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Coats the mouth smoothly.

D - I'd like to know the ABV on this. I had two of them on an empty stomach and caught a little buzz but it is a fairly easy drinker. Two seemed right for me.

Serving type: on-tap

12-08-2008 00:37:11 | More by hellomcfly
Photo of rtratzlaff
rtratzlaff

North Carolina

4.83/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served on tap in a 16 oz pint glass.

A deep brownish copper with a light head leaving little lacing.

Aromas are sweet with some spice character. Quite malty and interesting in the nose.

The taste is sweet up front with a cookie like malt character. Then some spice and just enough bittering to create a great flavor of... well a really good beer. Warming alcohol hits the belly and the flavors punch as the beer warms. This beer is a Christmas cookie in a glass. This is too good; I don't want to overanalyze it. Mouthfeel is medium with light carbonation. I could drink this throughout a cold December night. Here's to winter and a great beer to go with it!

Serving type: on-tap

12-02-2008 01:52:49 | More by rtratzlaff
Photo of yourefragile
yourefragile

District of Columbia

3.23/5  rDev -19.7%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-09-2008 01:25:11 | More by yourefragile
Photo of Cyberkedi
Cyberkedi

Georgia

4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured, it has a lovely dark brown color with a nice thick head. Aroma is spicy with a strong hint of cinnamon. The pleasant, zingy taste is malty with spice hints and very little bitterness. It goes down smoothly and is very satisfying. This holiday beer is a delight any time of the year, good by itself or as an accompaniment to a light meal.

Serving type: on-tap

04-22-2007 23:40:22 | More by Cyberkedi
Photo of atsprings
atsprings

North Carolina

4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, I was certain this beer was gone for this year when my friends and I visited Tyler's taproom in Carboro and found they still had this on draft! The waitress said they had pulled it aside several times so they would have it later than anyone else. The beer possessed a deep rich ruby color with a thin off white head that was moderately diminishing and left very spotty lacing on the glass. The aroma was of layers of malts with some mild spices present as well. The taste presented a very complex spice variety on top of a great malt backbone. There was a presence of both vanilla and dried fruit.The mouthfeel was low in carbonation and the alcohol was very well hidden by the spice blend. This is a very great beer for a cold winter night, I just wish it was available in stores for more than 2 to 3 weeks each year.

Serving type: on-tap

02-19-2007 04:23:39 | More by atsprings
Photo of kkipple
kkipple

South Carolina

2.48/5  rDev -38.3%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-16-2007 00:16:29 | More by kkipple
Photo of TheEclecticGent
TheEclecticGent

Georgia

4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This winter warmer is from one of my favorite breweries – Highland Brewing Company, Ashville, NC!! Salute! This beer pours a dark amber color with light carbonation. The smell is a deep spicy aroma. The taste is a deep and murky red “Scottish” ale flavor with spices and a nice molasses finish. The mouth feel is slightly heavy and full. This is a great beer, I need to go get more before the season passes.

Serving type: on-tap

12-31-2005 07:35:58 | More by TheEclecticGent
Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 532 ratings.