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 hunteraw
hunteraw

China

3.4/5  rDev -15.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2007 20:43:10 | More by hunteraw
Photo of flexabull
flexabull

California

4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of Loki. Thank you very much!

Cool looking big 1 liter bottle. Pours with a nice clear copper color, and a good head.

Aromas are faint, but what I do notice are some sweet and creamy notes.

Flavors are creamy with a lot of spice flavors, with vanilla being the most prominent. There is also a slightly smokey and apple like quality to this as well. Very interesting and flavorful beer.

Mouthfeel is good, maybe a touch light for my tastes though.

Very drinkable beer. Well made, and very interesting. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Certainly worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2007 01:21:43 | More by flexabull
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 mwearl
mwearl

North Carolina

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

Amber color, nice body and extremely drinkable. This is a beer whose flavor absolutely changes and gets better with age. Save this years' beer in a cool place and drink it next winter and you will see what I mean. The smooth flavor has a distinctive chocolate finish.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2007 04:38:00 | More by mwearl
Photo of Westsidethreat
Westsidethreat

California

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

Thanks to KilgoreTrout27 for this beer. Been wanting to try it for a while now.

A: Amber mahagony, clean and refined with a few dozen lazy streams up bubbles rising to the surface. Head has a good consistency to it, sort of a sandy color.

S: Cherries, molasses, butterscotch and marshmallow.

T: A lot of vanilla and butterscotch up front. Not at the level that its cloying or overbearing, a nice level. Delicate cherries, strawberries and perhaps apricot add an underlying fruity flavor. As it warms the spices start to come out; sasparilla and cinnamon primarily. Very doughy as well, this is almost like drinking a liquid christmas cookie. A very faint hop bite can be found in the finish, just enough to add more depth. Aftertaste is long lingering cookie dough and of course...vanilla/butterscotch.

M: Medium body, full and silky mouthfeel.

D: This beer could have gone either way. With that much vanilla/butterscotch flavor it could easilly be cloying, artificial or overbearing. The fact that I killed an entire 22oz without the sugar weighing on me speaks volumes. One of the more under rated winter warmers on the market, a beer that doesn't get much publicity. Its very similar to the Winter Solstice from Anderson Valley but blows it out of the water. This was probably the second best domestic winter warmer I had this year.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2007 01:29:57 | More by Westsidethreat
Photo of rodrot
rodrot

North Carolina

3.35/5  rDev -16.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2007 20:36:02 | More by rodrot
Photo of ChainGangGuy
ChainGangGuy

Georgia

3.4/5  rDev -15.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2007 06:45:44 | More by ChainGangGuy
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 tastybeer
tastybeer

North Carolina

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

Clear, warm, redish brown color under a creamy khaki colored head. Head is nicely sized and leaves an 1/8" layer once it fades. Lace is spotty and shifty. Smell is loaded with sweet aromas fitting of the holiday season. Sugary plum, maple, ginger, sugar cookies, and vanilla frosting mixed into grain and caramel malts. There's even some brighter aromas like cranberry and orange coming through. Generally well blended and pleasantly sweet. Taste has good depth and thick maltiness. Spiced and sweet flavors softly bittered with hops. Nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon... A nice festive wintery beer that is not excessively spiced like some winter warmers tend to be. Mouthfeel is smooth and coating. Very drinkable.

This would be great for or with dessert.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2007 05:22:11 | More by tastybeer
Photo of wedge
wedge

North Carolina

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

Deep brownish red with a fluffy, soapy head. Smells exactly like frosting covered gingerbread cookies...wow. Sweet malty flavor nicely layered with ginger and other spices - mapley figs. Rich and complex. Solid mouthfeel with a fullish body and light carbonation. Pretty darn tasty winter ale...excellent on tap as well if you can find it.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2007 05:01:02 | More by wedge
Photo of SilentSabre
SilentSabre

North Dakota

4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was a little darker, and much sweeter than I expected. Poured a crystal clear dark orange bronze colour. Big soapy frothy khaki coloured head hung around for a while. It looked pretty nice. Smell was fairly hoppy, and a little sweet. Sweet grain, actually. Taste was completely different than I had expected based on smell. Bitter citrus hops up front, quickly quelled by sweet, toasted malty flavours. Delicious, actually. I was quite surprised. I liked this more than I thought I would. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, and very smooth and easy drinking. I must say, I'm quite surprised.

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2007 02:27:58 | More by SilentSabre
Photo of barleywinebrewer
barleywinebrewer

New Hampshire

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

I got this via trade! Seems this was the 05 version which differs from the 06. Many people seem to be on either side as to which year is better. My take - this is one of the more intriguing winter warmers I've had in recent memory. I am very happy to have gotten 2 so I can enjoy the other on another evening.

A - Rich red color, frothy white head takes a while to dissipate.
S- A combination of toffee, vanilla and tea. Malty but with a dry character.
T - Similar to the aroma but so much more complex. This one toys with your taste buds!
M - Medium bodied, nicely carbonated and dry in the finish.
D - Easy drinking, tasty drinking, Yes I'll have another. A winter brew that even at 22oz has you considering a second bottle.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2007 13:50:42 | More by barleywinebrewer
Photo of dgallina
dgallina

Georgia

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

1 pint, 9 fluid ounce brown bottle without freshness dating.

Pours clear copper-tinged brown, with thin creamy tan head and great lace retention. Smells enticingly spicy and doughy. Primarily orange, ginger, cinnamon, and anise on a cookie and caramel malt base. Flavor strongly favors the Christmas spices. Doughy anise, ginger and orange are dominant notes and form something of a less-fruity liquid fruitcake. Finishes with gently drying hop touches, big black pepper, and cinnamon. Nicely balanced body keeps this easy-drinking throughout. Very good and the best of the Highland brews I've sampled so far.

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2007 18:47:41 | More by dgallina
Photo of Neehan
Neehan

North Carolina

4.7/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this as a Christmas gift from my favorite local store as a thank-you for patronage. The establishment will remain nameless so that they don't get hammered for freebies ;) but I must say I love these guys and I am very appreciative...And I must say this was a hell of a gift.

This poured a dark, rich and shiny amber with a small head an not much retention but the head remained as a nice ring.

The smell is of rich malts that fill the nose with mouth-watering, spicy complexities.

The taste mimics the smell but with a hint of dark roasts with a slightly burning finish. Incredible, and perhaps the smoothest winter ale I've had.

The mouthfeel is also solid, with a perfect balance of complexity yet quite smooth.

Easily the most drinkable winter ale I have had due to its smoothness and outstanding taste. If you are lucky enough to get this, then buy it, it's fantastic!!

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2007 03:47:20 | More by Neehan
Photo of smurfyou
smurfyou

North Carolina

2.55/5  rDev -36.6%
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...

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2007 22:16:45 | More by smurfyou
Photo of mountaingirl88
mountaingirl88

North Carolina

4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this years taste from the Weinhaus in Asheville. Hard to come by, but well worth it. Loved it better than last years. Enjoyed the hazelnut flavor. Not crazy about all the vanilla, especially with the after taste. Smell and drinkability are absolutly delicious. I have had this in both the bottle and on draft. Prefer bottle, but since that's all gone draft will have to do. Usual Suspects is my favorite draft spot for this beer. They keep it nice and cold and still have some left!

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2007 18:27:36 | More by mountaingirl88
Photo of Georgiabeer
Georgiabeer

Georgia

3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a light head and no real lacing. Looks a little richer than it turns out to be. Smells of soft vanilla and hazlenuts- a little sweet on the nose. Taste has a lot of vanilla up front- probably too much- followed by some soft hops and a final malt creaminess. The mouthfeel is a little thin, but there is a nice creaminess. A very drinkable beer, but I was expecting more. This feels a little simplistic and not the classic I was hoping for.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2006 04:14:01 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of bjohnson
bjohnson

Massachusetts

4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A gift from warriorsoul...I think by way of aksmokedporter. Two pillars of trading.

A: Pours a dark rust color with a slight bit of purple hues. Nice frothy one finger head dissipates rather quickly unfortunately. Slight skim of retention.
S: An interesting caramel fruit essence. Big dark fruit presence, figs, nuts, and a bit of butterscotch. Surprisingly sweet smelling--figs are definitely big time here. A slight bit of cocoa.
T/M: Holy Fig! Figs and nuts galore with a sweet underbelly of butterscotch, maple syrup, and plums. Figs again, with a nice nestle cocoa powder flavor. Body starts out thick but then thins out pretty fast. Slightly bitter in the finish with that fig aftertaste. The fig tastes aren't bad or overwhelming, but just have a nice firm hold on this brew. Theres also a floral presence and I'm thinking of petunias, but that could be way off.
D: An interesting offering and one that I'm glad I tried--a bit off the course for me, though I really enjoyed it. This is one of the most unique and interesting beers I've ever had. Wonderful flavors and a bit complex.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2006 01:22:02 | More by bjohnson
Photo of brentk56
brentk56

North Carolina

3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 vintage

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber color with a modest head that leaves a few splotches of lacing

Smell: Burnt caramel, orange peel, undiscernable winter spices and vanilla

Taste: Starts out rather malty with spice cake, orange peel and vanilla flavors; after the swallow, the lightly hopped bitterness adds balance; vanilla flavors linger after the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body, velvety; moderate carbonation

Drinkability: An enjoyable beer with a somewhat unique flavor profile but not one that you can drink in quantity

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2006 20:04:00 | More by brentk56
Photo of weeare138
weeare138

Pennsylvania

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

Thanks to hopdog for unleashing this '05 bottle at the tasting...
Appears a semi-transparent orange toned brown with an ivory white head that fades into a collar. Little streaks of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of caramel, vanilla, juniper, orange peel, cranberries, and biscuits.
Taste is of the aromas with a highlight of caramel and berries.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, mildly spiced, along with a light sourness that fades into a wild spiced and hopped finish.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2006 19:39:35 | More by weeare138
Photo of NClifestyle
NClifestyle

North Carolina

3.38/5  rDev -15.9%
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...

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2006 15:01:05 | More by NClifestyle
Photo of RedwoodGeorge
RedwoodGeorge

California

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

I just love using the word "mahogany" when describing a beer so I'm happy to say this beer pours a clear deep mahogany color with a dense one finger tan head. The crown dies off after a while and doesn't leave much in the way of lacing on the inside of the glass.

The aroma is out of this world with exotic spices and warm, comforting notes. There's a clear vanilla note along with coriander and a fruit or two all riding on a deep caramel-thick sweet note.

The flavor is complex, balanced and (thankfully) far from overly sweet. There's a clean caramel note at the base with hints of apple, raspberry and peach adding quite a bit of depth. On top of that is an interesting blend of spices including nutmeg, coriander and allspice. There's also a bit of spruce in the flavorings with an almost bubblegum like note. There are enough flavors in each sip that you keep going back because you know there's one more that you missed in the last sip.

Mouthfeel is spot-on. Despite the tendency towards sweetness this is a medium bodied brew with no cloying mouthfeel and enough carbonation to liven up each sip. While there's not really any hop present in the aroma or flavor, there's a reasonable amount of bittering at the end of each sip leaving a nice dry finish. I know Highland is increasing the ABV now that the cap has been lifted in NC but there's no hint of alcohol burn or sweetness anywhere in this brew.

All in all this is a very flavorful brew and one more reason why I like winter seasonals so much. It's not something I'd want to drink as an 'everyday' brew but as something special that comes around once a year, this is certainly something special.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2006 02:52:39 | More by RedwoodGeorge
Photo of Backer2004
Backer2004

North Carolina

4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Too bad it was 92 degrees outside in the sun at a BBQ when I had this. Absolutely delectable, my favorite Highland brew so far. Not just a nice smell of chocolate and vanilla, but the same taste as well. Even on the colder side, the flavors really come out. Would love to get a whole bunch of this six months from now.

Serving type: bottle

05-30-2006 01:27:36 | More by Backer2004
Photo of LuckySevens82
LuckySevens82

Florida

4.58/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle courtesy of Jason at Knightly Spirits.
Pours a deep reddish brown with about a finger of deep tan head. Retention is lacking, but lacing and collar are quite nice.
Smell is deep cocoa, some caramel, toffee, and slight hops. Dark fruits abound and are all covered in a chocolate scent. Cherries, plums, etc, are present, all cordial and all very nice.
Flavor is profound chocolate, almost like hot cocoa. Chocolate covered cherries, slight to moderate hop bitterness and just a hint of bakers chocolate round this one out.
Mouthfeel is full and wonderful.
Overall, an exceptional winter beer worthy of a cold night or any other night for that matter. This is a beer worth seeking out no matter the cost. I have yet to have an even mediocre beer from Highland, and this exceeds all expectaion. Just darn great.

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2006 02:16:35 | More by LuckySevens82
Photo of thaichile
thaichile

New Jersey

4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. 22oz. Pours a deep red with hardly any head. Scents of spice on the nose. Delicious spiced fruit cake with some marshmellows and vanilla flavoring. Maybe my favorite winter to this point. Can't wait to have it again. Thanks to derrickt007 for the bottle.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2006 20:20:02 | More by thaichile
Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 532 ratings.