Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

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

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

307 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 307
Hads: 698
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 7.98%
Wants: 84
Gots: 109 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 307 | Hads: 698
Photo of Huhzubendah
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Lunch. Thanks Paul!

A: This brew appears clear and rusty orange / brown in color. The head is thin and wispy, but manages to generate a fair amount of lacing upon the glass.

S: Scents include vanilla, malt, alcohol.

T: This beer is quite different than I would have expected from a winter warmer. The flavor is remarkably similar to how I would imagine an alcoholic cream soda tastes. I happen to enjoy cream soda, so I'm totally cool with this unusual take on the style. Vanilla is the most forward flavor, followed by some sweet malt and light spice.

M: Thin bodied, with a fairly low level of carbonation.

D: A fun and interesting brew, but not something of which I would want too much. (711 characters)

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Winter 2003-2004 Release, Sampled August 2004.
Pours a deep amber-ruby color with an amber-tan head. Thick aromas of syrupy malt waft from my glass, I also get notes of caramelized oranges and cherries (which are strong enough that there might actually be some cherry additions to this beer). The taste is dry up front, but then moves to a weird, fruity note; cough syrup perhaps. This also has some interesting subdued dark malt character to it, a slightly acidic finish, as well as some candied cherry notes. The cherry is not nearly as strong in the taste as in the aroma. Up front this beer could just about pass for a malty Scottish ale. It is fairly light and interesting enough as a quaffing brew (good thing that I have a 1 liter bottle of this to enjoy). (764 characters)

Photo of tdm168
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber with a soft layer of white head that has little retention. The nose offers some mild spice and some intense vanilla extract notes. The flavor is much the same; the vanilla dominates with some subtle spices and a little fruitiness throughout. The fruitiness is cherry-like, both tart and sweet. The finish is a little medicinal to me. I think it's the combination of vanilla and fruit. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and lightly carbonated, but it's viscous and syrupy at times.

I'm glad that this isn't just another winter warmer with ginger and cinnamon. I like the fruitiness here, but I find the medicinal off notes in the finish a little unpleasant. I probably wouldn't have this again, but I do like what they were going for with this one. (764 characters)

Photo of yourefragile
3.22/5  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. (1,068 characters)

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
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. (461 characters)

Photo of corby112
3.15/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to kubrick215 for sharing.

Pours a hazy dark amber/copper color with a one finger beige head that slowly fades into a lasting ring.  Sporadic spotty lacing left behind.  

Earthy, leathery malt aroma with an odd syrupy medicinal presence along with some dark fruit and heavy spices.  Hints of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla bean followed by cherry juice, plum and raspberry.

Medium bodied wih a dry, medicinal flavor along with a heavy vanilla and spice presence.   Lots of dark fruit and sweet caramel malt sweetness with notes of hazelnut, toffee, raspberry, cherry juice and lots of vanilla.  Floral/potpourri like with zesty cinnamon and clove spiciness.  Really weird combination of flavors.  Not bad but a few ounces was more than enough for me. (768 characters)

Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev -0.2%
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. (481 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received in trade from KarrHeel03, thanks for the opportunity.
Pours a clear reddish amber color with a stingy white head that recedes quickly but laces the sides quite nicely. Smells of sweet malts and spices. I pick up some cocoa, brown sugar, molasses, plums or prunes, and a touch of alcohol. There's a subtle spice in the nose that is quite non-descript but really pleasant. Taste is sweet brown sugar and alcohol up front. Dark fruits and a tease of hop bitterness on the tongue mid way through. Medium-dry sweet malty sugary finish. Ample carbonation, slick syrupy mouthfeel, medium bodied brew. I really enjoyed this one on this cold snowy day. I think it all comes together really well. (695 characters)

Photo of Zorro
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled through the efforts of mikesgroove and Battlecruiser BIF.

This is a clear reddish brown colored beer without much head formation.

The smell is sweet and candy like and reminds me a lot of 'sweet tea" as served in the Southern United States. Strong caramel and brown sugar aromas along with a little spice that I can't identify except for the vanilla and cinnamon.

The taste begins sweet with a VERY strong vanilla flavor and an egg custard taste. WOW this is one beer with a HEAVY vanilla flavor to it, if you don't like that taste then this will be beer hell on Earth for you. After a while the vanilla relents a bit and the taste changes to a New Orleans bread pudding flavor.

The mouthfeel is good.

Eh...drinkability is hard to determine. Too much vanilla. This is the kissing cousin of cream soda. This is a beer where one flavor has really has really taken over. Real simple a beer for vanilla lovers period. (936 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a ruby-tinted caramel coloring with a thin, sparse, surface coating of foam. Aromas of roasted nut sweetness, plum, dates, raisins, berries, toffee and caramel in the backbone, and a subtle cinnamon spicing. Smells are rich, but light enough to refrain from overpowering. Flavors are roasted and rich forward, with a tart and tangy berry and nut sweetness blending on the palate, with some woody and subtle bitter highlights. The body is robust, but light, with a transition into a crisp, clean finish. The aftertaste is more of the caramel and toffee sweetness, although some fruity notes do linger through. Easy drinker and full of flavor. (694 characters)

Photo of akorsak
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 1 L swingtop bottle courtesy of Deuane.

A: The ale is a dark amber, a full brown color of turbid cider or iced tea. Decent head on multiple tours.

S: The nose is not your normal mulled winter warmer, it has incredible depth and complexity. Vanilla bean is dominant, sitting atop cinnamon, powdered chocolate and faint tart cherries. Full without the bland spice complex many WWs have.

T: The ale is full of dark caramel and chocolate malts. Full nuttiness with some toffee drives the base of the ale. Vanilla bean flavors remain the center of attention but much more happens throughout the ale. A faint sour cherry flavor provides a warming undertone that mixes freely with some boozy warmth. Brown sugar, cinnamon, powdered cocoa all have their moment in the sun providing a nuanced flavor that is very pleasant to sip on.

M: Lots of spices make this a filling, delicious ale. With so much happening, you really need to take your time with it and allow each element to slowly emerge.

D: Boozy and strong, this is not a quaffing beer. Spend a few hours getting to know a bottle. (1,085 characters)

Photo of plaid75
2.45/5  rDev -38.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured a deep amber hue with a wisp of white foam atop. There was little retention and lacing.

The smell featured a strong sweet cereal aroma with a healthy dose of vanilla. Some nutmeg detected as well.

The taste consists of and astringent cinammon and nutmeg flavor with an overdose of vanilla. Very medicinal in the bitterness.

The mouthfeel was thin with an uncomfortable astringency.

Overall I was disappointed in this beer. Perhaps it is past its prime. Either way, I couldn't finish it. (505 characters)

Photo of Wasatch
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to slcbrewer for this brew.

22oz. Bomber

Pours a slightly cloudy amber color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy tannish head, some sticky lacing follows. The nose is sweet, malty, and lots of caramel. The taste follows the nose pretty much. Slightly dry finish. Medium body. Drinkable, a nice little WW, but not that high in alcohol content. (356 characters)

Photo of Axnjxn
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

rereview 12oz bottle into a FW tulip. 10/30/13 bottling date consumed 3 weeks later.

Pours a dark amber color with a nice inch thick head. Aroma is almost nonexistent...maybe a tad of caramel? not much at all. The taste is quite different though...a bit sweet with a good amount of caramel and toffee flavors that linger on the palate for quite awhile. Biggest thing about this beer is its drinkability...you could drink it all day and in a hurry... almost light bodied with mild carbonation.

Overall this is an old favorite among North Carolinian's and honestly shouldnt get such high marks nowadays. Its still good, just not amazing. (637 characters)

Photo of ppoitras
4.07/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1L bottle from Secret Santa ninjaworm. Wax sealed swing-top. Cool.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" light tan head above a deep copper brew. Head shrinks pretty quickly, but still eaves a coating of uneven bubbles, and lacing is average. Aroma is sweetly of malts, coupled with a seemingly peat component. Not smoky, more of an earthy contribution there, maybe their yeast strain, never had anything from Highland before. Taste is a combination of sweet maltiness, earthy tones, and possibly a vanilla bean or two. Certainly a lot going on here, but it all comes together nicely. Mouthfeel is good, and drinkability is excellent. Nice offering here, with a cool package and a pleasing product. (713 characters)

Photo of beertunes
3.2/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into 10oz glass. Poured a clean, clear ruby-brown color with just the thinnest cap of slightly off-white head that no retention or lacing.

The aroma is very much a sweet malt bomb. There are some hints of raisins or other sweet fruits. Not much, a bit, of show through. The flavors very similar, with the addition a sticky-sweet finish.

Mouthfeel and drinkability were both average for the style. Overall, a decent, if not spectacular, example of the style. Worth a shot if you see it. (494 characters)

Photo of AlexFields
4.52/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

EDIT: the recipe for this beer changes every year and this review is based on the winter 2010-11 vintage.

I've had this beer many times, mostly from bottles but also on tap. This review is a summation of my love affair with this awesome beer rather than notes from any particular tasting.

A: Just looks like a brown ale. Which makes sense, considering they use a brown ale as the base. Nice brown color and a really nice head for a brown ale, but nothing remarkable.

S: At this point it's hard for me to separate the nose from the taste on this, as when I smell it I can't help but imagine what I'm about to taste. That said, the nose is weaker than the taste. Smells sweet and creamy, recognize as a brown ale but obviously some spices going on, maybe some vanilla.

T: Amazing! The brown ale base is apparent, but much sweeter and richer than a standard brown ale and with little hint of the slight roasty tartness common to brown ales. Instead, you get huge creamy flavors. Winter spices here for sure, the kind of stuff you would put into a pumpkin pie, but they work their magic here in a subtle way and don't dominate the flavor. Some vanilla flavor too. It all works together perfectly.

M: Extraordinarily smooth and creamy. Like drinking silk, if silk were a tasty beverage. The mouthfeel is the most unique and memorable thing about this beer, I always look forward to it and it always matches or exceeds my expectations. Never had anything else quite like it. Just fantastic. Almost like a cask beer coming out of a bottle.

Overall: One of my all time favorite beers. Before I had this beer, I had very little regard for anything described as a "winter warmer," and in fact I still haven't had anything else from that category that really impressed me, but I like this beer so much that I'm willing to afford respect to the category just based on what Cold Mountain proves its potential to be. I just wish this stuff were easier to find outside of Asheville! A few bottles a year is not enough.

9.4/10 (2,017 characters)

Photo of Bitterbill
3.93/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Obtained in a trade with Brentk56. Thanks a bunch!!

To start off, I have the 1L taped swing top bottle ...it's very cool looking.

It pours into my New Belgium chalice a very nice amber with a smallish head of foam. It doesn't stick around very long and I'm left with just a ring around the edge of the glass and there's just a tiny bit of lacing.

The smell...I'm getting a huge whiff of vanilla, malt, and some other spices.

The taste is also very big on the vanilla with a nice burnt caramel malt backing it up. Swishing the Ale in mouth, I get a bit of citrus tartness and some chocolate notes and that has me smacking my mouth. This is a very unusual tasting sample of the style and I'm liking it.

The finish is on the bitterish side with flavours of hot cocoa and it leaves a pleasing long lasting aftertaste. I'm not getting too much warming so either the abv is fairly low or it's really well hidden. A *very* nice drop indeed. I'm glad I got this one in the trade. :^) (991 characters)

Photo of cjgator3
3.99/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bottle

A- Pours a dark brown color with a light tan colored head that leaves sporadic lacing around the glass.

S- The aroma is nice and malty with a good dose of cocoa and spices. I'm surprised at the amount of cocoa in the aroma, it really adds a nice dimension. The aroma is fantastic and immediately reminds me of the holidays.

T- The taste is a little on the sweet side with a lot of malt and cocoa flavors but there are just enough spices in the taste to help balance the sweetness out.

M- The mouthfeel is a little lighter than I would expect from a winter warmer.

D- This one's pretty drinkable, I'd be interested to find out what the ABV of this beer is. It doesn't seem to be all that high so it is a pretty solid drinker. (742 characters)

Photo of glid02
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours a clear "old-penny" copper color with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of light caramel malts with hints of toffee and good amounts of vanilla. As the beer warms the vanilla aromas intensify.

Tastes good. Mild caramel malt flavors up front are quickly joined by hints of toffee and large amounts of vanilla flavors. Midway through the sip a touch of leafy hop flavors enter into things before fading into the background to make way for a mildly sweet finish.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a smooth thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I didn't have a problem finishing my glass and could have another.

Overall this is lighter on spices than many winter warmers however I have to say that I enjoy it more than many winter warmers. Well worth a shot. (894 characters)

Photo of Gusler
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After its release from the 1 liter swing top brown bottle, it resides in the glass a slightly hazy deep amber to copper color with a moderate in size frothy light tan head that erodes rather quickly leaving a satisfactory sheet of lace to cover the glass. Nose is sweet malt with hints of vanilla, nut-like, caramel corn also comes to mind, and fresh and appetizing, start is somewhat sweet with a decent grain presence and the top middling in its feel to the palate. Finish is benignly acidic with a delightful hop spiciness and quite dry aftertaste, a quite drinkable beer that I savored over a couple of days (611 characters)

Photo of rudzud
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Received as extra in a trade.

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a crystal clear mahogany hue with a good two finger creamy off white head that faded to leave a thin quarter inch blanket and nice lacing.

S - Nice caramel and toffee along with biscuits and malts. Very gentle spice notes.

T - Taste is nice, light caramel and sweeter toffee. Twinge of metallic notes and faint typical winter spices. Actually some alcohol too, which, is rather odd.

M - Mouthfeel is a bit on the thinner side. Light carbonation here.

O - Overall, not a bad beer, just everything is a bit too subtle. Plus, I shouldnt be getting alcohol in a 5.8% beer. (635 characters)

Photo of avalon07
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to an imperial pint glass. Had an amber color and a slightly hazy consistency. There was a small amount of foamy head that quickly dissipated and good lacing.

S: A nice aroma of sweet malt, spices and a somewhat fruity quality.

T: Tasted of malt, cinnamon, some other spices, and mild fruit (at least that's what it seemed like to me). Nicely balanced, clean flavor.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a very dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: A very good winter warmer. Extremely drinkable. (516 characters)

Photo of dirtylou
4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber, brought from nc by blackie, on his tractor

appearance: pours light but richens up in the aggregate to a deep copper color, a light foamy beige head forms and leaves a light lacing around the rim

smell: loads of spices - nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, touch a clove...definitely smells of the season...gingerbread, light chocolate, graham cracker aromas..smooth hoppiness, touch of pine

taste: quite tasty, very delicate...tastes like gingerbread, quite nice cinnamon flavours, a very light chocolate flavour in the background...some clove, nutmeg, and other spices of the season...fresh but subdued lightly piney hops, perhaps a touch of pumpkin

mouthfeel: a little thin, moderate carbonation, very delicate on the tongue

drinkability: very drinkable (773 characters)

Photo of DefenCorps
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Woohoo! First tick for 2011. I picked this up over Thanksgiving in Asheville after being very impressed with a pint I had on tap (2010 Winter edition).

A beautiful, clear mahogany with a dense, off-white head with excellent retention, there isn't much to show for lacing apart from some patchy foam. Clarity is exceptional, this is a particularly attractive beer. The nose is great too, like I remember it being. A touch of spice is present with cinnamon and mace, I also get some brown sugar and a prominent vanilla note. The combination is dessert-like, but this still smells light. Hops are mild, there's some earthy, mildly leafy and mineral-like hop aroma present. Solid.

The palate opens with a blend of light brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon. A light but simple sweetness, a blend of brown sugar and burnt sugar is present. Notes of vanilla and maple appear in the mid-palate. Drying on the finish with the hops asserting their presence, there's a blend of earthy, leafy bitterness and lingering vanilla. Light in body with medium-high carbonation, this is an enjoyable beer. I preferred this on tap, where it was a lot creamier, but even out of a bottle, it's still the best Winter Warmer out there. (1,207 characters)

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 307 ratings.