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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

554 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 554
Reviews: 297
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 13.18%
Wants: 68
Gots: 48 | FT: 3
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
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Ratings: 554 | Reviews: 297 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of barleywinebrewer
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.

barleywinebrewer, Jan 09, 2007
Photo of elgiacomo
2.85/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

2009 22oz. bottle.

Pours red/copper/brown with a small off-white head that dissipates quickly to a light ring. Very little lacing.

Sweet aroma, caramel malt, vanilla, some dark fruit.

Flavor is underwhelming, some black cherries, caramel malt, vanilla, spice, but rather weak and watery. Somewhat medicinal.

Mouthfeel is low on carbonation, pretty thin, yet manages to get a bit sticky long after the finish.

A fair amount of local hype on this one and I was not terribly impressed for my first one. Coulda got an '08, but I will check it out again next year.

elgiacomo, Jan 04, 2010
Photo of joepais
4.58/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to brentk56 for sending this want along in his black booty package 22oz bomber poured in to my DFH snifter produced a two finger tan head that trailed of to a thick lace the body of the brew was a nice burgandy color when held to the light

The aromas coming of it are quite pleasing Coco not roasted in any ways, some sweet caramel malt, vanilla and other spices I associate with winter.

The flavor is quite a surprise, I really like it. The ale was like a malted milk chocolate, but the wrong color if you know what I mean. Just a creamy and full in the mouth as I would expect. The sweetness was there along with the vanilla.

I was really blow away by this one and will defiantly look for it again next year. A great winter warmer one of the best I have tried

joepais, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of sommersb
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. brown bottle with no date code evident
Poured into a nonic pint

Bright, bronze-colored beer with a slight haziness to it. The head was frothy and about 4 fingers worth. The head stuck around for quite a while, and lacing was good.

At first I smell caramel malts, then some vanilla spices, then some faint hop aromas. The more the beer warms to room temperature I also get a spiciness that makes me think of whiskey.

Very nice and complex taste. At the beginning it had some biting tartness to it. Lightly sweet with the vanilla and peppery spices coming through more and more as I drank. A light bitterness is present from the hops. As the beer warmed up, I tasted an alcohol warmth and, as in the smell, what seemed like a whiskey flavor.

The mouthfeel was moderately-high carbonated, with a medium body. The finish was dry. Aftertaste had warming alcohol and spices on it.

This is an excellent beer and I would love to have this again next year.

sommersb, Feb 21, 2011
Photo of tastybeer
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.

tastybeer, Jan 12, 2007
Photo of beergeek279
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the wax-sealed 1L swingtop jug, into a pint glass. The color is tawny brown, with a wisp of white head. The smell is a strong raisiny/plum sweetness. The taste is a strong caramel/toffee flavor, with a bit of plum in the flavor and just the lightest touch of hops. Mouthfeel is average. As for drinkability, could have a few.

Thanks to AKSmokedPorter and BIF 8.0 for this bottle. I admit I started by giving this one a 3.8, but as it warmed...wow, so many tastes came out that I just had to adjust my scores. I'm surprised that a sub-6% beer can be this complex, but somehow it manages. Quite good, and this is one I'd likely have again!

beergeek279, Jul 20, 2004
Photo of bjohnson
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.

bjohnson, Dec 30, 2006
Photo of Stigs
3/5  rDev -25.4%

Stigs, Dec 17, 2011
Photo of bmjivi221
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

bmjivi221, Jul 21, 2013
Photo of BeerBeast
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

BeerBeast, Dec 01, 2013
Photo of johntfox
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

johntfox, Jan 13, 2014
Photo of cp45
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%

cp45, Feb 23, 2014
Photo of SilentSabre
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.

SilentSabre, Jan 11, 2007
Photo of seanchai
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

seanchai, Jun 24, 2014
Photo of SPLITGRIN
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A fluffy three finger light tan head has nice retention leaving scattered lace as it fades. Body is an incredibly dark brown with ruby notes when held to light. Nose is big and malty with some rich spicey roasty notes. Candied malts awaken the taste buds on first sip. Like well made pie crust sprinkled with cinnamon. Nicely balanced and very smooth throughout the palate. A wonderful winter brew or year round pleaser. For that matter. Maybe a hint of cherry pie filling also. Very pleasant mouthfeel on the sweet side. I would love to have lots of these in my fridge.

SPLITGRIN, Jul 28, 2008
Photo of GeorgiaBeerGuy
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%

GeorgiaBeerGuy, Jun 23, 2013
Photo of sansho
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

sansho, Nov 21, 2012
Photo of kkipple
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.

kkipple, Jan 16, 2007
Photo of qcbrewer
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

qcbrewer, Jan 17, 2014
Photo of Cloaked_Phantom
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%

Cloaked_Phantom, Jan 01, 2014
Photo of Reaper16
3.15/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

served on-tap @ Downtown Pub, Tuscaloosa, AL, into a pint glass

Pours an amber, nearly copper color. Decent clarity to the body. Nice, frothy buttermilk colored head of nearly 1.5 fingers.

The aroma is very sweet, like you stuck your head in a bag full of pastries. Lots of vanilla and cinnamon, but also a lot of buttered bread.

That carries through to the palate as well. Its like eating a pastry. Or, rather, drinking one. Its too buttery for my tastes, but there's nothing bad here.

Overall, this is a strange beer. It's heavy in terms of sweetness, but the excellent-carbonated body is light. The flavor says "sip me" but the mouthfeel says "gulp me." This is a nice beer, but you have to be in the mood for a cinnamon and butter and vanilla bomb.

Reaper16, Dec 10, 2012
Photo of VncentLIFE
4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I used a pilsner flute for this one. Pours a deep caramel with an eggshell head. decent carbonation.

Smells sweet, very sweet and full of buiscut malt. a touch of bittering hops. touches of cinnamon and vanilla.

Tastes like a cookie. Buiscut malt is really the main flavor here. And it dominates. Light body. As for spices, I get cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and somehow ginger. there is a bit of a dry bitterness that I associate with cranberries. All that sweetness is kept in check by the cranberries and a touch of bittering hops.

The buiscut malt leaves a powdery feeling while all the spices tingle the tongue. Well put together, and worth the search.

VncentLIFE, Nov 07, 2011
Photo of ksimons
3.81/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A-kind of a amber ruby color with a fingers worth of head that leaves some lacing around the top

S-the smell is nice, caramel and warm winter spices

T-caramel malt, light vanilla, slight bitterness, and spices

M-medium body, moderate carbonation

Overall it is easy to drink but to me is not very exciting. I do like how the beer isn't overly sweet like a lot of winter warmers can be.

ksimons, Dec 23, 2013
Photo of carrollmel7
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%

carrollmel7, Dec 08, 2012
Photo of CHADMC3
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a walnut brown body with a semi-foamy, semi-creamy, deep tan head packed with dense bubbles of carbonation giving way to a pleasant sticky lacing to match.

This is a very unique balance of hop bitterness and sweet caramel malt in the aroma. Almost a candy like quality to the aroma as well as dark fruits, perhaps raisins, and even a little cream or vanilla. As the beer warms the spice becomes more apparent to the nose.

The palate is equally interesting, but very different than what the aroma suggested. Much more sweet malt, caramel, molasses, vanilla, possibly cocoa and sweet nuts, and a hint of spices, all which hide the faint hop bitterness.

Medium to full in body, creamy, just a bit of spice, and medium carbonation. This is a hearty winter brew.

Thanks to my sister for getting this to me as a present from NC, this was a great beer. I'm enjoying it a little late in the season, but I will be requesting this again in the future. One of the better examples of the style I have had in a while.

CHADMC3, May 18, 2009
Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 554 ratings.