Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter AleHighland Cold Mountain Winter Ale

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308 Reviews
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Reviews: 308
Hads: 700
Avg: 4.01
pDev: 19.95%
Wants: 86
Gots: 112 | 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

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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 308 | Hads: 700
Photo of nickss
4.01/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful deep amber hue with a monstrous cap of rocky cream colored foam.

Smells faintly of hops and malt... however I can't pick up on much else.

Unlike the smell, the taste is an explosion of different flavours... The first I picked up on was gingerbread, followed by subdued brown sugar... cinnamon follows closely behind. None of these are overwhelming, but rather are beautifully balanced against each other.

Medium bodied, and fairly active on the tongue.

Extremely drinkable... I wish this brew was a bit cheaper so I could grab a few more, although at $11 for a Litre, I suppose its not a bad deal.

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Photo of John1985
4.17/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Deep brown color with a small quarter-inch head;
S- Light spicy, molasses aroma;
T- Sweet malt burst reminiscent of spice cake with a mild hop tingle that provides just enough balance to offset the malt sweetness.
M & D-This was a very smooth and enjoyable ale. I'm not much for spices but this was very good.

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Photo of Thur123
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This brew pours a dark ruby red out of the bomber with very little khaki head and a somewhat hazy look. The smell is wood spices, like cinnamon and mahogany maybe. There is a lighter sweeter smell that I can't exactly pick out, and the malt seems complex but restrained.

Glug glug glug

Well, this is pretty good. The flavor this with big roasted malt characters with a nutty taste in addition to a slightly chocolate aftertaste. At one point this reminds me of Kaluha, in a good way; after the cocoa taste is a kind of creaminess that's blended with winter spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg. By the way, also towards the beginning of the flavor profile is a slightly bitter hop bite that soon takes a back seat to the crazy malt goodness. The moth feel works well on this one. Over all this is the best winter warmer I've had, and it's the fullness of flavor and the complexity that does it for me, if this is average, I can't wait for greatness.

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Photo of AgingWarrior
3.71/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark copper color with some reddish brown highlights into my Great Lakes pint glass. The pour produced a thick finger of tan colored foamy head with good retention and lots of lacing.

Smell is sweet malts, fruit and spices. The scent is a bit understated for a winter warmer.

Tastes a lot like it smells, a little sweet, malty but also somewhat different than most winter warmers. The spices are there, but subtle. Nicely balanced brew with a smooth and clean finish.

Medium body drink, smooth and creamy. Feels great as it washes over the tongue.

Smooth and easy drinking, very enjoyable.

Not exactly what I expected from a Winter Warmer, but a very enjoyable beer.

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

From brentk56 in the SS'11 BIF box. This was probably my favorite of the offerings from Highland that included the E.S.B. and Christmas Ale.

This review borrows heavily from the style guide for Winter Warmer because this is one of the better I've had of the style and drinks less like an "American" and more like an "English".

"These malty sweet offerings tend to be a favorite winter seasonal. Big malt presence, both in flavor and body." This is absolutely the case here with the deep amber topped with a generous fluffy cap that leaves pleasant lacing.

This has little aroma, which is clearly going to knock the overall score, but the lack of a prominent aroma results in faint sweet malts, brown sugar and cinnamon.

The taste doesn't contain any overt spices more similar to "many English versions" which "contain no spices".

"American varieties...have a larger presences of hops both in bitterness and flavor." That isn't the case here. While there is a smooth, integrated hops presence it is not a larger presence than the malty sweetness.

Mouthfeel is even, medium bodied with a surprisingly crisp finish that owes a good deal to the trace hop bitterness that cuts any cloying sweetness or potential for lingeingr bitter/burnt spice flavors.


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Photo of mechamifune
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: nice copper color .... healthy white head.... nice lacing

S: smell is vanilla, cinnamon, honey... pleasant

T: taste follows the smell, ultimately a little sweet for my taste...some caramel flavors develop and linger

M: very smooth and easy to drink for the amount of and size of the flavors....nice sense of body

O: this is a nice example of the style, and if I was in the mood for a winter warmer i'd try to get this one...that being said, like GL Xmas Ale, I don't think this beer justifies the hype it has around here

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

Appearance: Nice reddish brown color. Off white tan head with awesome head retention. Nice solid bubbles.

Aroma: Roasted nut and cherry present in the aroma. Ammaretto/almond noted in the nose. Solid sweetness, very little in the way of hop noted.

Taste: Initial taste is solid sweetness. Sweet cherry melds with a bit of nuttiness. Ammaretto present in the taste as well as aroma. Solid mouthfeel. Very little sourness or bitterness present here.

Notes: This beer is begging for North Carolina's abv laws to change. I think it's a good beer now, but the depth in both the aroma and taste is impressive for a beer under 6%. One of Highlands strongest offerings.

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Photo of Tilly
3.64/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice transparent brown with a huge thick frothy head. Aromas of carmalized sugar, vanilla and light fruits. Tastes complexed. Carmalized sugar, vanilla and light fruit taste! Go figure! Light mouth feel, light with not much bitterness. Nice winter ale.

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Photo of BeerGod27
4.63/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I couldn't decide what to drink yesterday. Our waiter suggested this beauty and I'm very glad he did.
This is a perfect beer for the winter months. It's sugary and malty with so much flavor.
Pours a dark brown with minimal head. Lacing is medium and streaky.
Smell is slightly spicy and cold.
Taste is smooth, malty and sweet. Flavors are caramel, spicy (without tasting like a Christmas tree) and bready. Good carbonation.
This beer is best enjoyed in a dark pub or at home with a book in front of the fireplace. I could easily drink this all day.

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Photo of bigbeerdrinka
4.4/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

First and foremost this is one killer looking bottle if I do say so myself. Pours a deep mahogany color with slight ruby hues and a nice head that leaves a slight lace. Mixes of toffees, caramels, hints of roasted malts, and bits of earthy spices make up the aromas to this brew. There are also some toasted notes and what reminds me of walnuts of chestnuts. Flavors are a heavy dosage of malts throughout with a really powering kick of toffees and toasted malts that just blend together ever so nicely. There are hints of caramels in the mix (in almost a scotch ale sort of flavor), along with some nutty flavors are just a slight hint of spices. The finish is very malty but not overly sweet with hints of vanilla and bits of toffee. Overall this brew was highly drinkable and had a great creamy mouthfeel to it. Unfortunately for me this was my only bottle of this fantastic brew, but at least I get to quaff it all by myself. Get this beer if you can.

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Photo of Neehan
4.67/5  rDev +16.5%
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!!

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Photo of waldoiverson
2.06/5  rDev -48.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

bomber into US Ping

A: minmal head with almost no lacing, nice dark copper color

S: smells like those heart candies you get around valentines day...no alcohol smell or hops, maybe a bit of caramel malt

t: sweetbitterness that is kind of chalky and chamomile floraly...not sure what's going on here but my mouth isn't happy

m: thin and tangy from carbonation

d: not sure about abv but on taste i'd not drink another...sorry highland

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Photo of TheEclecticGent
4.45/5  rDev +11%
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.

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Photo of hellcatsjg
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark brown beer with a finger of head. Head disappears leaving only a thin layer which sticks around for a food bit of the glass.

Smell: Sweet caramel, malt, and a spiciness that is led by cinammon.

Taste: Just like the nose. You get the big sweet malt and caramel flavors up front. The spiciness slowly moves in and provides a very nice balance of sweet and spicy. Very good beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium thickness with a nice amount of carbonation. The spices linger very strongly in the mouth. Very nice.

Drinkability: Big sweetness and nice spiciness. This is what I want a winter warmer to taste like. Though the style is very diverse and this is a very good example of the spiced variety. Highly recommended.

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Photo of dancinwillie
4.25/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to turtlemoye for this one. I got it from a LIF he did, in which I didn't even win! I've been waiting to drink drink it, and I decided I'd better get around to doing just that. So here it goes.

Looks pretty thick coming out of that bottle. Head is fluffy, and cratered. Slow carbonation swells and releases sluggishly. As it drops and the bubbles become less dense, they spread out and look like under carbonated home brew heads. Color is dark red, and almost the shade of plum.

Aroma is nutty sweetness, almost peanut brittle. Unknown earthy spicing.

Sweet with a little bitterness, though not hoppy. Earthy and wholesome, like some really good multi-grain bread. Spicy, with a little oxidation that reminds me of an old, Old Ale. In the background: maple syrup and a little pumpkin pie flavor. As it warms, it gathers more of an Ale fruitiness, and again, I reminisce of pie fillings. This time more of a tart cherry, and maybe a little blackberry too. Toasted wheat berries.

Medium bodied, leaning more towards the fuller end of the spectrum. Sweet finish.

Overall, I'm really pretty impressed with this beer. I tend to rush a bit in my reviewing, and tried to slow it down here. I'm glad I did. Thanks again turtlemoye, I was thrilled to receive this and enjoyed drinking it. Now I just have to get going, and come up with an LIF of my own. Cheers!

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Photo of NClifestyle
3.41/5  rDev -15%
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.


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Photo of nickthegun12
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

the appearance is a light brown, reddish color....with little to no head....

smells bready....like beer...lol....i get the slightest bit of spice in the nose...

taste great...the best part of this beer...some of the bittering hops taste great in this beer....some sort of spice shines through well....

feels great on the mouth...not too dry but on the dry side....

very nice drinkability....not sure of the abv...but doesn't seem too high

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Photo of mikeys01
4.55/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer came to me courtesy of GCBrewingCo as part of the infamous OneBox BIF, and I’m pleased to report this beer previously unbeknownst to me is damn downright delicious. Not knowing what to expect, this winter ale appeared in my pint a dirty sunset of reddish brown, quite good clarity with just a hint of chill haze. A modest light tan head caps this beer at pour, soon fading to a thin layer of foam and lacing.

Aroma is very toffee sweet and malty, giving a mere hint of its true nature. At the first taste, the Cold Mountain is lightly nutty (almond and hazelnut to me) and pleasantly sweet with a dash of spice and a pleasant vanilla character. Just a trace of hop presence lingers in the foreground as well, with a bit of apple nudging its way in there. Body is on the full side of medium and this brew is exceedingly drinkable. Finish is clean and malty sweet. I think I could drink many pints of this one. This is a beer that is just plain good without being extreme in any way.

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Photo of cps98
3.33/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this as an extra from a trade. Never had anything from Highland so I was excited to try it.

A – Dark brown in color with a nice 2 finger off white head.

S – Mild cinnamon and spice notes, some caramel in there too.

T – Heavy cinnamon and spice up front. Caramel and malty sweetness after that.

M – Light to medium bodied a little bite. Carbonation seemed to be a little on the low side.

O – Nothing overly exciting to report about this beer. Drinkable but not really my cup-o-tea.

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Photo of cerevisiaephilus
3.48/5  rDev -13.2%
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.

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Photo of scifan
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'ved been dying to try this beer ever since i read about, so excited that I found it today. Poured a deep amber into my favorite chalise. Had a nice head but dissapated quickly, left some nice lacing.
Lots of spices, mostly vanilla, also clove, cinnamon, and candi sugar. The vanilla comes through the most but it all blends togethere very nicely. This is a great beer for a cold winter night. Definitly all I expected can't wait have some more at lovely Christmas dinner with family and friends.

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Photo of watermelon
3.59/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This years release In a 1 liter bottle poured into a tulip glass

A: Clear mahogany body with a creamy dense three finger head. Lots of lacing and great retention.

S: Not a very strong smell. Carmel and vanilla scents as well as some alcohol burn.. which is odd for the low ABV.

T: Vanilla flavors. Cranberry is good. Some nutty flavors as well as dark hops.

M: The mouthfeel is light and creamy I would prefer it be thicker especially for the style. The carbonation is correct. Slight bitterness lingers on the palette.

O: I probably wont be buying this again. For $13 for the liter size I just wasn't that impressed with this one. If it was offered in the +/- $10 size pack format it would be a decent winter warmer. I do like that it isn't super spiced and also doesn't have the medicinal flavors that some of this style have.

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Photo of numenor1
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is unlike anything else I have ever had, incredibly unique. I feel the sum of its component parts, while recognizable, add up to something greater, creating new flavors. I poured my entire 1 liter bottle into my 1L german stein. It's a clear ruby, auburn brown with a creamy tan head. The foam tastes like candy. Smells sweet of cherries, some brown sugar and a faint bitter twinge. Taste upfront is sour/marashino cherries but minus the incredible sweetness. Then a solid bitterness emerges, preventing anything from becoming cloying. In the meantime flavor really depends on what you focus on. There's brown sugar, more cherry, some vanilla, there's some faint smokiness, and an incredible interplay thereof. The flavors really work well together. Bitterness keeps everything in check. The finish lingers for quite a while, very smooth, almost a buttery finish yet not diacetyl. I won't guess as to the spices used. Mouthfeel is medium, with relatively low carbonation, making it very chewy. Very drinkable. This is unlike any other beer i've ever had. I'm exercising restraint in not popping open my second liter.

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Photo of Wolfpack2005
2.64/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A-Pours a deep clear amber color. A Brisk pour reveals a fairly impressive off white head that leaves a good amount of lacing

S-Aroma is unimpressive, dont detect too much except for a mild vanilla scent.

T-Very mild bittering hops up front. Picking up small notes of vanilla, raisin, and caramel, but the backbone of this beer seems to be some sort of a nut extract (maybe hazelnut). Not picking up any of the traditional spice that are typically in a winter warmer which is not necessarily a bad thing. Im guessing this beer is about 6-6.5% by the lack of alcohol taste that I like out of my winter WARMERS.

M-Very light with minimal carbonation.

O-IMO a sub-par beer. I cannot get past the hazelnut extract flavor that dominates the beer. I do like the fact that Highland stepped outside the bound of your traditional winter warmer. With some tweaking however i think this could be a good beer. Needs more burn.

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Photo of ImusBeer
3.44/5  rDev -14.2%
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.

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 308 ratings.