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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

310 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 310
Hads: 715
Avg: 4
pDev: 20%
Wants: 89
Gots: 121 | FT: 6
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 310 | Hads: 715
Photo of cps98
3.33/5  rDev -16.8%
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%
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 +5.5%
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 -10.3%
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 +11.3%
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%
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%
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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Photo of waldowin
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poures a crystal-clear dark ruby with a light tan head. The head is constantly in flux, and shifting and bubbling even as it slowly fades to a thin capper. Minimal lacing.

Smells of vanilla, oranges, and a hint of bourbon.

First taste was an immediate "Woah, what the heck?" This beer is vastly unlike any beer I've had before. Hints of coriander, and full flavors of vanilla, oak, and bourbon come through. Almost a madarin glaze finish to this beer. Very smooth and light, with a light crisp hopping at the tail end. Very sweet, and fairly malty, with not too many hops. For a malthead like me, this is great. Would go excellently with duck, or maybe goose, something rich and hearty to pair of the lightness and sweetness of this brew.

Mouthfeel is light, and smooth, if not terribly big. Leaves a nice slightly tart sweetness in the mouth.

This is a very smooth and light beer (if you haven't gathered that already), and extremely easy to drink. Wish I knew the ABV, as there's just no way to tell based on taste alone.

Many thanks to merlin48 for this very hard to find beer!

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Photo of gabe23
4.57/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark reddish brown with a thick head that holds up quite well. The lacing is wonderful.

S - Sweet, malty and grainy. Perhaps some vanilla and cinnamon, but it's hard to distinguish all the individual scents. Very, very nice.

T - This beer is a malt lover's dream. Toasty and sweet, with a tiny hop bite to keep things in balance. The spice adds a great winter/holiday feel, without being overpowering.

M - Creamy and smooth with just enough carbonation.

D - I split a 22oz bomber with my Dad on Christmas Eve, and I immediately wished we each had our own bottle. This is a fantastic winter ale that goes down smooth and warms you on a cold night. While it's not light by any means, it seems to have a low ABV, and I could drink it all night.

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Photo of jbone78
4.27/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours redish to light brown color with smells of sweet candi malts and tastes of caramel. very sweet. Lightly carbonated and drinks very easily. We mixed this with an Imperial Black Mocha Stout and that was an experience! If you have never do it and can get the beers, do it.


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Photo of scbeerman
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Found on tap at Backstreets in Clemson, SC and took a case home as a Christmas present.
Poured a medium-dark brown; clear with plenty of red hints noticeable. Thin off-white head that left nice lacing.
Nose of vanilla, some roasted malts, raspberries, spices. Not a strong smelling beer but pleasant.
Tastes similar to the smell, but with great complexity and depth of flavor. Vanilla most prominently with hints of cocoa, hazelnut, raspberries over a solid malt backbone with some light hop bitterness and pine present towards the finish. Not overly spiced like some winter ales.
Mouthfeel is light and slightly oily with medium low carbonation. Definitely very drinkable; it would be easy to have a few of these.
Overall, this was definitely much better than I expected and it's become my favorite seasonal beer. Extremely drinkable with a much more subtle flavor than most over-spiced winter beers. Definitely try it at least once if it's available in your area.

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Photo of davidt
3.3/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

1 liter flip-top bottle. Bottle opens with a "pop" and a wisp of carbonated air. Pours dark reddish-amber. Very thick, pillowy beige head leaves lots of lacing on the glass. Immediate aroma is cinnamon. As it warms, nutmeg, caramel notes appear. Taste matches with cinnamon being the strongest, some nutmeg, caramel, vanilla flavors too. This needs to be at room temperature to loosen the flavors. Not a bad beer, but for a Winter beer still very similar to so many Fall pumpkin beers.

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Photo of Atricapilla
4.58/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My wife and I really liked this beer. Pours a light-medium copper color, although when held up to the light, had some golden to it....Smells strongly of malt and slight (very) herbalness. Taste was malty and had a sweet aftertaste, almost like candy sugar. Taste had a bit of ethanol to it as well. This beer went great with dinner.

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Photo of mortarit
2.69/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I can't believe as much of Highland brews I have tried and consumed that I don't have any reviews for any of them.


Up front I was not impressed because I have had better and knowing that it changes from year to year I won't stop tasting their winter warmer.

Why the change in bottles, the previous ones had the flip top. Now I got one in the 22 oz. bomber.

The major downfall to this year brew that the hops were missing or not producing the taste that so desire.

I will have to get another one to see if I get the same response to finished this review. I can't believe of the disappointment after waiting a year for it.

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Photo of rustymoore
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber from the 22 oz. bottle. Nice head, minimal lacing.

Smells wonderful...vanilla and alcohol dominate with spices such as cinnamon. Tastes almost as good as the smell. The vanilla really sets this one apart. Flowery aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is somewhat watery but sweet.

Could easily drink several in a sitting. Highly recommended.

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Photo of hellomcfly
4/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of TheDTrain
3.12/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

When I think winter warmer, I think a spicy high abv ale that will warm the body and soul...unfortunately this is not it. A hazy bright golden color with a lighter body. Nose and mouth was dominated by the vanilla and caramel which was somewhat pleasing but a bit artificial like vanilla flavored syrup.

A drinkable brew but not what I consider a winter warmer.

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Photo of bosox941827
3.73/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Photo of ncbeermonger
4.47/5  rDev +11.8%
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

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Photo of malthead
4.47/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This bottle is probably a year old, received in a trade from Brentk56.
Nice dark chestnut color, most of the head fades quick, but leaves a nice lacing. Smells of sweet caramel, toasted malts. Maybe a rich, nutty spiked chai? Nice clean aroma. Tastes like it smells, big and malty but not cloyingly sweet. Smokey aftertaste. Almost a red grape skin mouthfeel. Very drinkable. Definitely one of my new favorites.

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Photo of RyanPoff
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 oz bottle into a 16 oz stein. Bottle date 11/14, consumed 12/20. Purchased at Libation Station in Johnson City, TN. This is the only retailer in the Tri-Cities I know that carries it.

A: Two fingers of light brown, creamy. foamy head retreating to one, with lacing remaining on the glass after consumption. Very visually appealing.

S: Aromas of bread, vanilla, strong malts. As the brew warms, a bit of chocolate. Smells like Christmas treats.

T: The vanilla, malts, and other spices lead up front, with a slight alcohol bite and bitterness after the swallow. Not really a fan of the bitterness on the back end, but still a very good brew.

M: Medium body, very creamy, medium carbonation, Very smooth, but not "oily," It fits the style, but not what I'll remember about the brew.

Probably Highland's best overall product - too bad it's not readily available and more expensive than the other products.

Have also had in a growler, but was a very sub-par draft. Would not recommend on draft.

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Photo of thaichile
4.32/5  rDev +8%
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.

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Photo of mrkrispy
3.99/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured in to a glass with a bit of trepidation since I tend not to be fan of Winter Warmers...they are usually egregiously overspiced and out of balance.

Tons of toffee, caramel, and chocolates in the nose. In the taste. In the body. Not a sweet chocolate syrup style beer, more like an American brown with more complexity. Malty, no spices trying to ruin the show. A bit thin compared to the taste, but that gives it some mystique. Slight alcohol notes after a few sips. Full bodies, with an odd finish...you expect it to be creamy but it really isn't.

Pretty interesting, pretty good. Worth a try!

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Photo of babyhobbes
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks unclejedi for this beer and Beer Powerball!! Woo!

Pours a red color with a creamy off-white head. The creaminess of the head makes for a wonderful mouth-feel, too. Smells all malty and sugary. Tastes the sweet, with a weird chocolatey taste (seriously) aftertaste. It's good. Terribly drinkable as well.

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Photo of Jarnol21
4.74/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is hands down my favorite winter ale. Vanilla is the dominant flavor and it could not be smoother drinking! Grab it if you see it, it's very hard to get your hands on. Cheers to Highland!

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 310 ratings.