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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

309 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 309
Hads: 712
Avg: 4
pDev: 19.75%
Wants: 87
Gots: 118 | 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: 309 | Hads: 712
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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Photo of homersimpson
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Version 2003
1 Liter Bottle
Clear, dark amber brew with light tan head.
Scents of sweet malt and spices.
Medium, smooth body with light carbonation.
Initially, spicy up front with just enough of a crisp hopto make it clean. Not much sweet with the spice, and the malt is definately hidden. Has a long spicy finish.
Definately on of my favorite winter brews, but could use a boost in alcohol and malt (they do go hand in hand!)
Needs a bit of a sweet burn in the finish to make it perfect.

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Photo of scarfield
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 1 liter bottle and poured into several Goblets. Shared with a friend who received it in a trade. Amber as it is poured and Little head yields minimal lacing. No taste particularly stands out. The predominant flavor is that of bitter nuts, caramel, and vanilla. More malty than hoppy. Would prefer a bit more lingering taste from this beer, but still a good one to spend an evening with.

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Photo of Gish
3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber poured into a pint glass.

A - Dark brown with a lingering head.

S - Molasses, toffee, sweet malt dominate the smell

T - Rich, earthy, and sweet. A little bit of spice comes through in the end though. Could use a bit more balancing in my opinion.

M - Very smooth, medium bodied.

D - A little bit too sweet, but still very drinkable.

An all-around greater winter beer from my favorite local brewery. I hate that it took me so long to get around to reviewing it, but it's still very enjoyable!

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Photo of javincik
2.79/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a nonic pint

A-Pours a deep crimson amber with a nice 1 inch off white foam head. Nice lacing and head retention. Good clarity.

S-Baked bread and caramel with underlying spices. Very little contribution from any hops. A hint of brown and candied sugar also. Nose is surprisingly muted. I expected more from this.

T-Basically follows the nose. Quite sweet initially with the spices coming through before a kiss of hops at the end to balance everything out. It is very sweet, but not cloying. No hint of any alcohol. Average is all I can say.

M-Thin. It is just detracting. When I sip a winter warmer, I want something substantial. This is not it. Not sure what the ABV is on this, but it really isn't warming. No hint of any alcohol whatsoever. Normally, I would say this is a good thing, but when I want a winter warmer, I want something big.

D-It goes down easily: too easily actually. This one is just disappointing. The taste is about average, the mouthfeel is quite weak, and it doesn't really warm you. I shall not be seeking this one out again.

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Photo of willjansen
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottled purchased in North Carolina in January 2007 and consumed in June 2007. Travelled all the way to Australia and sat on my shelf for the last six months, and at last it's winter time here. Let's hope it is as good as it was back in NC...

Appearance: Deep, transparent crimson in color. Nice, creamy head with better than average retention. Head reduces a nice surface lace.

Smell: Sweetened vanilla straight away. Sweet, malty backbone supporting holiday spices such as allspice and a hint of nutmeg. Molasses, raisins and toffee hiding in the background. Overall, very complex and inviting for a winter brew.

Taste: Much like the smell, vanilla is the first thing that hits you followed by a plethora of spices that leave you breathing pumpkin pie vapors through the nose. Starts off with a maltiness dominated by vanilla, followed by the spices. Aftertaste of vanilla and allspice.

Mouthfeel: Soft, velvety mouthfeel. A bit weak on the carbonation, but somewhat appropriate for a winter brew. Silky, and somewhat watery.

Drinkability: The high levels of spice require slow sipping and I can only get through one or two bottles before I've had enough. While it's an amazing beer and quite drinkable for a spiced winter ale, this style in particular requires moderate consumption. All in all, an amazing and unique beer and one that I'll be looking for every winter.

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

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass

A - Dark copper. Yields a two finger creamy off-white head. Excellent lacing.

S - Roasted malts produce caramels and hints of vanilla. Even a slight dark fruit smell simmilar to raisins. Floral hops present.

T - Lightly roasted malt producing a predominately caramel flavor. Odd slightly sour note in the middle that throws off the taste. Hops there but mainly detected in the nose.

M - Medium bodied. Moderate carbonation. Easy drinking.

O - This is a highly drinkable winter warmer. I tend to like beers in this style to have a little more body, but this is a great beer nonetheless. Light caramel flavors and none too rich.

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 309 ratings.