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Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

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
89
very good

308 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 308
Hads: 700
rAvg: 4
pDev: 12.25%
Wants: 85
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

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 308 | Hads: 700
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. (1,080 characters)

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! (195 characters)

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. (1,386 characters)

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. (671 characters)

Photo of a10t2
2.74/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Brown 22 oz bottle, poured into a 19 oz tulip glass. No visible date or batch number.

A: Clear, and absolutely beautiful ruby to brown color. Tiny wisps of off-white head that linger, but no lacing.

S: Diacetyl is very evident, along with some vanilla or oaky notes and a subtly earthy character that could be hops.

T: Thankfully, the diacetyl is restrained compared to the aroma. There's definite vanilla here as well, along with a big hit of caramel-y sweetness. Not much else going on though.

M: Diacetyl is again apparent on the roof of the mouth, although there's enough carbonation to cut through and keep it from being vinous.

D: I finished the beer, although I don't think I would ever try it again based on this sample. (733 characters)

Photo of Tiklmelmo
4.07/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big ass (1L) flip top bottle poured into a large tulip glass. Received from gford217 on SS09. Thanks Grant!

A - Clear, dark caramel / amber with minimal off-white head.

S - Big malty vanilla candy on the nose. Maybe a very slight hint of spice, but smells more like nice english barleywine.

T - Again lots of malt, but some earthy hops in the background. Slight hints of spice (nutmeg?), but definitely not heavily spiced like some winter warmers. A tad more bitter than I'd like, but overall good.

M - Pretty good, but a hair thin / dry. I could go for a hair more residual sweetness to balance the bitterness.

D - Not sure the ABV but certainly doesn't smack of alcohol. Assuming by the style that this is in the 8-10% range, it's certainly quite drinkable.

I normally am not a huge fan of winter warmers because they're overly spiced. This one is definitely not one of those beers. Like I said previously, it reminds me more of an english barleywine. Very enjoyable and well balanced. First beer I've had from Highland and I enjoy it well enough to drink the whole big bottle. (1,088 characters)

Photo of callisbeers
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

No sense in decribing the color, head and lacing of this beer (it is prettu much the same as everyone elses reviews). yNice malty smell, with a hint of vanilla. Torn by the taste on this one. I normally like sweet tasting drinks but this one was almost too sweet. Almost like having a dessert wine. However, perhaps because this was my nightcap, I am somewhat enjoyed this beer. I think if I knew before hand that this was my last beer of the night, I would be happy to have it. But if I had started off the night with this one, I would have been disappointed. I do not think there is much drinkability here. (608 characters)

Photo of DeaconBluez
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22ozer

poured a fading brown. little over a finger head. lacing is better than the head.

i can smell very little in this. little bit of malts and spice.

taste. wow! now this what i think most winter warmers should strive for. hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. vanilla pops its head in there as well. perfect blend. some hops. but the spices is what really stands out on this. it really makes one think of the holidays.

mouthfeel is nice. there is not a lot of carbonation on this, which is nice, i am not burping on this.

drinkability is very good. i wish this was offered all year long. the taste is what make this beer a good one in my book. wish i was in a state that sold this because i would go out by several more right now. go buy now!! (754 characters)

Photo of mbrown26
3.62/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Copper to brown colors with a one finger browning head. Left a nice lacing.

S: A wonderful vanilla smell with some other spices mixed in.

T: Has a spice taste and definitely malts. A little bit of alcohol taste in the back of the throat, but definitely well balance. A good winter warmer.

M: Moderate carbonation and some bitterness.

D: Fairly easy to drink. The smell of this one is the highlight.

Try it if you can find it. (435 characters)

Photo of planetscott
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love the appearance of this beer. Clear ruby and garnet color. Not much aroma. Taste is different for a winter warmer and a nice change of pace. Fruity, but not in a Belgian sense. I taste pears and very faint vanilla. Mouth feel is not thick like most winter warmers....Again a nice change. Good drink ability. Not great as it is somewhat sweet.

A decent, yet different winter warmer. (388 characters)

Photo of mwearl
4.8/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Amber color, nice body and extremely drinkable. This is a beer whose flavor absolutely changes and gets better with age. Save this years' beer in a cool place and drink it next winter and you will see what I mean. The smooth flavor has a distinctive chocolate finish. (267 characters)

Photo of Jimlikesbeer
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

Highland brewing Company Cold Mountain Winter Ale is a really good seasonal. I don't get why it is in such demand though. Most places around here sell out in one day, and I am in North Carolina. Amber color, winter spices, especially nutmeg, and pours with a good head. This is a very good beer, but not worth driving all over town trying to find one bottle (all most places would sell me). Plenty of other seasonals that are just as good. (442 characters)

Photo of ryancuth
4.94/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is probably the best beer that comes from Highland Brewery, one of my favorite breweries in North Carolina, let alone anywhere. It's only a winter seasonal so if you see it, definitely buy a few because it' won't be out long.

It has a wonderful dark caramel color and balanced vanilla-caramel-malty smell. The taste (to me) is best described as a fuller and more bodied cream soda. Yes, beer that tastes like cream soda. It's amazing.

Buy this beer, you will not be disappointed. (486 characters)

Photo of RyanC84
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Most recent 2009 vintage.

It's 29 degrees in Charleston, SC. Is there a better time to crack open a winter warmer in the Palmetto state?

A vigorous pour produces a creamy off-white two finger head that fades considerably but never disappears. The beer is a thin and somewhat bizarre hazelnut amber mix. Guess I was expecting something a little darker, but an attractive pour regardless.

The nose on Cold Mountain is something special. Sweet malt, lots of vanilla, spice, and a tiny hint of oak. No hops to be found here and I'm ok with that. This one smells like Christmas.

The taste is good but not great, perhaps a bit one-dimensional. Palate is dominated mostly by vanilla and oak. Some caramel and spice, but the vanilla-oak combo dominates the flavor profile.

I was expecting a heavier beer, but am pleased with the results. A thinner body makes this winter warmer an easy drinker, but you might want to split this one with a buddy. The one-dimensional flavor profile limits how much you'll be consuming in one night.

Very solid winter warmer from Highland. (1,070 characters)

Photo of samtallica
4.16/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Bomber into Sam Adam's Perfect Pint.

A: Brilliantly clear, dark amber with a small off white head.

S: Caramel malts and vanilla, some vague hops and spices in the background.

T: Cocoa Pebbles. Seriously, this beer tastes exactly like cocoa pebbles. That is not a bad thing at all, but it is slightly one dimensional. Not sure if previous years were different. Surprisingly this is the first time I've had this beer.

M: Medium-low carbonation with a medium body.

O: I just can't help but think Cocoa Pebbles. I liked Cocoa Pebbles as a kid though, so it takes me back a bit. I'm definitely a fan just because I've never experienced this flavor in a beer before. It's interesting and new to me. (707 characters)

Photo of beerhandy
3.59/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours a murky brown with a thick tan head that quickly subsides to a thin layer of foam.The aroma was cranberries with
subtle notes of pumpkin pie.The taste was malty sweetness with faint cinnamon and clove spiciness.The hops are subdued but dry it up in the swallow.The body was a bit thin perhaps a bit cidery.
A good winter warmer . (347 characters)

Photo of Jhansengranger
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Typically not a fan of winter ales as I generally find them over spiced. This winter ale is definitely an exception.

A- Caramel brown to amber color with only a little bit of head, less than I was expecting, maybe I should have opened it sooner. Still a nice color though.

S- Wonderful smell, caramel and a bit of sweet fruit to it. Still smells slightly like Christmas without being overpowering in the least.

T- The smell of the beer did not disappoint. Lots of sweet fruit notes and just a small hint of those winter spices you expect. Vanilla and berries stand out a bit. A bit more alcohol flavor than I was expecting based on the ABV.

M- Quite creamy and nice to drink, certainly a go-to beverage for winter.

O- Easy to drink with hints of interesting spices that are very complimentary to the ale. Sweet flavors but not too sweet to drink by the gallon. I'd highly recommend this well balanced beer. (911 characters)

Photo of KnucklesMcFisty
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

Wow...this is a pretty beer...the color is very inviting! Smell leans towards vanilla and caramelized sugar. Nothing really takes center stage in the taste...vanilla, dark fruit, raisins, sweetness from the malt and a dry, slightly spicy finish from the hops and cinnamon. This beer is all about balance...flavor, mouthfeel, aroma....they are all perfectly balanced making this an excellent winter warmer! (406 characters)

Photo of drlumps62
4.65/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I bought a 20 ounce bottle at Luekens liquor in Oldsmar Florida. Which in itself was a surprise. I did not think that Highland had that sort of distribution. I poured the beer into a 20 ounce glass.

A: Deep reddish brown in color. A tad bit cloudy.
Very rich looking. 1/2" white frothy head that kept a loose meringue type retention.

S: Dark malty nose. Again there is a richness there. It doesn't really jump out at you, but it is very pleasant.

T: The payoff. At first I tasted a bold chocolate malted flavor that gives way to a spiciness that blended together to remind me of Easter Chocolate covered marshmellows, with a slight nutty graham cracker type flavor.

M: Mildly heavy. Light stickiness.

D: Dessert beer. Something you spring on a beer drinker who hasn't had one and is tired of the same old thing.

This is good stuff. From a brewery that became one of my two favorite beers inthat area. (906 characters)

Photo of guinnessdoc
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep red, rust color with a 1/2 inch tan head that fell away quickly to a thin layer.

The aroma was an interesting mixture of fruit, spice, and a vague hint of liquor. I want to say there's something else there but I can't say what it is.

I guess I should have been ready for lots of flavor but this one really surprised me. A complex blend of orange, spices, and malt that combined, come across as very sweet with a bitter finish.

Definitely a lighter mouthfeel than I expected from the big aroma and flavor but smooth and slightly creamy.

As for the drinkability, UncleFlip put it best when he said, "I had to keep taking sips to keep finding more flavours in it." How true. For me, the bomber I had tonight was just the right amount. (757 characters)

Photo of mustang70
5/5  rDev +25%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

poured into a Guinness pint.

A . a nice red color that reminds me of a Scottish ale. a nice 2 finger tan head that dissipates quickly leaving good lacing on the glass.

S. I am getting raspberry and cranberry, some malt sweetness. it smells amazing. not what I expected.

T. the raspberry and cranberry hit me right away. I am also tasting bubble gum. some sweetness with the malts and fruit. a little bitterness hits me in the back of the throat. very warming.

M. it has a medium body with little carbonation. feels good on the palate.

O. I really enjoyed this beer. it was not what I was expecting from an american version. most others are more bitter. this one I would buy multiple times well worth it. (710 characters)

Photo of Bryson
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Here we go again! Another year with the ever changing Cold Mountain Winter Ale =)

A: Rusty red tint with a thin cream colored head.

S: Malty vanilla with other various spices. The vanilla definitely stands out on the nose to me.

T: This is where this beer shines! After sipping, there is a rush of Vanilla, Cream, Soda, and Malt. These flavors then give way to a nice, slightly hoppy, and bitter finish. I do recommend serving this beer at room temp or maybe a little cooler to get the full flavor experience!

M: Medium-Low carbonation...perfect! I can't imagine drinking this beer if it were more carbonated than it is.

O: What a treat this beer is every year! It has become a tradition for me to crack a 12oz bottle of this every day after work for the couple of months that it's around..I find myself craving it while I'm at work. What more can you say? This is one of the best Winter beers out there!

I will say that this year has a bit more of a hop profile than I remember in the previous years. Not a terrible thing but I definitely do think I prefer last years vintage. (1,087 characters)

Photo of east_tn_gk
4.75/5  rDev +18.8%

I thought this beer was amazing. It's not really heavy, more of a medium ale. The flavors that really stuck out to me were vanilla and hazelnut. The vanilla isn't too overbearing as some can be. The hazelnut evens it out to make a sweet, non-bitter excellent winter ale. Wish they had it all year. (297 characters)

Photo of smurfyou
2.64/5  rDev -34%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Maybe this will be the first unflattering review of this beer? I'll preface this by saying I live in NC and love NC beers. My expectations might have been high because I enjoyed it last year.

I got a 22oz bomber of 2006 Cold Mountain from Greenlife in Asheville. Sat down after dinner with a fire going, in a cabin on a cold mountain night. Poured a decent looking dark amber color with a bit of head. Smelled like a winter warmer, nothing too suprising but nice. But when I tasted it, I was assaulted with nutmeg/spice flavor way out of balance with the beer part. Vanilla too I think. The malt flavor that was there was nice, just covered up by spice. The mouthfeel was very thin, contrary to what the smell and appearance would have you think. I honestly couldn't believe how unbalanced this beer tasted. Maybe thats what they're going for, a lot of you seem to like it. I could only get through half of it, the rest went down the drain. Sorry to all who can't find it... (978 characters)

Photo of Walker8810
3.55/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a nice brownish hue with decent head. nice lacing.
aroma of cranberries of all things but it is a spiced winter brew.
mouthfeel is velvety smooth. goes down very easily.
tastes malty sweet w/ vanilla overtones and little hop flavor.
i normally don't like spiced beers but this one isn't overpoweringly spiced. still tastes like a good ale. i probably wouldn't drink it on a regular basis as it is not my favorite style but it is a really good example of a winter ale. definitely goes good w/ the season.
cheers. (519 characters)

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