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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

596 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 596
Reviews: 299
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 13.15%
Wants: 76
Gots: 67 | FT: 4
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: 596 | Reviews: 299 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cpetrone84
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-it pours a transparent dark cherry red color with two full fingers of a thinner off white head that has some retention and leaves a nice lace on the glass

S-the nose is relatively subdued but what i get seems nice. there is some vanilla in there with a hint of caramel malt and a touch of cinnamon spice

T-the taste is a little bigger than the nose, it brings the vanilla right up front with lots more cinnamon than smell would have let on. there is a light floral ester taste and some bitterness towards the finish

M-this is a light bodied beer with the right amount of carbonation. it is relatively smooth with some presence of alcohol

D-its not bad, i like the taste but the body could have been a little fuller. some presence of alcohol also take away from a decent winter warmer.

cpetrone84, Jan 10, 2010
Photo of AngusOg
4/5  rDev -0.7%

AngusOg, Apr 06, 2013
Photo of whartontallboy
4/5  rDev -0.7%

whartontallboy, Jan 11, 2012
Photo of AlexFields
4.56/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

EDIT: the recipe for this beer changes every year and this review is based on the winter 2010-11 vintage.

I've had this beer many times, mostly from bottles but also on tap. This review is a summation of my love affair with this awesome beer rather than notes from any particular tasting.

A: Just looks like a brown ale. Which makes sense, considering they use a brown ale as the base. Nice brown color and a really nice head for a brown ale, but nothing remarkable.

S: At this point it's hard for me to separate the nose from the taste on this, as when I smell it I can't help but imagine what I'm about to taste. That said, the nose is weaker than the taste. Smells sweet and creamy, recognize as a brown ale but obviously some spices going on, maybe some vanilla.

T: Amazing! The brown ale base is apparent, but much sweeter and richer than a standard brown ale and with little hint of the slight roasty tartness common to brown ales. Instead, you get huge creamy flavors. Winter spices here for sure, the kind of stuff you would put into a pumpkin pie, but they work their magic here in a subtle way and don't dominate the flavor. Some vanilla flavor too. It all works together perfectly.

M: Extraordinarily smooth and creamy. Like drinking silk, if silk were a tasty beverage. The mouthfeel is the most unique and memorable thing about this beer, I always look forward to it and it always matches or exceeds my expectations. Never had anything else quite like it. Just fantastic. Almost like a cask beer coming out of a bottle.

Overall: One of my all time favorite beers. Before I had this beer, I had very little regard for anything described as a "winter warmer," and in fact I still haven't had anything else from that category that really impressed me, but I like this beer so much that I'm willing to afford respect to the category just based on what Cold Mountain proves its potential to be. I just wish this stuff were easier to find outside of Asheville! A few bottles a year is not enough.

9.4/10

AlexFields, Mar 21, 2011
Photo of blackie
4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 Release

appearance: The pour into my snifter creates a low, off white head that quickly recedes to only a collar around the glass. The color of the beer is a very nice reddish mahogany.

smell: considerable carob aroma, light holiday (pie) spice, hops very hard to find but they're there. Reminds me almost perfectly of my grandma's sweet potato casserole (toasted marshmallows, brown sugar, spice, butter, sweet potato). *Melted marshmallows, candied orange, crystallized ginger, vanilla, toffee.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is maybe slightly less than medium, as is the body.

taste: The same carob I found on the nose is big here. Again I am reminded of sweet potato casserole. The spice is less noticeable on the tongue. Plenty of hops provide a good balance, becoming most evident after the initial flavor rush. *Graham cracker, sassafrass.

drinkability: very easy drinking for such a flavorful beer.

This is my first ever Higland Cold Mountain Winter Ale. A very intricate and complex beer. *I revisited this beer after a couple months to attempt to isolate some more of its nuances.

2006 Release: I was going to make another review for this year's, but it seems pretty simlar to last year. Same rich brown color, and nice retention of the slight head. Buttery cookie dough, spicy bread, and vanilla notes. Light, floral hops. Cinnamon-sugar toast. Seems to be a higher hop profile than last year, but it could just be fresher. At present, the hops block out a little of the aroma and flavor.

2011: Fairly consistent with years past. A Christmas classic for the home state. I will add that, now that it's described on the bottle, there's an evident hazelnut aroma. Picked up a bomber at Bottle Revolution in Raleigh. Gonna let the old scores stand.

blackie, Nov 29, 2005
Photo of jophish17
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

jophish17, Dec 24, 2011
Photo of tpd975
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one about this time last year and some how it made its way to the back of the beer fridge where it was forgotten. While doing a little rearranging today I found it and immediately popped it open.

It came via a great trader ByTor2112. Here goes the review.

A: Pours what appears to be a nice nutty brown hue. When put up to the light it is actually a beautiful dark clear ruby red. The head is nice and tall, fluffy, tan in color. The retention is wonderful with nice lace noted.

S: The aromas are not bold (though this one has sat a year) but what is there is rather nice. Nice sweet brown sugar with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. A light fruit juice aroma that I can't quite put my finger on.

T: Wow, this is one wonderful brew. What a mix of flavors. Vanilla right up front with cinnamon and a touch of ginger swirled in. Rich brown sugar and a splash of grenadine. A nice nutty malt carries thoroughout. What a wonderful holiday brew. If I had another bottle it would be opened on Christmas.

M: Medium in body, smooth and creamy with perfect carbonation.

D: Wish I had shared this one with the local tasting group, but it was a real treat to enjoy all to myself. One of the best holiday beers known to man.

tpd975, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of tommyguz
4/5  rDev -0.7%

tommyguz, Dec 01, 2013
Photo of ffejherb
3.68/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz. bomber. Thanks to Deuane for sharing.

A - Clear copper body with dark amber tones and one-finger creamy beige head that settled to a wispy film and produced modest lacing. Virtually no carbonation was present.

S - Maple syrup and molasses sweetness up front with some earthy herbs and spices. Spicy character is subtle, however, with scant traces of cinnamon and clove. Some licorice also finds its way into the mix. Overall, nose is quite sweet and malty.

T - Malty and spicy up front with mild earthy and herbal notes. The maple syrup presence is quite apparent. Hints of molasses, caramel candy and toffee also come out in the flavor. Hop bitterness is virtually non-existent, though, with perhaps just a smidgen of earthy bitterness in the finish.

M - Medium body with a somewhat thick, syrupy texture and soft carbonation. Very sweet on the tongue. Finishes with very mild bitterness on the palate.

D - Cold Mountain isn't overly spiced like many other winter ales, which I enjoyed. It also has quite a lot of malt character. Another solid brew from Highland.

Brewslut's Quote of the Day:
"It smells like reception sticks."

ffejherb, Mar 22, 2009
Photo of cosmicevan
3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

had this one for a while, think this is last year's version?

a - opened the bottle and filled my unibroue tulip. the beer poured a deep golden brown with a finger full of frothy off white head. when held to the light had a reddish tint. lacing was chunky and hung out. looks great.

s - candied raisins and plums. all malt. very nice. a bit thin.

t - a malt bomb for sure. grapes. nuts. subdued plums. tail of watery bitterness at the end but not much. biscuity.

m - a bit on the thin and watery side.

o - overall kind of wee heavy like but the feel is much thinner.

cosmicevan, Nov 09, 2011
Photo of SadMachine
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

SadMachine, Jun 28, 2014
Photo of merlin48
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 edition, just extracted from a fresh case. One liter swingtop bottle crowned with clear plastic shrinkwrap. Served slightly chilled into a St Bernardus goblet.
Pours a clear, dark mahogany body that exhibits a radiant ruby clarity when held to light. Small khaki head quickly falls into a lasting collar and cap. Sporadic sheet lacing is satiny in appearance. The radiant ruby body boasts an exceptional and regal appearance.

Aroma is more subdued than the 2004 version, but is quite intriguing. Toffee, red McIntosh apples, vanilla, and a mysterious floral note comprise the bouquet. My ladyfriend has an excellent sense of smell, and says the floral note is roses. It seems like heather to me. Very lightly spiced compared to last year's version, and there are some vague spicy notes that I can't yet identify.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Carbonation is moderated, but still manages to produce a nice tingly sensation.

Taste is exceptional, yet enigmatic and challenging in its superb complexity. Caramel, buttery toffee, fruity red apple, and a floral note that adds a mystery hop bitterness that provides an ideal balance. Spiciness is nicely restrained, with hints of vanilla and allspice. No hint of alcohol, but I suspect that they've cranked this one up a notch, to 6.5 to 7% abv. Lots of flavors and ingredients at work here, mingling together in an exquisite balance. Spices are a minor player compared to the 2004 version. Very tasty, very unique, and stunning in its wonderful drinkability.

The 2005 Cold Mountain is complex and enigmatic. lots of things going on here that are beyond my limited comprehension, but this is an exceptional experience. Very unique, very tasty, and an absolute pleasue to drink. I spent an hour with this liter, and enjoyed every sip. Very smooth and goes down way too easy. So tasty, I was tempted to crack open another liter. Would love to have a keg of this for a Christmas party somewhere.

merlin48, Nov 18, 2005
Photo of Vancer
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From brentk56 in a nice trade – thanks man!

Let me just start off and say – what a freakin’ superb winter ale! THIS is what a warmer should be, geez what a tasty treat!

Started off with a great pour – clear and beautiful mahogany brown, ivory head that just coats the ol’ Cordendonk tulip.

Almost sneezed from all the winter spices in the aroma. But the taste is where this one leaves others behind. It’s all there; chocolate, vanilla, coffee, nutmeg with a massive spicy malt backbone driving the whole load.

Drinks like a fine cognac, glad I have a 1L hammer bottle of this great brew.

Vancer, Dec 15, 2007
Photo of Bung
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of the better winter seasonals I've had. Red/brown pour, nice whiteish head. Reminded me a little like drinking a windmill cookie, with some caramel toping poured over it. Had this on draft and bottle, definetely better on draft. Also I liked the 2007 version a little bit better, was just a little heavier. Had more characteristics of a Christmas porter to go along with the christmas cookie. I look forward to next year's batch.

Bung, Jan 15, 2009
Photo of prototypic
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to my dood, kkipple, for this one. You rock, Dan!

Cold Mountain Winter Ale pours a crimson stained copper color. It's very clear, and has a strong garnet ting when held to light. Really nice color. The head is very modest. It's cream colored and doesn't even rise to a finger in depth. It dissipates very quickly, and leaves light lacing behind. Not bad. The color carries it.

The nose is extremely impressive. It's chock full of caramel and cocoa-esque chocolate malts. It's a little on the sweet side, but not by much. There are definitely some spices in the mix. I'm getting a little cinnamon, vanilla, and ginger. But, the spices are complementary and never take center stage. The thunderous malt base captures the spotlight. Hops are noticeable. They smell mostly floral. Alcohol is never much of a factor. Excellent.

I didn't expect the flavor to live up to the nose, but it does. The strong malty flavors strike first and never relent. Cocoa-esque chocolate blends perfectly with the mild caramel/toffee notes. Spice flavors of ginger, light nutmeg, and cinnamon are subtle, but flavorful. Vanilla is stronger in flavor and works like a charm. Hops are vibrant and add just enough bitterness to really take it up a notch. The hop flavor is mostly floral. Alcohol is light and not all that noticeable. Finishes malty, a little bitter, and dry.

Cold Mountain Winter Ale has a medium body that's nice and smooth. Carbonation is light and doesn't hurt the feel at all. Drinkability is very high. This is a surprisingly unique and tasty holiday seasonal. It doesn't seem too strong. Each sip invites another. Too bad I've only got the single bomber.

I'm really impressed with Highland Brewing. This is the second beer I've tried from them, and each has been really good. I can't say that this is necessarily better than their Black Mocha Stout, but they're very comparable in terms of quality. I can't offer much constructive criticism here. This is good stuff that perhaps shouldn't be tinkered with much. Maybe the look would benefit from a nicer head. Yeah, that's about it. Excellent stuff. Thanks a ton, Dan!

prototypic, Jan 08, 2011
Photo of Deuane
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Thirsty Monk South.

A-Bright brownish copper with a medium tan head. Head reduces to a thin cap and leaves nice thick, rope like lacing

S-Wafting notes of chocolate, with accenting vanilla, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. All of this melds very nicely and does not overwhelm.

T-Semi-sweet caramel along with some drying cocoa/chocolate malts up front. A potpourri blend backing with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, cedar and orange making this one feel like a Christmas cookie in a glass!

M-Medium bodied and fairly rich without being sickly sweet or too spicy, Long lingering flavour profile.

D-One of my most favorite spiced winter brews. A near perfect combination of malt and spice that makes this one SO easy to drink!

Deuane, Feb 13, 2010
Photo of msubulldog25
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 22 oz. bottle sent by brentk56 some months ago, January 2007? Poured to a standard pint and enjoyed on June 16, 2007 - not exactly the middle of winter.

A: Pours auburn-orange and quite clear with bits of sediment suspended throughout the glass like a fine powder. offwhite 1/2-finger dwindles down quickly to a soap-bubble ring of foam. Smoke-thin film on top and minimal lacing.

S: Very sweet - vanilla, butterscotch, holiday spices, caramel. Has a baked goods-type enticing aroma and a very sweet one at that. Yummy.

T: Many of the smells come out in the flavor: cinnamon bread, nutmeg, vanilla, allspice and bitter cloves. A bit of maple syrup and some fresh, minty hops. Besides those flavors, I get caramel, toasted nuts and a slightly cocoa finish. Sounds sweet? Well, it is, but somehow enough hops entered the mix and balanced out those sweet malty flavors to succinctly delicious whole. Good job, Highland!

M: Crisp at first, then mellowing to an enveloping warmth. Carbonation is subdued and (unknown) alcohol level is nicely concealed. Some sticky cocoa malt in the medium body, but bitter in the end.

D: Quite an enjoyable winter brew. Even just days before summer, this one was still satisfying and delicious. I've read that the brew recipe changes each year, but I'll attest to the the fact that the 2006 batch was good and was still drinkable as of June 2007. Thanks for sending this one, Brent.

msubulldog25, Jun 24, 2007
Photo of argock
3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from 1-liter flip-top brown bottle into a clear pint glass. No freshness date. Purchased at Peabody's Wine and Beer Merchants (Boone, NC) for $10.49.

A: Amber with 1-finger off-white head that dissipates quickly and leaves a few spots of lace.

S: Delicious aroma array including caramel and toffee maltiness, some cocoa with marshmallows, floral hops, and interesting but subtle spicing that really works well which include cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. The spicing is not obnoxious like in many winter warmers.

T: The spicing really pays dividends with a varied, complex profile. Caramel-toffee is the leader, but sweet chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardaomom flavors are all there. The spicing is really excellently done -- not overbearing but accentuating the overall flavor of the brew with nice touches to produce a cohesive beer with a little tingle. Hopping is light but not forgotten with some floral, slightly minty flavors breaking through here and there. Vanilla frosting flavor is especially strong in the finish.

M: The only disappointing part of this brew is the thin feel. The body could be chewier. Aftertaste is very spiciy and vanilla-heavy.

D: Easily my favorite winter warmer -- I will be looking for this in-season next time around given how much my wife and I enjoyed this on an overwarm April day.

argock, Apr 18, 2010
Photo of IrishColonial
4/5  rDev -0.7%

IrishColonial, Jul 09, 2012
Photo of lupercmda
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%

lupercmda, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.72/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a crystal clear ruby amber. The head is tan, tall, and lasting to lace the glass.

The aroma is malty and bready. Similar to a scotch ale. Some slight gingerbread spices are present in the aroma. Also a toasty aroma and caramel. A very complex aroma to say the least with fruitiness, spices and malt.

The flavor is complex with malt sweetness, hop bitterness, spices and a multitude of hard to distinguish flavors in the background. Definite fruitiness, raisins or other dark fruits.

The finish is dry with muted spices and slight bitterness. The body is medium to medium full.

A very complex beer with quite a bit going on.

1 liter wax coated flip top bottle - 2003 vintage.

(Thanks to Loki for letting us know where to get the beer and Beerinator for picking it up!)

GCBrewingCo, Jan 31, 2004
Photo of flexabull
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of Loki. Thank you very much!

Cool looking big 1 liter bottle. Pours with a nice clear copper color, and a good head.

Aromas are faint, but what I do notice are some sweet and creamy notes.

Flavors are creamy with a lot of spice flavors, with vanilla being the most prominent. There is also a slightly smokey and apple like quality to this as well. Very interesting and flavorful beer.

Mouthfeel is good, maybe a touch light for my tastes though.

Very drinkable beer. Well made, and very interesting. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Certainly worth a try.

flexabull, Mar 16, 2007
Photo of ADTaber
4/5  rDev -0.7%

ADTaber, Dec 22, 2012
Photo of Immortale25
4.24/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Surprise keg at Thirsty Monk Asheville. Served in an Unknown Brewing pint glass.

A- Pours a reddish dark amber color with a 1/2 inch light tan head that retains well before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a solid sheet of surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a jagged ring behind.

S- Great notes of caramel, sweet dark fruit like sugary raisins, fig and some bready fruitcake all tied together nicely with a considerable hop aroma. Kinda ends up seeming like a light barleywine in the all-around bouquet.

T- Taste goes in the same direction with more dark fruit, brown sugar, maybe a hint of maple and even a nuttiness which I think may be perceptive due to the fact that it tastes so close to fruitcake. Once again, there's a solid hop presence behind all this which is what I think is the key to the complexity exhibited in the flavor profile.

M- Soft, almost creamy with medium-low carbonation and a fullish body.

O- Apparently this beer falls in the "used to be so much better" class of seasonal releases but I think this is a great beer. Kind of on the light side for a winter warmer in regards to both ABV and malt content but I can't mention enough how the hops really make all the spices sing together in a unique harmony. A must try if you have the chance. So glad I was able to six months after it was released.

Immortale25, May 30, 2014
Photo of ncstateplaya
4/5  rDev -0.7%

ncstateplaya, Nov 27, 2012
Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 596 ratings.