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
90
outstanding

307 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 307
Hads: 698
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 11.97%
Wants: 84
Gots: 109 | 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: 307 | Hads: 698
Photo of KYGunner
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%

The adjuncts are noticeable on the nose where vanilla is strongest. Hazelnut, malt, dark fruit, fruit cake, and a tinge of hops.

The front end holds vanilla but more tempered than the smell. The hazelnut comes next and then fruitcake. The fruit is mostly prune. The cake is mostly malty. The end is rather bitter but it's not detracting. The feel is a little too thin.

This is a rather good winter warmer that with a bit more malt could be great. (448 characters)

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

Pours dark caramel with brown hints, moderate dark white head bu leaves no lace.
Aroma of sweet caramel, toffee, bread, chocolate and some nuts.
Flavor of sticky, sweet toffee, molasses, honey, faint chocolate, cassis. No real bitterness at all.
Mouthfeel is relatively, light bodied hyper sweet with some moderately, dry bread tones and finishes with a hint of spicy hops.
Drinkability is good, very sweet which makes tough to put down a lot but very good. (461 characters)

Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a clear rusty amber with almost no head. The nose is a tremendous caramel and a slight woodiness (maple). The taste is just as sweet with almost no spice and almost no carbonation after sitting a few minutes. There is almost no alcohol present either. Overall it's an interesting beer to have mid summer, but it's not too bad. (341 characters)

Photo of wagenvolks
4.06/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed this on-tap in 2007, decided to re-visit it thanks to atsprings, who included this 12oz as an extra in a recent trade.

Poured into a standard pint glass a crisp, burnt amber color that thins to ruby at the edges. Not much head, but what little bit of manila foam that forms sustains itself well and clings to the glass to provide some attractive lacing webs. Very muted aroma...not sure if I got an off-bottle, because I remember liking the smell of Cold Trail quite a bit. Faint hints of toasted caramel malts and pecans (ah, just read the label: hazelnut extract). Sweet vanilla and cotton-candy notes pull through more so as it warms with a hint of floral hops.

Delicious flavor, with a rich, toasty caramel nuttiness that smacks with sweet buttered toffee and a superb balance of resinous hops that add just the right amount of bitterness. Medium-thin body with a tight carbonation level and a biting, semi-dry finish. All in all, an excellent, sessionable beer that helps keep Highland as one of the top 5 NC breweries in my mind.

{Edit: just noticed I rated the on-tap version exactly the same for the "big three" of appearance, taste, and aroma. Nice.} (1,171 characters)

Photo of DaPan
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours a clear amber color, no head to speak of, thin lacing and no retention.

Brown sugar, candy, and vanilla on the nose. Good start.

Taste is decent, same as above. Medium mouthfeel, low carbonation. Slides down really smooth.

Was anticipating more with this one with all the hype. All in all a solid brew, good quality. (330 characters)

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

Poured from a bomber into a Shiner Bohemian Black Lager pint and the brew is a nice clear amber/red color with a 1/2" lightish tan head. As this beer is consumed it produces ringed lacing on the pint.

The smell is heavy sweet malts and cinnamon.

The taste is sweetness from the malts and cinnamon with no bitterness or alcohol to speak of.

Medium mouth feel and lowish carbination help to produce some stickyness on the corners of the lips.

This is probably one of the sweeter beers that I have tryed to this point in my world beer tour, but it is my opinion that it is pretty spot on as far as style description goes.

I would highly recommend this beer to anyone wanting to find a great English Winter Warmer, but for me this style is a little to sweet to seek out. Perhaps with dessert this would be great, but as a cold weather sipper I'd look for another style. (876 characters)

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

Wow, I was certain this beer was gone for this year when my friends and I visited Tyler's taproom in Carboro and found they still had this on draft! The waitress said they had pulled it aside several times so they would have it later than anyone else. The beer possessed a deep rich ruby color with a thin off white head that was moderately diminishing and left very spotty lacing on the glass. The aroma was of layers of malts with some mild spices present as well. The taste presented a very complex spice variety on top of a great malt backbone. There was a presence of both vanilla and dried fruit.The mouthfeel was low in carbonation and the alcohol was very well hidden by the spice blend. This is a very great beer for a cold winter night, I just wish it was available in stores for more than 2 to 3 weeks each year. (823 characters)

Photo of n2185
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark, clear copper with two fingers of beige head that recedes into a thin ring with a little lacing.

S: Lots of creamy vanilla aromas with some light spice and caramel notes. Smells like a cream soda.

T: Some caramel malt flavors at first with light cinnamon and other spice notes. Creamy vanilla follows along with some nutty flavors as well. Roasted malt characters also peek through, bringing a slight bitterness.

M: Medium body with lowish carbonation, this beer is a bit on the watery side.

O: A decent beer that reminds me a lot of cream soda. I enjoy it fairly well, but it's not terribly complex and the watery body is a bit off-putting. (661 characters)

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

Thanks to Deuane for sharing a bottle of this at his recent tasting. Poured from a 22 ounce bomber into my glass and appears a clear deep cooper, almost brown color with about a finger of light tan head. The aroma and taste remind me of an orange tootsie pop. Notes of caramel and cocoa are also evident. The taste is much more complex than the nose would lead you to believe. Medium bodied and satisfying with medium carbonation. I'm looking forward to tracking a few bottles of this down next season. (502 characters)

Photo of bigfnjoe
4.25/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a Duvel tulip

A- pours a nice cherry red with a half finger tan head that sticks around for awhile. Nice looking beer, minus the head

S- huge aromas of raspberries and cinnamon coming through...wow, excellent and very unexpected

T- a nice punch of raspberries to start, then moving into some nuttiness and a little cinnamon to finish. Very unique, and very good

M- medium bodied, on the thicker side. Maybe a little too much body

O- most winter warmers are overspiced and generally taste the same. This one though, it's a nice changeup from the normal, and something that's done very well. Well done, Highland (640 characters)

Photo of clvand0
4.67/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big flip-top bottle. Thanks Sam. Pours a brown/amber color with a small head that hangs around nicely and leaves some lacing on the glass. The aroma is a wonderful balance of diacetyl, chocolate and caramel. The flavor is right on with the aroma. Lots of caramel and chocolate with a diacetyl that reminds me of marshmallows. The body is on the light end of thick and the drinkability is very good. (398 characters)

Photo of sholland119
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this '07 vintage in a growler from Loki in GatM. Thanks, Kipp.

A-Pours a clear ruby amber with a thin tan head and no lacing.

S-Sweet caramel malt, a bit of toffee and a little alcohol warmth.

T-Sweet caramel, brown sugar and some raisin with a little bit of nutmeg. Very nice.

M-Medium bodied, almost a bit thin for the style.

D-Tasty, very nicely aged. I will enjoy the rest of this growler.

HV (406 characters)

Photo of Onenote81
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was the third installment of City Bev's Freakin' Firkin Friday. Had a pint at the store yesterday. Pours a hazy brown-tinted copper. A small off-white head caps it off. Faint lace sticks around. The nose is potent with strong notes of vanilla, nutmeg, toffee, toasted pecans. Fantastic nose.

Extremely smooth, creamy mouthfeel, as was expected with the cask. Carbonation level is minimal. Perfect sipper. Flavor profile mirrors the nose somewhat with vanilla, cinnamon, sweet malts. The spices are more muted in this version of the beer, but this is still a splendid winter dessert brew. Perfect to sip on a crisp, cold evening.

*Note: This is the first beer that I have tried from bottle, tap, and cask. (713 characters)

Photo of JDV
2.32/5  rDev -42.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

bottle courtesy of DrBayern
Rich maroon brown with a fluffy beige head. Smell is sweet, malt, vanilla, cream and perhaps some butteriness or butterscotch. Kind of reminds me of scotch ales, which i'm not too keen on. Taste is smooth vanilla, cream and caramelly malt. A good beer, in all honesty, but something about the strong sweet vanilla like aroma that was a bit cloying or unpleasant to me. (396 characters)

Photo of aerozeppl
4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to scifan for the bottle.

A: Nice looking browning copper color. Quite a bit of clarity for this beer. A quarter finger of white head with minimal lacing. Really nice looking when held up to the light.

S: Really great malt nose. Smells like an oatmeal cookie. Dmeadows shared a fliptop at a Captain Lawrence release and that bottle had much more cookie in the taste and nose but it is still there. Quite a bit of sweetness as well.

T: Oatmeal cookie. Just a great taste. No spice which is great because often this style is too spiced. Tons of malt finishes very clean.

M: Little syrupy. Full bodied.

D: Really great beer and one of the better examples of the style I have ever had. Thanks again to scifan for the bottle. (732 characters)

Photo of CrellMoset
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale, out of a 22 oz. bomber, courtesy of dkachur - thanks!

Appearance: Pours a slightly dull brown amber body, slightly orange perhaps, capped by a two-finger, tan head. The retention is average, though it does leave huge, sticky clumps of bubbly lacing, almost Swiss cheese like. Lots of fine bubbled and fast effervescence, too.

Aroma: Incredibly sweet and caramelly, doughy - I'm going to go so far as to call it cookie-like. Or perhaps graham cracker-like. Yess, excellent. Hints of cinnamon and ginger round out the nose. Very pleasant and inviting, definitely reminiscent of winter.

Taste: More of the same, and that's a good thing. Lots of earthy, roasted malts, like graham crackers and gingersnaps covered in dirt, but, way more appetizing than that sounds, promise. Flourishes of maple syrup, brown sugar, and molasses round out the malt notes, and hints of ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon, similar to the nose, make an appearance too.

Mouthfeel: Thick, but with more than enough carbonation to even it out, making for a light though slightly uneven beer. Does even out a little as it warms.

Drinkability: Nothing wrong here. The abv% is low (I think the bottle said 5.6%?), flavors and aromas strong and pleasant, warming without the heat, and the mouthfeel light but not too light. Just a nice, easy-going brew. (1,355 characters)

Photo of inlimbo77
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz, 2012
DFH signature

A: Deep amber color. It's filtered nicely, as you can still see through it pretty well. Thin layer off white head. Faded pretty quickly.

S: Holiday spices. Some hop notes. More on the earthy side than fruity. The holiday spices really dominate.

T: You get a little hop bitterness up front, then that holiday spice and malt pick up in the middle of the mouth.

M: Medium bodied. (405 characters)

Photo of Treyliff
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A- pours dark copper color with a two-finger light creamy head, good retention after pour, a bit of lace

S- dried cranberry, vanilla bean, hazelnut, sweet raspberry fruit, sweet caramel malt. Aromas are pronounced and inviting, very nice

T- so many flavors going on; vanilla, berries, hazelnut, dried cranberry with a raspberry tartness, the finish is balanced by sweet caramel malt. By far one of the most complex winter Warner's I've had.

M- medium body, low carbonation, creamy mouthfeel, velvety smooth finish

O- most Winter Warmers seem to taste the same for the most part, but this one sets itself apart from all of the other typical flavors of the style. The flavors are more complex and are reminiscent of the season. I'd gladly purchase this again and again. (772 characters)

Photo of mentor
4.67/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bomber generously provided by GCBrewingCo. The bottle in my hand tonight is different than the one pictured on this site. I think the bottle I'm enjoying now was patiently aged by Mike for two years. I reviewed one of the pictured bottles about 6 months ago and loved it so much I've been trying to get more ever since.

Pours a half-finger light brown head over a crystal clear brown-rust liquid. Smells...like gingerbread cookies! Biscuit malt, sugar dough, light sweet ginger, and hazelnut. Tastes...like gingerbread cookies! Graham crackers, maple-flavored sugar candies, caramel, sweet hints of ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Biscuity malt, but also just a ting of a sour that I think doesn't quite fit. The graham crackers persist during the swallow and the caramel develops into more of a toffee. The aftertaste has some chocolate and is quite dry on the flat of my tongue. Medium in the mouth, but its got a relatively thick viscocity. Carbonation is mild and quite in tune with the flavors in this beer.

This beer is an example of flavors that are well balanced and complimentary. None of the flavors rise to dominance or fade under pressure from other flavors. Instead, they tumble around like vegetables in a simmering stew. Dancing along the surface and bumping gently into others, sending each off in a new direction. I absolutely love this beer and am already thinking about how I might get a case of this when it's next released. (1,448 characters)

Photo of Ryan011235
3.22/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter on 12/14/10

11/23/10 etched on the bottle

Much appreciation to CruisaC for hooking me up with this Highland beer that has eluded me for years

Pours an amber brown color that has a rusty hue in the glass. One finger head holds briefly before receding to a patch of bubbles covering 75% of the surface. A little bit of lace sticks to the glass.

Malty with spices aplenty, the nose is reminiscent of sweet cinnamon bread. Notes of earthy hops waft about amid hints of nutmeg. Enough spice & bitterness to grab the nostrils without going overboard. Slight spot of honey & gingerbread as it warms. Smells good.

Ah, the taste doesn't back up the strength of the aroma. With each sip comes a clustered cavalcade of cinnamon & other spices leading into a dry bitterness that is much like tea leaves. Toasty bread notes toward the back half (a faint notion of yeast is had on the first few sips). The flavors seem disconnected; uninterested in mingling.

The feel is surprisingly thin & watery. It doesn't help that the carbonation is prickly for but a moment up front, losing momentum mid-swallow. A minimal grittiness toward the end. Finishes dry with toasted bread & an artificial spiciness. Not much alcohol heat.

Drinkability is ok; I'll have no problem finishing it. That the flavors don't gel & the feel is loose makes for a scattered sort of beer. Possibly a tad better as it warms, it isn't enough to save this one for me. It the taste were blended as well as the nose & the feel were more robust, this would be a winner for sure. (1,558 characters)

Photo of GJ40
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled from a 22oz bottle in a standard pint glass.

A - Light brown with good clarity and a moderate tan head that dissipates quickly.

S - Sarsaparilla and a touch of coffee.

T - Caramel, sarsaparilla and a touch of hops. A hint of bitterness and a mild sweetness. Spiced but not overly. It's very smooth and balanced.

M - A smooth, silky consistency with a nice low carbonation.

D - A nice complex and interesting flavor. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would.. (473 characters)

Photo of JISurfer
4.83/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow, this is one hyped up brew! I must say though, it lived up to my expectations. I thought it tasted more like an old ale, than anything. It had the kind of "olde" taste to it. The appearance on this beast was magnificent. Solid amber color, with one kick ass head. The head was an tannish/off white color and was as thick as a Guinness head. It even lasted the whole brew. I detected hints of citrus, some hops, as well as caramel malts, and some various other flavors that I wasn't sure what they were. It had a very creamy mouthfeel and was quite refreshing at the same time. The drinkability was easily a 5.0. If I were marooned on an island, I would have to bring this stuff with me. This is no doubt, the best brew I have had from Highland thus far. Tommorrow I do get to try the Mocha Stout, which I have high expectations for as well.

Major big props to Disclosednot for hookin' me up with the Cold Mountain. He saved me from a deep depression of not being able to find this stuff anywhere. Thanks bro! (1,015 characters)

Photo of joe1510
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

32oz Swingtop

Huge thanks to, Wilson, for this monstrous drink. Cheers, dude! Glug, glug, glug from the hefty liter bottle. A chestnut brown liquid fills the glass with enough clarity to read the interwebs through the body. Ruby highlights accentuate the sexiness. The ecru head is short but stout, with the boldness of immovability. Lacing sticks in sheets.

The nose is complex but seamless. It won't hit you over the head but give you a massage instead. Ginger flashes upfront with candied citrus peel up next. Dusty cocoa, a touch of spicy hops, and rich caramel all seamlessly interact. Soda bread maltiness make for a subtly sweet base. Raisins and toffee rise from the depths with warmth.

While the nose was subtle and complex the flavor is straight up robust and comforting. Caramel, soda bread, and toffee all play large, complex roles. Raisin sweetness is soft and well rounded while the ginger adds a quick zip of vibrancy. The candied citrus peel is hidden but peeking its head free. A dusting of cocoa powder is the cherry on top. You've heard of comfort food; here's comfort beer.

The body weighs in at moderate. I thought this was a little low on the first few sips but as I drink more I don't believe I'd change a thing. A bigger body would be too large for such a well rounded, subtly but deeply complex libation. Carbonation is soft enough to allow each flavor to be processed while active enough to keep any stick away. Semi-dry finish.

Cold Mountain is a handsome beer. Every aspect is a hit in my book and spiced beer isn't usually my thing, in this case it's done with a deft hand and great knowledge. Smells delicious. Tastes immeasurably complex, well rounded and comforting. Tastes like a fruit cake that's actually good. Like how you think a fruitcake would taste if you've never had one and were told its ingredients. Delicious! Thanks, Wil! (1,873 characters)

Photo of kell50
4.52/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Oh Cold Mountain how I love thee. This is the pride of North Carolina Brewing and is something that us North Carolinians thirst for as the temperature drops. This review is from the 2011 version.

A: Reddish-copper color. Relatively clear with a nice looking white head and moderate lacing all the way down. A perky brew that just begs to be drunk.

S: Not a ton of aroma off the nose. Perhaps a few mild spices, i.e. vanilla, nutmeg, malts and a small undertone of hops.

T: Amazing. There's a great vanilla/cream soda thing going on here. Add in some great malts and a dash of hops and this is one fine beer! This particular version (2011) is a bit sweeter and less hoppier than the previous year. The balance of flavor is what makes this winter warmer an absolute winner.

M: Great taste. Very full-bodied with a nicely balanced malt/hop taste. As this beer slighty warms the vanilla and spice flavor becomes even more prominent. I've never had a beer quite like it.

O: This is an Outstanding beer. Highly drinkable and it's a must to split with friends. Do yourself a favor and seek it out. (1,097 characters)

Photo of brewcrew76
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle

A - Slightly hazy auburn with a thin tan head that disappeared immediately.

S - Malty with butterscotch, roasted nuts, cocoa, dark fruits, raisins and maple syrup. Hints of spice in the background but I can't pick out what exactly.

T - Cocoa, dark fruits, raisins, cinnamon, maple syrup, bready all with an herbal tea likeness. Reminds me of christmas cake or gingerbread. Very fitting for a holiday beer.

M - Medium body and smooth which creates a soft creamyness.

D - A very good winter warmer that truly tastes like a holiday beer. A little much for me to drink more than a bottle but would make a nice sipper by a warm fire. (655 characters)

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 307 ratings.