Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

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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

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Reviews: 307
Hads: 698
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 11.97%
Wants: 84
Gots: 110 | 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 gcamparone
4.14/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Acquired as an extra in a trade.

Pours a deep Amber, translucent body with an off white head that reduces to a ring. Pretty nice color!

Spices and malt, toffee, caramel dominate the nose. On the tongue is a really nice medley of sweet vanilla, toffee, caramel, butterscotch, and slight spices. Low carbonation, medium body.

It's held up since winter, I really enjoyed this one. Nice flavored all around (448 characters)

Photo of scbeerman
4.17/5  rDev +4%
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. (968 characters)

Photo of Jarnol21
4.74/5  rDev +18.2%
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 Tuckieman
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours rich amber color with a nice tan colored head that subsides slowing with mild lacing remaining on the glass and slight clumping once head subsides. Aroma of malts, slight hops with vanilla and hints of inter spices of cloves and cinnamon. Mouth is what is hoped for and expected with a winter warmer. Initial hit on the palate of slight hops with a vanilla mid and a light malty finish. Always one of my favorites during the winter. (441 characters)

Photo of Tilly
3.64/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice transparent brown with a huge thick frothy head. Aromas of carmalized sugar, vanilla and light fruits. Tastes complexed. Carmalized sugar, vanilla and light fruit taste! Go figure! Light mouth feel, light with not much bitterness. Nice winter ale. (260 characters)

Photo of KnucklesMcFisty
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%

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 east_tn_gk
4.75/5  rDev +18.5%

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 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 Jimlikesbeer
4.25/5  rDev +6%

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 zac16125
4.19/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into a Stella goblet
2014 vintage

A: Dark mahogany, 2.5 fingers width of tan head has good retention before dissipating down and leaves lots of lacing. 4.25

S: Chocolate, vanilla, caramel/toffee, hazelnut, cinnamon. The hazelnut/chocolate combo reminds me of nutella (I love nutella, btw). Nice aromas, but as a whole they are quite mild. 4

T: Really good. Lots of hazelnut and chocolate, again the taste reminds me of nutella, I also get some roasted malt, vanilla. Tasty 4.25

M/D: Smooth, medium body, carbonation on the lower end which is appropriate, has a feel of a “bigger” beer, in a good way. Drinkability is above average. 4.25

O: I very much enjoyed this, more so than I thought I would. I’ll probably add this to my “once a year each winter” lineup. 4.25 (800 characters)

Photo of Immortale25
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
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. (1,355 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 GarthDanielson
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a ruby-tinted caramel coloring with a thin, sparse, surface coating of foam. Aromas of roasted nut sweetness, plum, dates, raisins, berries, toffee and caramel in the backbone, and a subtle cinnamon spicing. Smells are rich, but light enough to refrain from overpowering. Flavors are roasted and rich forward, with a tart and tangy berry and nut sweetness blending on the palate, with some woody and subtle bitter highlights. The body is robust, but light, with a transition into a crisp, clean finish. The aftertaste is more of the caramel and toffee sweetness, although some fruity notes do linger through. Easy drinker and full of flavor. (694 characters)

Photo of Paincane
4.31/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Copper amber body with a pretty and creamy tan head. Excellent head retention and lacing.
S: Complex nose including spices and malt aromas. Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice notes.
T: Molasses, cinnamon, sweet malt & nutmeg flavors.
M: Smooth, creamy and warming.
O: Great winter warmer. (291 characters)

Photo of humuloner22
3.44/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This one has gotten a lot of attention, especially around the holidays, I have tried it for several years and I do feel that it has lost something this year (2013). It has a nice dark color, the smell is very festive for which it represents. It has an almost egg nogg smell and to a certain degree taste as well. I like eggnogg and I like beer and I do believe that this one balances that pretty well. Most holiday/winter beers have too much of one spice or another but this one balances it pretty well. But, this year did fall a little flat to me. I enjoyed it, its a great beer and much better than most, but there was a bit less of the things I used to like about it and more of the just average ale taste coming through. I like a good ale and this would be a good one by itself, but for a quarter of the price. Overall, I will continue to have a pour of this around the holidays, when I run across it. One thing I would like to try is it on draft, but that is nearly impossible to do, it goes extremely quickly and you have to be at the right place at the right time. I am like Dr. John unfortunately. (1,105 characters)

Photo of barczar
3.73/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a brilliant amber with a frothy, lingering beige head that leaves spotty lacing.

Nutty, toasted malt dominates the aroma, with a hint of specialty fruitiness and floral hops.

Flavor reveals soft underpinnings of spice, a backbone of toasted nuts, substantial malt fruitiness, and a lightly floral and fairly bitter hop finish. Cinnamon, perhaps nutmeg, and clove are very subtle...indistinguishable. Vanilla, cocoa, and oak surface in the aftertaste.

Body is moderate, with carbonation a touch high, and light alcohol warmth.

Aside from the malt fruitiness, metallic character, and slightly overly bitter finish, a very nice winter warmer. Like the subtlety of spicing. Good malt character, though it may benefit from even more. (738 characters)

Photo of Jhansengranger
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
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 bwiles
4.27/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Great combination of raspberry, cranberry and vanilla. It has a slight taste of cinnamon and hops. Smooth, creamy taste without an after taste. It has a good spicy smell which is pleasant. I like Cold Mountain as a good winter Ale. Highland has done a good job with this one. (275 characters)

Photo of watermelon
3.59/5  rDev -10.5%
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. (835 characters)

Photo of tmm313
4.39/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark brownish red color. Poured a super creamy 1 finger head. Awesome sticky lacing.
S- Raspberry, cranberry, caramel, and a touch of vanilla. Dank hops come out as it warms. Very inviting.
T- Sweetness. Got better and better as it warmed. Rich caramel, earthiness, raspberry, cranberry and vanilla. Cinnamon comes out as temp rises. Slight hop presence.
M- Medium body with medium carbonation. Creamy on the tongue.
O- I really enjoyed this beer. I took it to Xmas dinner to share with family, but drank 95% of it myself. I loved the uncommon flavor combination of the berries, vanilla, caramel, and cinnamon. Nicely balanced, as well. (643 characters)

Photo of ksimons
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A-kind of a amber ruby color with a fingers worth of head that leaves some lacing around the top

S-the smell is nice, caramel and warm winter spices

T-caramel malt, light vanilla, slight bitterness, and spices

M-medium body, moderate carbonation

Overall it is easy to drink but to me is not very exciting. I do like how the beer isn't overly sweet like a lot of winter warmers can be. (388 characters)

Photo of RyanPoff
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
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. (1,008 characters)

Photo of tillmac62
3.79/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 12/13. Pours a ruby amber with a nice head and lacing. Slight nose of sweet malt with a hint of spice and chocolate. Light medium bodied with a nice level of carbonation. Smooth, but not slick or creamy, mouthfeel. This is not a strong flavored ale. It has more of a subdued profile rather than a flavor bomb. Light spice, cinnamon/cardamom, over a light sweetness. Pleasant and not overpowering. Crisp finish that leaves a slight bitter and spice aftertaste that is also tart. (485 characters)

Photo of BeerGod27
4.63/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I couldn't decide what to drink yesterday. Our waiter suggested this beauty and I'm very glad he did.
This is a perfect beer for the winter months. It's sugary and malty with so much flavor.
Pours a dark brown with minimal head. Lacing is medium and streaky.
Smell is slightly spicy and cold.
Taste is smooth, malty and sweet. Flavors are caramel, spicy (without tasting like a Christmas tree) and bready. Good carbonation.
This beer is best enjoyed in a dark pub or at home with a book in front of the fireplace. I could easily drink this all day. (552 characters)

Photo of ChuckWagon
3.45/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Since I had my first Cold Mountain four years ago, I've looked forward to the release date. But every year, it seems like the quality slips a little, and this year (2013 - the beer was released just last Thursday) the slippage seems to have been a little more extreme.

Specifically, the intake of the beer was fine but the finish was abrupt and left a metallic after-taste. I thought maybe I was having an off day (happens) but a few other folks I've talked to since felt the same way. Like it could use some more time, or maybe something wasn't quite right with the recipe or batch. It was almost like the vanilla was short, or an inferior grade.

That said, it's still drinkable, but not quite as good as I remember it or hoped this year's would be. Maybe some time will help it out, or maybe not.

Your mileage may vary. (825 characters)

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