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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

603 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 603
Reviews: 299
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 12.9%
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: 603 | Reviews: 299 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Bitterbill
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Obtained in a trade with Brentk56. Thanks a bunch!!

To start off, I have the 1L taped swing top bottle ...it's very cool looking.

It pours into my New Belgium chalice a very nice amber with a smallish head of foam. It doesn't stick around very long and I'm left with just a ring around the edge of the glass and there's just a tiny bit of lacing.

The smell...I'm getting a huge whiff of vanilla, malt, and some other spices.

The taste is also very big on the vanilla with a nice burnt caramel malt backing it up. Swishing the Ale in mouth, I get a bit of citrus tartness and some chocolate notes and that has me smacking my mouth. This is a very unusual tasting sample of the style and I'm liking it.

The finish is on the bitterish side with flavours of hot cocoa and it leaves a pleasing long lasting aftertaste. I'm not getting too much warming so either the abv is fairly low or it's really well hidden. A *very* nice drop indeed. I'm glad I got this one in the trade. :^)

Bitterbill, Jun 10, 2007
Photo of willjansen
3.83/5  rDev -5%
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.

willjansen, Jun 06, 2007
Photo of Wasatch
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to slcbrewer for this brew.

22oz. Bomber

Pours a slightly cloudy amber color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy tannish head, some sticky lacing follows. The nose is sweet, malty, and lots of caramel. The taste follows the nose pretty much. Slightly dry finish. Medium body. Drinkable, a nice little WW, but not that high in alcohol content.

Wasatch, May 12, 2007
Photo of Cyberkedi
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured, it has a lovely dark brown color with a nice thick head. Aroma is spicy with a strong hint of cinnamon. The pleasant, zingy taste is malty with spice hints and very little bitterness. It goes down smoothly and is very satisfying. This holiday beer is a delight any time of the year, good by itself or as an accompaniment to a light meal.

Cyberkedi, Apr 23, 2007
Photo of tavernjef
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lush blurry cranberry red color with a slim, compact capping of lightly tanned creamy foam. Light lacing sticks low across the glass in a thin sheeting.

Aroma is fairly malty with a candied corn sweetness with some soft nuttyness and lower developed dark fruityness that seeps in a bit of cherry and raisin paste. Maple, vanilla, and toffee really begin to emerge as it sits a while.

Taste is a solid malty treat with a soft supple thickness displaying the whole way through, yet uncloying to the palate in any major fashion and making for a nice sipper. Flavors are well rounded and muted with deep, saturated dark fruityness. Mingling raisin, prune, plum, and dark cherry across the front and middle where the peak then hits with a very nice subtle turn into a bakery fresh softness of cocoa, cinnamon, maple, vanilla, and toffee. Which in itself has one uniquely fine drying effect thats all encompassingly great to behold. Excellent balance in flavors and tone. A very tasty subtle treat.

Body is about medium with a soft creamyness that coats the palate well and really sits nice once the peak hits. Then the finish ensues onward into a bakery goodness thats fresh and wonderfully drying without a whole lot of anything but ghostly remains of one well crafted beer leaving an impression on the taste buds.

A soothing drinker of a Winter Warmer. Subtle, malty, with an infused quality of bakery fresh doughnut toppings and fillings. Nice stuff.

tavernjef, Apr 13, 2007
Photo of malthead
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
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.

malthead, Apr 06, 2007
Photo of russpowell
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big props to Ddarden for this one, I really wanted to try this when I went back to NC last summer, but alas much like the winter snow, it was long gone.

Pours caramel/auburn with 4+ fingers of pillowy sand-colored head. Above average lacing & head retention

S: Slight toffee & caramel notes& a little vanilla as this warms

T: Toffee & hints of grain & vanilla upfront. Caramel, toasted malt & huge breadyness show up as this warms along with a little herbal hop bite. Brown sugar, choclate & more vanilla show up in the warming/bready finish

MF: Medium bodied & very smooth & low/low carbonation

Drinks so easy, a really pleasant winter warmer. One I think I could session on. I'll buy this if I ever see it again!

russpowell, Mar 30, 2007
Photo of hunteraw
3.4/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to ipa2xs for sending this one my way - it's the last of the beers I received in the No Name BIF....

Appearance: Garnet, almost purple in color. Good head, retention and lacing. Very clear. A fine looking beer, if nothing else.

Smell: Cocoa, heavy on the Christmas spices, definitely sweet-smelling.

Taste: Spices, maple syrup. Some cocoa and vanilla. Not much bitterness. Heavy flavors conceal the alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Thicker body than I think I'd prefer, somewhat syrupy.

Drinkability: I split the 16 oz and that was plenty... Not a huge fan on the whole - not beery enough for me, I suppose.

hunteraw, Mar 29, 2007
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 atsprings
4.6/5  rDev +14.1%
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.

atsprings, Feb 19, 2007
Photo of mwearl
4.83/5  rDev +19.9%
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.

mwearl, Feb 17, 2007
Photo of Westsidethreat
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to KilgoreTrout27 for this beer. Been wanting to try it for a while now.

A: Amber mahagony, clean and refined with a few dozen lazy streams up bubbles rising to the surface. Head has a good consistency to it, sort of a sandy color.

S: Cherries, molasses, butterscotch and marshmallow.

T: A lot of vanilla and butterscotch up front. Not at the level that its cloying or overbearing, a nice level. Delicate cherries, strawberries and perhaps apricot add an underlying fruity flavor. As it warms the spices start to come out; sasparilla and cinnamon primarily. Very doughy as well, this is almost like drinking a liquid christmas cookie. A very faint hop bite can be found in the finish, just enough to add more depth. Aftertaste is long lingering cookie dough and of course...vanilla/butterscotch.

M: Medium body, full and silky mouthfeel.

D: This beer could have gone either way. With that much vanilla/butterscotch flavor it could easilly be cloying, artificial or overbearing. The fact that I killed an entire 22oz without the sugar weighing on me speaks volumes. One of the more under rated winter warmers on the market, a beer that doesn't get much publicity. Its very similar to the Winter Solstice from Anderson Valley but blows it out of the water. This was probably the second best domestic winter warmer I had this year.

Westsidethreat, Feb 12, 2007
Photo of rodrot
3.35/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a very pretty dark red color with a solid half inch head that faded after a couple of minutes. Aroma: smell of nutmeg, vanilla, clove and other spices. The aroma was very faint however, barely detectable. Taste was of the same spices mentioned above along with some flavors of caramel, cherries and of all things- root beer. For some reason I kept tasting root beer in the finish. Mouthfeel was very light and easy drinking. I was quite disappointed with this beer. For a spiced winter brew, I expect something with more body and flavor. The spices were very muted and just didn't jump out at me. This beer is very sessionable however, just a little thin in body for my taste.

rodrot, Feb 03, 2007
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.4/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a rich garnet-hued body with wispy, seafoam beige head.

Smell: Spicy, fruity aroma of oranges, cranberries, cinnamon and maybe a bit of ginger.

Taste: Beyond the toasty malts, there is a real medley of flavors at work here. For me, I'm picking up orange peel, cranberries, mint, nutmeg, and cinnamon (which really comes through in the finish).

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Moderately carbonated.

Drinkability: Interesting and well-made, but not particularly to my liking.

ChainGangGuy, Jan 21, 2007
Photo of kkipple
2.48/5  rDev -38.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I was excited to see this locally in Columbia, as I'd wanted to try it for some time and had not been able to get my mitts on it. On draft, too! I eagerly ordered a pint...

...and was bitterly disappointed! I post this review bewildered as to what I actually drank, because apparently most everyone else loves this beer.

It arrived a rich, clear mahogany, no visible bubbles and a small white head which booked it within minutes.

I smelled this beer and immediately thought "Vanilla and cereal" ?? Several sniffs later I'd picked up marshmallows, cocoa, and again a weird cinnamon grain flavor. I said as much to my tablemates and one replied "Yeah, it smells like Life cereal!" Which is absolutely correct. I can't say I enjoyed the smell, but it's certainly different.

The taste was overwhelmingly cinnamon Life cereal! Loads of vanilla and sweet malt, no hop presence whatsoever. Very timid mouthfeel, and altogether too much vanilla and sweetness to be drinkable. I had trouble finishing my glass. No roasted grain flavors or subtlety.

The mouthfeel was moderately carbonated and bizarrely thin for a winter warmer, I like mine much fuller.

My bar summary notes end: "Vanilla and spice overpower -- too sweet to drink much of. Odd." And that about sums it up. Being the number one rated winter warmer on the site, I'm baffled as to why this was so bad. Perhaps a bad batch or one that was damaged during transit? I didn't note any unwelcome flavors or smells, but the sum of the mix was practically undrinkable. I'll try Cold Mountain again, hopefully from a bottle, and re-review it.
For now, it's a sad letdown from a brewery I really respect.

EDIT: I've had this several times from bottle since, and really, I still dislike it. Ah well.

kkipple, Jan 16, 2007
Photo of tastybeer
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear, warm, redish brown color under a creamy khaki colored head. Head is nicely sized and leaves an 1/8" layer once it fades. Lace is spotty and shifty. Smell is loaded with sweet aromas fitting of the holiday season. Sugary plum, maple, ginger, sugar cookies, and vanilla frosting mixed into grain and caramel malts. There's even some brighter aromas like cranberry and orange coming through. Generally well blended and pleasantly sweet. Taste has good depth and thick maltiness. Spiced and sweet flavors softly bittered with hops. Nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon... A nice festive wintery beer that is not excessively spiced like some winter warmers tend to be. Mouthfeel is smooth and coating. Very drinkable.

This would be great for or with dessert.

tastybeer, Jan 12, 2007
Photo of wedge
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep brownish red with a fluffy, soapy head. Smells exactly like frosting covered gingerbread cookies...wow. Sweet malty flavor nicely layered with ginger and other spices - mapley figs. Rich and complex. Solid mouthfeel with a fullish body and light carbonation. Pretty darn tasty winter ale...excellent on tap as well if you can find it.

wedge, Jan 12, 2007
Photo of SilentSabre
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was a little darker, and much sweeter than I expected. Poured a crystal clear dark orange bronze colour. Big soapy frothy khaki coloured head hung around for a while. It looked pretty nice. Smell was fairly hoppy, and a little sweet. Sweet grain, actually. Taste was completely different than I had expected based on smell. Bitter citrus hops up front, quickly quelled by sweet, toasted malty flavours. Delicious, actually. I was quite surprised. I liked this more than I thought I would. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, and very smooth and easy drinking. I must say, I'm quite surprised.

SilentSabre, Jan 11, 2007
Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this via trade! Seems this was the 05 version which differs from the 06. Many people seem to be on either side as to which year is better. My take - this is one of the more intriguing winter warmers I've had in recent memory. I am very happy to have gotten 2 so I can enjoy the other on another evening.

A - Rich red color, frothy white head takes a while to dissipate.
S- A combination of toffee, vanilla and tea. Malty but with a dry character.
T - Similar to the aroma but so much more complex. This one toys with your taste buds!
M - Medium bodied, nicely carbonated and dry in the finish.
D - Easy drinking, tasty drinking, Yes I'll have another. A winter brew that even at 22oz has you considering a second bottle.

barleywinebrewer, Jan 09, 2007
Photo of dgallina
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1 pint, 9 fluid ounce brown bottle without freshness dating.

Pours clear copper-tinged brown, with thin creamy tan head and great lace retention. Smells enticingly spicy and doughy. Primarily orange, ginger, cinnamon, and anise on a cookie and caramel malt base. Flavor strongly favors the Christmas spices. Doughy anise, ginger and orange are dominant notes and form something of a less-fruity liquid fruitcake. Finishes with gently drying hop touches, big black pepper, and cinnamon. Nicely balanced body keeps this easy-drinking throughout. Very good and the best of the Highland brews I've sampled so far.

dgallina, Jan 07, 2007
Photo of Neehan
4.7/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this as a Christmas gift from my favorite local store as a thank-you for patronage. The establishment will remain nameless so that they don't get hammered for freebies ;) but I must say I love these guys and I am very appreciative...And I must say this was a hell of a gift.

This poured a dark, rich and shiny amber with a small head an not much retention but the head remained as a nice ring.

The smell is of rich malts that fill the nose with mouth-watering, spicy complexities.

The taste mimics the smell but with a hint of dark roasts with a slightly burning finish. Incredible, and perhaps the smoothest winter ale I've had.

The mouthfeel is also solid, with a perfect balance of complexity yet quite smooth.

Easily the most drinkable winter ale I have had due to its smoothness and outstanding taste. If you are lucky enough to get this, then buy it, it's fantastic!!

Neehan, Jan 07, 2007
Photo of smurfyou
2.55/5  rDev -36.7%
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...

smurfyou, Jan 04, 2007
Photo of mountaingirl88
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this years taste from the Weinhaus in Asheville. Hard to come by, but well worth it. Loved it better than last years. Enjoyed the hazelnut flavor. Not crazy about all the vanilla, especially with the after taste. Smell and drinkability are absolutly delicious. I have had this in both the bottle and on draft. Prefer bottle, but since that's all gone draft will have to do. Usual Suspects is my favorite draft spot for this beer. They keep it nice and cold and still have some left!

mountaingirl88, Jan 03, 2007
Photo of Georgiabeer
3.73/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a light head and no real lacing. Looks a little richer than it turns out to be. Smells of soft vanilla and hazlenuts- a little sweet on the nose. Taste has a lot of vanilla up front- probably too much- followed by some soft hops and a final malt creaminess. The mouthfeel is a little thin, but there is a nice creaminess. A very drinkable beer, but I was expecting more. This feels a little simplistic and not the classic I was hoping for.

Georgiabeer, Dec 31, 2006
Photo of bjohnson
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A gift from warriorsoul...I think by way of aksmokedporter. Two pillars of trading.

A: Pours a dark rust color with a slight bit of purple hues. Nice frothy one finger head dissipates rather quickly unfortunately. Slight skim of retention.
S: An interesting caramel fruit essence. Big dark fruit presence, figs, nuts, and a bit of butterscotch. Surprisingly sweet smelling--figs are definitely big time here. A slight bit of cocoa.
T/M: Holy Fig! Figs and nuts galore with a sweet underbelly of butterscotch, maple syrup, and plums. Figs again, with a nice nestle cocoa powder flavor. Body starts out thick but then thins out pretty fast. Slightly bitter in the finish with that fig aftertaste. The fig tastes aren't bad or overwhelming, but just have a nice firm hold on this brew. Theres also a floral presence and I'm thinking of petunias, but that could be way off.
D: An interesting offering and one that I'm glad I tried--a bit off the course for me, though I really enjoyed it. This is one of the most unique and interesting beers I've ever had. Wonderful flavors and a bit complex.

bjohnson, Dec 30, 2006
Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 603 ratings.