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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

661 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 661
Reviews: 306
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 13.37%
Wants: 81
Gots: 94 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: RBorsato on 11-25-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 661 | Reviews: 306 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of craytonic
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark crimson-bronze, not opaque. Beautiful creamy head with a nice tint, nice lacing.

Smell: Cocoa (not chocolate) powder, nutmeg, light brown sugar, karo syrup, nuts, and spices. Nice maltiness.

Taste: Once again, cocoa, toffee & caramel, vanilla and spices, the taste, not the alcohol, is warming and lingers in the back of the throat.

Mouthfeel: It really coats the mouth and all the way down. Definitely a little lighter on the winter warmer scale. Alcohol content is lower, which is nice for our mild central North Carolina winters.

Drinkability: Excellent bomber. Not really what I expect in a winter warmer, but still delicious. Very much like a cocoa chai latte. I would grade it higher if the cocoa didn't leave a weird lingering aftertaste.

Photo of lightindarkness
3.93/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to ahatcher78 for thinking to throw this bottle in the Black Booty BIF.

22 oz capped bottle, consumed at around 58 degrees from a very large, fat-bowled Tripel Karmeliet tulip glass on a heavily snowed wintry day.

A - Pours a very attractive deep dark mahogany color with gleaming sharp ruby highlights. A nice fluffy bubbly khaki head ascends to the surface and melts like snow, leaving a spotting of finely bubbled lace.

N - Smells primarily of malt, with a faint aged tobacco roastiness and sweet caramel. Light candy sugar hangs over brown fruity bread aromas. Maybe a hint of alcohol and some thinly notable stale hay. Fairly nice balance, not too sweet, rather appealing, but slightly underwhelming and modest.

T - A very nicely crafted winter ale, hitting some of the highlights for the style. Heavily malted on the caramelly dark roasted side, with an excellent balance of sweetness to drier roasted nut and more bitter dark bread. Some deep fruit notes of date and fig are present but not nearly as dominant as some similarly styled beers. Flavor thins out momentarily before the finish, becoming somewhat more watery, then rounding mildly back in with a bitter tail end and fading grainy warmth mixed with mild fruity sweetness. Spice is mild and blends into the grainy bread flavors without distinguishable identity, adding a layer of complexity subtly hidden in the overall taste. Deceiving, it has a rather simple overall flavor profile, but with some nicely understated dimension.

F/D - Just enough on the fuller medium bodied side to satisfy amidst the snowy winter chill, yet light enough to remain drinkable around the fire, with dinner, or just a long winter day trapped indoors. Light, soft carbonation adds some dimension to the feel, filling it out some, but lost early in each sip to the fading drier bitter finish. Drinks easily, sip after sip, with a nice malty mouth coating that isn't too heavy but leaves a lingering want for more. After a while though, the flavor becomes somewhat nondescript, the aftertaste resonating with pickled beets and other less desirable flavors, leaving it wanting for more impressive stand out character. A seemingly sessionable winter brew, though the unknown abv leaves me wondering how long of a 'session' I would endure.

Photo of Tilley4
3.6/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a beautiful dark amber color with a beige head... Really beautiful looking brew... Looks like a Winter Warmer should..

Lovely aroma of Christmas cookies, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg... Smells very sweet..

Not quite as sweet as I was expecting... I'm actually getting quite a bit of hops out of this along with that sweet sugar cookie flavor and the vanilla.. Finishes fairly and dry and surprisingly boozy... Weird...

Looks and smells the part of a tremendous Winter Warmer but the taste doesn't quite do the aroma justice. Its still a good brew but I have had better WW's.

Photo of BeerTruth
4.22/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another one from tpd975, you 'da man!

22 oz. bomber poured into a standard pint glass. Another frigid night in Syrause, this brew seems fitting.

Pours a clear amber hue with a one finger light tan colored head. A fair amount of sticky lacing holds on to the sides of the glass. Aroma is rich with caramel and spicy malts, a touch of nutmeg, and fresh floral hops. Toasted nuts and molasses fill the nose as well. Very easy Winter Warmer to whiff, not overly spiced at all. Taste starts off sweet with sugar cookies, Terry's Chocolate Orange, and a dash of cinnamon. Midway some grassy hops, coconut, and vanilla extract emerge on the tongue. Aftertaste has a carmelized almond flavor with some ginger as well. Medium bodied with a crisp feel and a lively carbonation. I was really expecting much going into this beer but in the end I was very pleased. Come to find out this beer is the #1 Winter Warmer on BA, and for good reason. Great brew, thanks for the extra Greg!

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.28/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Unibroue tulip glass ruby red in color. Has great clarity, decent retention and good lacing.

Sweet caramel malty scent balanced by a delicate floral hop bouquet. Smells pretty simplistic, but nice, clean and fresh.

Wow, this goes down easy. Smoooth. Creamy malt bill followed closely by a nice hint 'o hops for a nice clean finish. Hints of cola, sorghum and coconut. Very fresh and balanced taste. I have been impressed with the few Highland offerings I have had so far. Would have no problem buying some more of these.

Photo of Bung
4.22/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

Photo of dirtbag43
4.03/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very enjoyable seasonal brew. Warm and festive with several different characteristics noticeable with each sip making you want one drink after another. Thick and malty with a smooth, vanilla-like candy finish. I had mine at Barley's Taproom in Knoxville, just over the mountains from where they brew the beer in Asheville. Freshness was great and I made several more trips back to taste this beer.

Photo of Atricapilla
4.63/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My wife and I really liked this beer. Pours a light-medium copper color, although when held up to the light, had some golden to it....Smells strongly of malt and slight (very) herbalness. Taste was malty and had a sweet aftertaste, almost like candy sugar. Taste had a bit of ethanol to it as well. This beer went great with dinner.

Photo of younger35
3.9/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this brew over a year ago as an extra from ncvbc. For some reason this is only the second Highland brew I've reviewed but there Oatmeal Porter is one of my favorites. Drank from my Surly nonic pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a super dark reddish-brownish with light hues of yellow and a decent half finger light tan head. The head never really recedes leaving a thin cap and thick collar yet almost no lacing.
Smell- Lightly sweet and spicy with a brown sugariness that is apparent from the start. Cocoa nibs and cinnamon along with maybe a bit of vanilla (or something vanilla like?). Slightly metallic and hints of caramel the nose is nice but perhaps a bit underwhelming.
Taste- Wow, however underwhelming the nose might have been the taste more than makes up for it. Loads of raw bitter cocoa, marshmallows and caramel. Some ginger and orange peel add a bit of spiciness and makes this beer resemble something like gingerbread. Slightly nutty as it warms and the hops that seemed non-existent in the nose are slightly citric and bitter. Bready and warm in the finish as the caramel lingers and lingers.
Mouthfeel- Nice heavy body with fairly crisp carbonation that lends a bit of sting.
Drinkability- Pretty damned tasty brew that is unlike any other Winter Warmer I've had before. Reminds me of something like liquid gingersnap. This turned out to be a nice change of pace that I really enjoyed. Wish I would have tried it fresh as I assume the spices would have popped a bit more. Thanks again Walter!

Photo of AgingWarrior
3.7/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark copper color with some reddish brown highlights into my Great Lakes pint glass. The pour produced a thick finger of tan colored foamy head with good retention and lots of lacing.

Smell is sweet malts, fruit and spices. The scent is a bit understated for a winter warmer.

Tastes a lot like it smells, a little sweet, malty but also somewhat different than most winter warmers. The spices are there, but subtle. Nicely balanced brew with a smooth and clean finish.

Medium body drink, smooth and creamy. Feels great as it washes over the tongue.

Smooth and easy drinking, very enjoyable.

Not exactly what I expected from a Winter Warmer, but a very enjoyable beer.

Photo of BrewerB
3.9/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to greenvilleguitar for the hookup on this beer!

A - Pours a medium copper color with great clarity and a well-retaining, thin off-white head. Some lacing when swirled.

S - Caramel sweetness combines with hints of orange peel, earthiness and a light presence of alcohol. Indiscernible spiciness.

T - Darkly toasted bread, herbal-spiciness, moderate level of bittering. Faint hints of the orange peel-type fruitiness are hidden beneath the maltier character. Even fainter smoky character. Pleasing medium-dry finish with a lingering toasty sensation.

M - Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Smooth, easy to drink.

D - Unlike some other winter warmers I've had, this beer has a nice balance between the spiciness and lovely dark toasted malt. I'm glad I cracked this open in the wintertime and it feels appropriate to the season. Were I to order at a pub, I could probably have 2, possibly 3 pints before moving on.

Photo of Oxymoron
4.05/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

As compared to a warm mountain in the winter? Pours a mostly clear chestnut brown color with some reddish hues through out. A soft off white head with good head and retention though limited lacing.

The nose is mostly malty with hints of spice. To start there is a big chocolate note that has more of a candy like aroma versus a chocolate malt. Some minor grainy notes as well. There is a distinct bready notes but this is emphasized by the spice notes. Mostly cinnamon, cloves and a touch of nutmeg. The spice is light though. Some yeasty note but not overly off.

The taste is similar, but the chocolate notes come out more if that is possible. The chocolate malt comes out a bit more as the candy notes back off. This is helped by the mouthfeel. Some lactic almost milky notes as well. A touch of astringency on the backend. A bit muddled beyond the choc notes but there is a nutty finish. The spice comes out a bit more versus the nose as well. Cloves comes out more but noticeable cinnamon and nutmeg. The yeast is noticeable as well and leaves a filmy finish.

The body is between moderate and full. Leaves a malty finish, but isn't too sweet. Nor does it have that under attenuated feel. Very nice malty and a light carbonation to back it. Overall a good beer with some minor faults.

Photo of badbeer
4.03/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark red color with an off-white head that retains well and gives good lacing. Wonderful smells of cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg, and caramel. I'm digging the taste. It's got a little bit of hoppyness for balance, but this mostly tastes like cinnamon-sugar bread with a little bit of allspice and a caramel finish. Carbonation is on the higher side and body is bordering light. I'm very happy with this beer and will need to get more of it next winter. Great job, Highland!

Photo of hwwty4
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jtrockchalk's aversion to winter warmers for this one, and to his Secret Santa.

Poured a double deuce into my Tripel Karmeliet tulip. This beer pours a light tan-ish brown with a 2 inch head that leaves a pretty decent lacing down the sides of my tulip. The aroma is really not like many winter warmers that I have had the opportunity to try. It's more on the camel, toffee, vanilla side then on any of the spicy, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove spices. The flavor follows suit with big vanilla and toffee notes, with just a hint of watered down coffee. The mouthfeel is just about perfect for where I think a winter warmer should be. Nice and full, and leaves a nice oily texture on the palate. This is a good beer but not one that I would really consider a winter warmer.

Photo of gabe23
4.6/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark reddish brown with a thick head that holds up quite well. The lacing is wonderful.

S - Sweet, malty and grainy. Perhaps some vanilla and cinnamon, but it's hard to distinguish all the individual scents. Very, very nice.

T - This beer is a malt lover's dream. Toasty and sweet, with a tiny hop bite to keep things in balance. The spice adds a great winter/holiday feel, without being overpowering.

M - Creamy and smooth with just enough carbonation.

D - I split a 22oz bomber with my Dad on Christmas Eve, and I immediately wished we each had our own bottle. This is a fantastic winter ale that goes down smooth and warms you on a cold night. While it's not light by any means, it seems to have a low ABV, and I could drink it all night.

Photo of aubuc1
4.08/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber poured in to a goblet

Pours a deep brown with ruby glimmering and a thinning tan head.

Smells like a malty, bready, plummy, spicey brown ale.

Bright taste of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), fruit, malt, and a chalky yeast. Surprising taste of chocolate in there.

Good mouthfeel, and easier to drink than I expected.

A very good beer from a good brewer.

Photo of waldoiverson
2.05/5  rDev -49.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

bomber into US Ping

A: minmal head with almost no lacing, nice dark copper color

S: smells like those heart candies you get around valentines day...no alcohol smell or hops, maybe a bit of caramel malt

t: sweetbitterness that is kind of chalky and chamomile floraly...not sure what's going on here but my mouth isn't happy

m: thin and tangy from carbonation

d: not sure about abv but on taste i'd not drink another...sorry highland

Photo of phishgator
4.63/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a22oz bottle. Nice copper caramel color with a white thick head. Hints of toffee and cream. A little bit of spice and a big shot of creaminess are through out the taste. The body is medium/heavy and the brew just coats the entire mouth. A little filling after one so I would say that a bomber is all I want in a sitting, but I will drink at least once a year if I get my hands on it!

Photo of ncbeermonger
4.47/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is seasonal, and tastes like christmas!

It pours a little dark, and has good head

Smells of nutmeg, cinnamon, and spice.

The taste is good, not over powering!

the mouthfeel is almost crisp, and not heavy

This is one of the most drinkable beers of its kind, check it out if you get a chance

Photo of HeyItsChili
4.28/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Pours a dark, murky garnet/amber with a foamy tan head that clings to the surface of the beer.

S - Vanilla, brown sugar,

T - Exceptionally complex. Sweet, almost cream soda like with the vanilla accent, spicy, warm sweet and roasted malt. Teeny bit of hops at the end.

M - Not too thick, a little crispness from carbonation.

D - Delicious. If I ever find my way into one of those ski chalets I hear so much about I'll down some of these around a roaring fire.

Photo of doppelmeup
4.5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

have to say that this is my favorite Winter Warmer, and I can hardly wait for its release each year. There is some great beer being brewed in North Carolina, and Highland Brewing is one of my favorite breweries.

Appearance: This beer is gorgeous to look at. A topaz colored brew with a thick, rich head that lasted all the way down the glass.

Aroma: This beer smells like a holiday party. Milk Chocolate, vanilla bean, brown sugar, sweet butter cream and just a hint of spice. Interestingly, the vanilla aroma remains throughout the glass. A key point about the vanilla. I've had some beer where the vanilla had a very artificial feel. In the case of Cold Mountain Ale, the vanilla aroma smells natural and real. I find myself looking for the vanilla been specs.

Taste: Sweet and malty. Brown sugar, vanilla beans, milk chocolate, slightly spicy, maybe a cinnamon or allspice note? But the spiciness is very subtle. The vanilla is well done. Not a lot in the way of hop flavor, but I wasn't really looking for a lot in this brew. A nice balance where the malty sweetness is pronounced, but not syrupy or cloying.

Mouthfeel: Creamy with a slightly dry finish. Velvety comes to mind.

Overall: This is a superb offering from Highland. IMO, it is the best Winter Warmer out there. I hope Highland Brewing keeps this year's recipe as the new standard. Track down a bottle of this beer any way you can. You will not be disappointed!

Photo of hellomcfly
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just had this tasty brew twice over on tap. The word of the day is balance.

A - My pint arrives a nice brown-amber color with a small tan head. A good lacing clings to the walls of my pint glass.

I get a nice chocolate malt nose with some spice character as well. Nutmeg and cinnomin perhaps?

T - Last years brew screamed gingerbread cookie to me and this one not so much. Very well balanced between sweet malts and a nice hop touch. This is a tasty winter warmer with nice caramel and chocolate malts, nice christmasy spice, and enough hops to round it all out. This is a nicely balanced beer. Fantastic representation of the style in my opinion.

M - Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Coats the mouth smoothly.

D - I'd like to know the ABV on this. I had two of them on an empty stomach and caught a little buzz but it is a fairly easy drinker. Two seemed right for me.

Photo of daliandragon
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have a healthy respect for this brewer, although most of their beers tend to be good rather than great. I was therefore surprised to see that this is the top ranked winter warmer on the site. It starts impressive, with a maroon color, near perfect clarity, and a wet tan head that shows very nice retention. The nose is sweet and spicy, with vanilla, caramel, and nutmeg wrapped around a base of dark malts.

The taste is more balanced than I expected, with some late hop bitterness that keeps the malts in check. The texture is a bit oily, particularly in the finish. Vanilla and toasted flavors lead the way here but if anything the sweet malt is understated, at least against my expectations. The texture is smooth with a warming finish. Alcohol is almost invisible. I wonder what the abv is. It matters not, you'll be hard pressed to find too many winter warmers that can top this one.

Photo of Walker8810
3.55/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

Photo of rtratzlaff
4.83/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served on tap in a 16 oz pint glass.

A deep brownish copper with a light head leaving little lacing.

Aromas are sweet with some spice character. Quite malty and interesting in the nose.

The taste is sweet up front with a cookie like malt character. Then some spice and just enough bittering to create a great flavor of... well a really good beer. Warming alcohol hits the belly and the flavors punch as the beer warms. This beer is a Christmas cookie in a glass. This is too good; I don't want to overanalyze it. Mouthfeel is medium with light carbonation. I could drink this throughout a cold December night. Here's to winter and a great beer to go with it!

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 661 ratings.