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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

577 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 577
Reviews: 298
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 13.15%
Wants: 77
Gots: 58 | FT: 3
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: 577 | Reviews: 298 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to hopdog for unleashing this '05 bottle at the tasting...
Appears a semi-transparent orange toned brown with an ivory white head that fades into a collar. Little streaks of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of caramel, vanilla, juniper, orange peel, cranberries, and biscuits.
Taste is of the aromas with a highlight of caramel and berries.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, mildly spiced, along with a light sourness that fades into a wild spiced and hopped finish.

weeare138, Dec 22, 2006
Photo of NClifestyle
3.38/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

uh oh, folks. we might have a problem here.

i visited wine warehouse here in greensboro last night for a highland brewery tasking. every beer was present and accounted for, including this years cold mountain. sadly, it's not up to par with the last few years, and below my extremely high expectations for this wonderful brew.
looked great, dark amber to rich red/brown. decent off white head, some lace to speak of, so that was fine.
the aroma was lacking, there was a bit of spice, but nothing special.
the taste was the major issue for me. i actually enjoyed the vanilla and spice of the past. although there is a bit of vanilla in this one, it's just barely there, and mostly hides behind the earthy bread and dirt taste. definitely much more in the bitter/grain department this year. hints of cinnamon, vanilla and maybe a touch of fruit like orange or grapefruit are in the mix, but very minimal.
mouthfeel was fine, maybe even a bit more full, compared with previous years.
i would still drink many of these if on tap, but it seems like this is a different, possibly hoppier, version of cold mountain, and a departure from the typical makeup of the past few offerings.

my buddy dale, a complete hophead, and my girlfriend, who does not like sweeter beers, said they liked this years cold mountain much better than ever before, so take that for what it's worth.

cheers...

NClifestyle, Dec 20, 2006
Photo of RedwoodGeorge
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I just love using the word "mahogany" when describing a beer so I'm happy to say this beer pours a clear deep mahogany color with a dense one finger tan head. The crown dies off after a while and doesn't leave much in the way of lacing on the inside of the glass.

The aroma is out of this world with exotic spices and warm, comforting notes. There's a clear vanilla note along with coriander and a fruit or two all riding on a deep caramel-thick sweet note.

The flavor is complex, balanced and (thankfully) far from overly sweet. There's a clean caramel note at the base with hints of apple, raspberry and peach adding quite a bit of depth. On top of that is an interesting blend of spices including nutmeg, coriander and allspice. There's also a bit of spruce in the flavorings with an almost bubblegum like note. There are enough flavors in each sip that you keep going back because you know there's one more that you missed in the last sip.

Mouthfeel is spot-on. Despite the tendency towards sweetness this is a medium bodied brew with no cloying mouthfeel and enough carbonation to liven up each sip. While there's not really any hop present in the aroma or flavor, there's a reasonable amount of bittering at the end of each sip leaving a nice dry finish. I know Highland is increasing the ABV now that the cap has been lifted in NC but there's no hint of alcohol burn or sweetness anywhere in this brew.

All in all this is a very flavorful brew and one more reason why I like winter seasonals so much. It's not something I'd want to drink as an 'everyday' brew but as something special that comes around once a year, this is certainly something special.

RedwoodGeorge, Jun 02, 2006
Photo of Backer2004
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Too bad it was 92 degrees outside in the sun at a BBQ when I had this. Absolutely delectable, my favorite Highland brew so far. Not just a nice smell of chocolate and vanilla, but the same taste as well. Even on the colder side, the flavors really come out. Would love to get a whole bunch of this six months from now.

Backer2004, May 30, 2006
Photo of LuckySevens82
4.58/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle courtesy of Jason at Knightly Spirits.
Pours a deep reddish brown with about a finger of deep tan head. Retention is lacking, but lacing and collar are quite nice.
Smell is deep cocoa, some caramel, toffee, and slight hops. Dark fruits abound and are all covered in a chocolate scent. Cherries, plums, etc, are present, all cordial and all very nice.
Flavor is profound chocolate, almost like hot cocoa. Chocolate covered cherries, slight to moderate hop bitterness and just a hint of bakers chocolate round this one out.
Mouthfeel is full and wonderful.
Overall, an exceptional winter beer worthy of a cold night or any other night for that matter. This is a beer worth seeking out no matter the cost. I have yet to have an even mediocre beer from Highland, and this exceeds all expectaion. Just darn great.

LuckySevens82, Apr 03, 2006
Photo of thaichile
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. 22oz. Pours a deep red with hardly any head. Scents of spice on the nose. Delicious spiced fruit cake with some marshmellows and vanilla flavoring. Maybe my favorite winter to this point. Can't wait to have it again. Thanks to derrickt007 for the bottle.

thaichile, Mar 15, 2006
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Warmly glowing crimson-infused dark bronze that is as clear as the Cold Mountain air. The cap is toasted marshmallow in color with a slight hint of orange; a wonderful complement to the beer on which it sits. It's thick and creamy, in no hurry to depart, and deposits a good bit of lace on the upper portion of the glass. A pleasing look for a winter warmer.

The nose is rich, malty and inviting. It reminds me of warm cocoa with a generous sprinkling of spice. In fact, this is the most cocoa-like (not chocolate-like) nose that I've ever run across. Try as I might, I can't even begin to guess what spices have been added. Warming brings out definite brown sugar notes, upping the ante and making me love it all the more.

The flavor is different from any winter warmer in recent memory. It's perhaps closest to a porter in terms of mouthfeel, even though it isn't very porter-like in execution. The flavor is low in terms of roastedness, leaning more heavily towards milk chocolate, toffee and vanilla. It reminds me of chai, which makes me think that cardamom and ginger are at least two of the added spices. Different and delicious.

Hops play a secondary role, yet their bitterness is noticeable throughout. Unlike most winter warmers, this one favors tea-like bitter over sweet (no wonder the chai comparison comes so easily to mind). I normally prefer sweet and sippable, but it's hard to argue with what the brewers at Highland have created. There's no evidence of alcohol. If forced to guess, I'd say the ABV is in the vicinity of 6.0%.

I was initially a little let down with the body/mouthfeel. I expect the good versions of this style (which this most definitely is) to be at least medium-full and to be slightly chewy. Things have improved with time and warming, but it still favors the easily drinkable side of the continuum over the full, sticky and sippable. I've chosen not to mark it down since it's well within the bounds of acceptable and since it absolutely oozes quality.

CMWA is a uniquely flavored beer from what I've decided is the best brewery in the state of North Carolina. Since winters in the Tar Heel State don't come close to resembling winters in the upper Midwest, there's no need to create a heavy, high alcohol ale to warm the natives. An amazingly delicious one like Cold Mountain will suffice quite nicely.

BuckeyeNation, Mar 03, 2006
Photo of guinnessdoc
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep red, rust color with a 1/2 inch tan head that fell away quickly to a thin layer.

The aroma was an interesting mixture of fruit, spice, and a vague hint of liquor. I want to say there's something else there but I can't say what it is.

I guess I should have been ready for lots of flavor but this one really surprised me. A complex blend of orange, spices, and malt that combined, come across as very sweet with a bitter finish.

Definitely a lighter mouthfeel than I expected from the big aroma and flavor but smooth and slightly creamy.

As for the drinkability, UncleFlip put it best when he said, "I had to keep taking sips to keep finding more flavours in it." How true. For me, the bomber I had tonight was just the right amount.

guinnessdoc, Feb 25, 2006
Photo of mikeys01
4.6/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer came to me courtesy of GCBrewingCo as part of the infamous OneBox BIF, and I’m pleased to report this beer previously unbeknownst to me is damn downright delicious. Not knowing what to expect, this winter ale appeared in my pint a dirty sunset of reddish brown, quite good clarity with just a hint of chill haze. A modest light tan head caps this beer at pour, soon fading to a thin layer of foam and lacing.

Aroma is very toffee sweet and malty, giving a mere hint of its true nature. At the first taste, the Cold Mountain is lightly nutty (almond and hazelnut to me) and pleasantly sweet with a dash of spice and a pleasant vanilla character. Just a trace of hop presence lingers in the foreground as well, with a bit of apple nudging its way in there. Body is on the full side of medium and this brew is exceedingly drinkable. Finish is clean and malty sweet. I think I could drink many pints of this one. This is a beer that is just plain good without being extreme in any way.

mikeys01, Feb 08, 2006
Photo of Jredner
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is complex and hard to crack. There is some marzipan (with light almonds), cocoa, white cake, lots of subtle fruit notes and a very bready maltiness. Color is amber with a rich, creamy tan head. Fore is full of sweet candied fruits (raspberry, cherry dominate) and that is followed by more sweet malts. Chocolate and cherry linger in the aftertaste. It’s simply tasty and approachable. Would be a great holiday beer to give to frieds.

Jredner, Jan 27, 2006
Photo of BEERchitect
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, yet clear, brown with ruby hues and an unwavering foamstand. Promises to be creamy and rich right out of the bottle. The first whiff reveals a solid barley malt base with notes of toffee, pecans, chocolate, and a spicy hop balance. Tastes full and rich with the nutty, chocolate, and toffee flavors with a light roasty and toasty hint in the finish. The finish also releases a light hop spiciness and dryness. The beer remeains creamy and full textured until the finish where it thins nicely for a clean and easy finish, but never became watery. The beer remids me of a lighter Sam Adams Chocolate Bock with added flavors and complexity. This beer improved greaty as it warmed to room temperature.

Thanks Merlin48

BEERchitect, Jan 21, 2006
Photo of dirtylou
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber, brought from nc by blackie, on his tractor

appearance: pours light but richens up in the aggregate to a deep copper color, a light foamy beige head forms and leaves a light lacing around the rim

smell: loads of spices - nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, touch a clove...definitely smells of the season...gingerbread, light chocolate, graham cracker aromas..smooth hoppiness, touch of pine

taste: quite tasty, very delicate...tastes like gingerbread, quite nice cinnamon flavours, a very light chocolate flavour in the background...some clove, nutmeg, and other spices of the season...fresh but subdued lightly piney hops, perhaps a touch of pumpkin

mouthfeel: a little thin, moderate carbonation, very delicate on the tongue

drinkability: very drinkable

dirtylou, Jan 17, 2006
Photo of rajendra82
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Started getting the beer this year in Georgia in 22 oz. bombers (without the flip top), so went head and picked some up at Bullock’s on Sandy Plains in Marietta to sample what the North Carolinians have been raving about for so long.

The body came out deep reddish brown with a smallish foamy head that started off at one finger thick, and stayed at that level for a while. The smell was just absent, with even deep inhalation revealing almost nothing, except some timid floral to citric hops. The taste on the other hand was much more expressive, comprising of sweet caramel malt with just a hint of chocolate, winter spices (ginger, cinnamon, and clove), and citric hops all complimenting each other quite nicely. Much lighter in body than most Winter Warmers, with the lively carbonation sparkling across the tongue like a soda, this felt more like a spice enhanced Bitter. Quite easy to drink, and relatively low in ABV, this is very suitable for the milder Southern climate, with its pseudo winter.

May be next year, they can pump up the recipe to the next level, now that the cap has been popped,

rajendra82, Jan 15, 2006
Photo of blitz134
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark copper color on the pour, crystal clear body. Single finger off white head which finished in a thin layer.

Spices really come through in the aroma. A nice spiced blend of nutmeg and ginger and a touch of cinnamon. Hops are prevalent with a little pine.

Taste is much more powerful that any other winter warmer I've had, although I still don't find it loaded with flavor. This type of beer is just a bit subtle, but delicious. Overall it has a bit of a caramel sweet body which comes through to start with, then the spices come on with a very nice crispness. Spices are much like the aroma, nutmeg and ginger. Then a bit of hop bitterness comes in and the spices come back in the finish.

Mouthfeel could be a touch thicker, but does a good job coating the mouth well to let the spices come though. Drinkablity is great. This is a very refreshing brew with a nice crispness.

blitz134, Jan 12, 2006
Photo of DeaconBluez
4.6/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22ozer

poured a fading brown. little over a finger head. lacing is better than the head.

i can smell very little in this. little bit of malts and spice.

taste. wow! now this what i think most winter warmers should strive for. hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. vanilla pops its head in there as well. perfect blend. some hops. but the spices is what really stands out on this. it really makes one think of the holidays.

mouthfeel is nice. there is not a lot of carbonation on this, which is nice, i am not burping on this.

drinkability is very good. i wish this was offered all year long. the taste is what make this beer a good one in my book. wish i was in a state that sold this because i would go out by several more right now. go buy now!!

DeaconBluez, Jan 12, 2006
Photo of TheEclecticGent
4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This winter warmer is from one of my favorite breweries – Highland Brewing Company, Ashville, NC!! Salute! This beer pours a dark amber color with light carbonation. The smell is a deep spicy aroma. The taste is a deep and murky red “Scottish” ale flavor with spices and a nice molasses finish. The mouth feel is slightly heavy and full. This is a great beer, I need to go get more before the season passes.

TheEclecticGent, Dec 31, 2005
Photo of clvand0
4.7/5  rDev +16.6%
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.

clvand0, Dec 29, 2005
Photo of UncleFlip
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005 release. Bomber picked up at Green's in ATL.

Nice deep copper with a two-finger tan head as it hits my Grumpy Troll pint glass. The head retention is good, but the head looks scraggly with very uneven bubbles.

I have to mark off for aroma, as I had a hard time picking one up. What I got was a deep maltinees with a hint of peppery spice woven throughout.

Wow....very complex in the first second or two! All kinds of things going on here....from earl grey tea to dark chocolate to coffee to dates to nutmeg to something awfully familiar that I just can't place. :) The flavors hit you hard and fast, then mostly face, leaving a deep, dark sweet aftertaste with a bit of that peppery spice. Sometimes even reminds me of the flavours I get going on in a really good cigar.

Mouthfeel is EXACTLY what I would expect....not too assertive on the carbonation, and the liquid fits perfectly with hte flavour of this one.

I give this tops for drinkability, as I could not put it down. I had to keep taking sips to keep finding more flavours in it. It's very complex and intriguing. You'll need more than one to get everything out of it. :)

Be well
-UF

UncleFlip, Dec 26, 2005
Photo of Enola
4.88/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is Highland's best effort. I wish this was a year-round offering. The appearance is a nice mahogony color. It had a decent head. The smell is a sweet, fruity smell. The taste is of caramel. It has a sweet taste to it as well. The mouthfeel is second to none. There is no negative aftertaste. No bite, nothing but smoothness. This is one of the best beers I have ever had. You can bet your ass I will be finding some more before the supply runs out.

Enola, Dec 25, 2005
Photo of beerhandy
3.58/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours a murky brown with a thick tan head that quickly subsides to a thin layer of foam.The aroma was cranberries with
subtle notes of pumpkin pie.The taste was malty sweetness with faint cinnamon and clove spiciness.The hops are subdued but dry it up in the swallow.The body was a bit thin perhaps a bit cidery.
A good winter warmer .

beerhandy, Dec 21, 2005
Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.6/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A beautiful, deep mahogony color is poured from a 22oz bottle. A luscious, tan head is formed atop the brew and leaves a small amount of lacing down the glass.

Smells like the holidays to me. Gingerbread and nutmeg and cloves are big in the nose. I long for some more holiday flavors and spices from this beer. If I could bottle this and put it in a holiday candle, I would. Maybe I will just pour it into an potpourri steamer.

"Um, I'll have the gingerbread with a side of cinammon. And go big on the malts please" is my order to the barkeep as I desire a second helping of this delicious beer. Also a great balance with some fruity hops as well. Perfectly balanced and great taste.

Hop bitterness and sweet, smooth character of the malts. Sweetness and tartness of the spices. "Thank you sir! May I have another!" This offering from Highland has me longing to be in my homeland of Scotland, tooting tunes on the ol' bagpipe, and a gallon of this sweet nectar in my kilt. Cheerio!

SaCkErZ9, Dec 19, 2005
Photo of nickss
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful deep amber hue with a monstrous cap of rocky cream colored foam.

Smells faintly of hops and malt... however I can't pick up on much else.

Unlike the smell, the taste is an explosion of different flavours... The first I picked up on was gingerbread, followed by subdued brown sugar... cinnamon follows closely behind. None of these are overwhelming, but rather are beautifully balanced against each other.

Medium bodied, and fairly active on the tongue.

Extremely drinkable... I wish this brew was a bit cheaper so I could grab a few more, although at $11 for a Litre, I suppose its not a bad deal.

nickss, Dec 13, 2005
Photo of numenor1
4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is unlike anything else I have ever had, incredibly unique. I feel the sum of its component parts, while recognizable, add up to something greater, creating new flavors. I poured my entire 1 liter bottle into my 1L german stein. It's a clear ruby, auburn brown with a creamy tan head. The foam tastes like candy. Smells sweet of cherries, some brown sugar and a faint bitter twinge. Taste upfront is sour/marashino cherries but minus the incredible sweetness. Then a solid bitterness emerges, preventing anything from becoming cloying. In the meantime flavor really depends on what you focus on. There's brown sugar, more cherry, some vanilla, there's some faint smokiness, and an incredible interplay thereof. The flavors really work well together. Bitterness keeps everything in check. The finish lingers for quite a while, very smooth, almost a buttery finish yet not diacetyl. I won't guess as to the spices used. Mouthfeel is medium, with relatively low carbonation, making it very chewy. Very drinkable. This is unlike any other beer i've ever had. I'm exercising restraint in not popping open my second liter.

numenor1, Dec 12, 2005
Photo of waldowin
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poures a crystal-clear dark ruby with a light tan head. The head is constantly in flux, and shifting and bubbling even as it slowly fades to a thin capper. Minimal lacing.

Smells of vanilla, oranges, and a hint of bourbon.

First taste was an immediate "Woah, what the heck?" This beer is vastly unlike any beer I've had before. Hints of coriander, and full flavors of vanilla, oak, and bourbon come through. Almost a madarin glaze finish to this beer. Very smooth and light, with a light crisp hopping at the tail end. Very sweet, and fairly malty, with not too many hops. For a malthead like me, this is great. Would go excellently with duck, or maybe goose, something rich and hearty to pair of the lightness and sweetness of this brew.

Mouthfeel is light, and smooth, if not terribly big. Leaves a nice slightly tart sweetness in the mouth.

This is a very smooth and light beer (if you haven't gathered that already), and extremely easy to drink. Wish I knew the ABV, as there's just no way to tell based on taste alone.

Many thanks to merlin48 for this very hard to find beer!

waldowin, Dec 09, 2005
Photo of AlexJ
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark amber red pour with a fluffy beige head that retains pretty well and streaks my tulip with lace.

Aroma is a comforting mix of chewy malts, molasses, vanilla, light spice, pine, and citrus hops.

Flavor starts off with chewy caramel and brown sugar, dark fruits, dark moist bread, and leads to strong notions of vanilla bean and subtle spice. As it warms the sweet vanilla flavor really stands out, yum. Pine and citrus hops provide a pleasantly bitter trailing finish. Well balanced and very tastey.

Body is medium, or just shy of. Smooth and very creamy texture. A very solid Winter Warmer and one i will be going back to.

AlexJ, Dec 09, 2005
Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 577 ratings.