Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing
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Ratings: 552 | Reviews: 297 | Display Reviews Only:
4.35/5 rDev +8.2%
Pours a pretty medium dark amber with a 1 finger beige head and very good lace. Nice smells are there although they are faint. Brown sugar, cinnamon, raisin. This beer is like nothing I have ever had before. I get a big vanilla flavor mixed with some brown sugar, allspice, and raisin. Leaves a unusual, but good, bitterness on the tounge. Alcohol is barely noticeable. Smooth and complex. Nicely balanced. Very unique. Get some of this if you get a chance.
12-04-2005 02:31:09 | More by sabrills70
4.22/5 rDev +5%
Pours an beautiful mahogany brown with some ruby tints around the edges and a thick, creamy tan head that retains well. The aroma is just as impressive, with big chocolate notes, some incredible spice character (cinammon, nutmeg, clove, allspice), along with some gingerbread, pumpkin, sweet potato, brown sugar and some light, floral hops. The flavor is slightly more subdued than the aroma but is still impressive: some gingerbread, sweet potato, brown sugar, chocolate, pumpkernickel bread, spices (cinammon, nutmeg, clove, allspice) and some light floral hops. The mouthfeel is creamy with a medium body, and drinkability is good. An excellent beer from Highland, definately lives up to the hype...im glad i could pick some up before its gone this year.
12-02-2005 00:20:55 | More by silver0rlead
4.45/5 rDev +10.7%
appearance: The pour into my snifter creates a low, off white head that quickly recedes to only a collar around the glass. The color of the beer is a very nice reddish mahogany.
smell: considerable carob aroma, light holiday (pie) spice, hops very hard to find but they're there. Reminds me almost perfectly of my grandma's sweet potato casserole (toasted marshmallows, brown sugar, spice, butter, sweet potato). *Melted marshmallows, candied orange, crystallized ginger, vanilla, toffee.
mouthfeel: The carbonation is maybe slightly less than medium, as is the body.
taste: The same carob I found on the nose is big here. Again I am reminded of sweet potato casserole. The spice is less noticeable on the tongue. Plenty of hops provide a good balance, becoming most evident after the initial flavor rush. *Graham cracker, sassafrass.
drinkability: very easy drinking for such a flavorful beer.
This is my first ever Higland Cold Mountain Winter Ale. A very intricate and complex beer. *I revisited this beer after a couple months to attempt to isolate some more of its nuances.
2006 Release: I was going to make another review for this year's, but it seems pretty simlar to last year. Same rich brown color, and nice retention of the slight head. Buttery cookie dough, spicy bread, and vanilla notes. Light, floral hops. Cinnamon-sugar toast. Seems to be a higher hop profile than last year, but it could just be fresher. At present, the hops block out a little of the aroma and flavor.
2011: Fairly consistent with years past. A Christmas classic for the home state. I will add that, now that it's described on the bottle, there's an evident hazelnut aroma. Picked up a bomber at Bottle Revolution in Raleigh. Gonna let the old scores stand.
11-29-2005 07:19:24 | More by blackie
4.43/5 rDev +10.2%
2005 edition, just extracted from a fresh case. One liter swingtop bottle crowned with clear plastic shrinkwrap. Served slightly chilled into a St Bernardus goblet.
Pours a clear, dark mahogany body that exhibits a radiant ruby clarity when held to light. Small khaki head quickly falls into a lasting collar and cap. Sporadic sheet lacing is satiny in appearance. The radiant ruby body boasts an exceptional and regal appearance.
Aroma is more subdued than the 2004 version, but is quite intriguing. Toffee, red McIntosh apples, vanilla, and a mysterious floral note comprise the bouquet. My ladyfriend has an excellent sense of smell, and says the floral note is roses. It seems like heather to me. Very lightly spiced compared to last year's version, and there are some vague spicy notes that I can't yet identify.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Carbonation is moderated, but still manages to produce a nice tingly sensation.
Taste is exceptional, yet enigmatic and challenging in its superb complexity. Caramel, buttery toffee, fruity red apple, and a floral note that adds a mystery hop bitterness that provides an ideal balance. Spiciness is nicely restrained, with hints of vanilla and allspice. No hint of alcohol, but I suspect that they've cranked this one up a notch, to 6.5 to 7% abv. Lots of flavors and ingredients at work here, mingling together in an exquisite balance. Spices are a minor player compared to the 2004 version. Very tasty, very unique, and stunning in its wonderful drinkability.
The 2005 Cold Mountain is complex and enigmatic. lots of things going on here that are beyond my limited comprehension, but this is an exceptional experience. Very unique, very tasty, and an absolute pleasue to drink. I spent an hour with this liter, and enjoyed every sip. Very smooth and goes down way too easy. So tasty, I was tempted to crack open another liter. Would love to have a keg of this for a Christmas party somewhere.
11-18-2005 01:01:16 | More by merlin48
4/5 rDev -0.5%
After its release from the 1 liter swing top brown bottle, it resides in the glass a slightly hazy deep amber to copper color with a moderate in size frothy light tan head that erodes rather quickly leaving a satisfactory sheet of lace to cover the glass. Nose is sweet malt with hints of vanilla, nut-like, caramel corn also comes to mind, and fresh and appetizing, start is somewhat sweet with a decent grain presence and the top middling in its feel to the palate. Finish is benignly acidic with a delightful hop spiciness and quite dry aftertaste, a quite drinkable beer that I savored over a couple of days
08-14-2005 19:34:40 | More by Gusler
4.65/5 rDev +15.7%
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.
08-05-2005 04:10:11 | More by mentor
4.22/5 rDev +5%
Hmmm, it's hot-as-heck in July, 90+ all week long..great time to break open a winter warmer, right? Right!
22-ounce bomber poured into 16-ounce goblet, a deep brown hue, nearly plum in places, with slim cocoa/cola-toned head.
Aroma: dark fruits, and nuts, sweetness, molasse and maple syrup, sugar beets, ripe and spicy...very interesting, and quite unique.
Taste: yum, ...same flavors noted in the nose reappear on the tongue. Full-bodied, and incredibly smooth, while delivering copious amounts of sweet, delicioius flavors. A rich and relaxing brew, sweet candyish flavors, a hint of toffee, a wiggle of caramel. Ends a bit dryly, much appreciated.
Yum, I say again, tas-tee!
What could be better for a mid-summer morning?
07-17-2005 10:23:07 | More by feloniousmonk
4.58/5 rDev +13.9%
Appearance: Clear, bright red color with a lacy head.
Smell: Very interesting and unique aroma on this beer. Strong scents of berries (strawberries maybe?) and a bit of a citrus not as well. It has a very enticing and good smell.
Taste: Wow. Cherry with a light maltiness topped with a spices, strawberry, brown sugar, and cinnamon. There is a nice balance of pine/spruce type flavor in there as well. The beer finishes with some sweetness and tanginess. It is a treat in the mouth.
Mouthfeel: Very smooth and clean in the palate. The flavors blend so well and balance on the palate that one cannot help but enjoy this fantastic brew.
Drinkability: I was a bit sad that I had only one bottle of this to drink. Since finishing this bottle I keep wishing I had more. This is a great beer to drink with dinner. I paired it with some BBQ chicken, rice pilaf, and green salad and this beer complimented it all very well. I could drink this beer all day if I could get my hands on more of it.
03-08-2005 18:09:40 | More by BrewMaster
3.83/5 rDev -4.7%
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.
01-28-2005 03:11:38 | More by CRJMellor
4.43/5 rDev +10.2%
First and foremost this is one killer looking bottle if I do say so myself. Pours a deep mahogany color with slight ruby hues and a nice head that leaves a slight lace. Mixes of toffees, caramels, hints of roasted malts, and bits of earthy spices make up the aromas to this brew. There are also some toasted notes and what reminds me of walnuts of chestnuts. Flavors are a heavy dosage of malts throughout with a really powering kick of toffees and toasted malts that just blend together ever so nicely. There are hints of caramels in the mix (in almost a scotch ale sort of flavor), along with some nutty flavors are just a slight hint of spices. The finish is very malty but not overly sweet with hints of vanilla and bits of toffee. Overall this brew was highly drinkable and had a great creamy mouthfeel to it. Unfortunately for me this was my only bottle of this fantastic brew, but at least I get to quaff it all by myself. Get this beer if you can.
01-19-2005 22:01:12 | More by bigbeerdrinka
4.08/5 rDev +1.5%
1L bottle from Secret Santa ninjaworm. Wax sealed swing-top. Cool.
Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" light tan head above a deep copper brew. Head shrinks pretty quickly, but still eaves a coating of uneven bubbles, and lacing is average. Aroma is sweetly of malts, coupled with a seemingly peat component. Not smoky, more of an earthy contribution there, maybe their yeast strain, never had anything from Highland before. Taste is a combination of sweet maltiness, earthy tones, and possibly a vanilla bean or two. Certainly a lot going on here, but it all comes together nicely. Mouthfeel is good, and drinkability is excellent. Nice offering here, with a cool package and a pleasing product.
01-15-2005 01:04:06 | More by ppoitras
4.15/5 rDev +3.2%
Pours a dark mahogany color with a nice tan head that dissapears and leaves spotty lace. The aroma is big on malt caramel sugary coated fruits plums, raisins and figs with a touch of spice. Taste is big on flavor, molasses like, nice and sweet big on malt with fruit entering in the middle and finishing with light spice and candy also some vanilla flavors lingering. Mouthfeel while not full feels big lots of sugary malt flowing over the taste buds imparting sweetness. Drinkability is good glad it comes in liter bottles gives you plenty to enjoy, hopefully next year it will be stronger with the 6% cap gone. A nice little winter warmer can see why they sell so fast, glad I was able to find me a couple.
12-10-2004 04:29:02 | More by mntlover
4.25/5 rDev +5.7%
Winter 04/05 Vintage, 22oz bottle
Pours a deep, brilliant ruby red with some brown highlights. Small, off-white head lingers around the rim. Rich, sweet malty aroma with accents of raisins and brown sugar. The first sip made me smile. A lot. Sweet, subtle malt character up front mellows into deeper, roasted malt towards the back of the mouth. Lingering notes of raisin, brown sugar, and a faint bit of toffee. Body is substantial but not too thick or syrupy, yielding to a pleasant, smooth foam. Very drinkable for a winter warmer, also. Damn, this may be the best beer I've had that was brewed in NC. As an aside, this was an almost perfect complement to the slice of apple-pecan-walnut pie I had for dessert.
12-03-2004 02:14:47 | More by ElGordo
4/5 rDev -0.5%
Pours a medium ruddy brown with a nicley proportioned, inch high, cream coloreed head. Smells weakly citrus and raisin like.Starts off slightly caustic when cold but changes over to a more well rounded fruity malt profile. Brown sugar, cinnamon, raisin, and cough syrup come to mind. Finishes sweetly with an underlying astringency that gives it some backbone. Moderate mouthfeel. A very nice winter brew. Hope I can get an 05 version to sample.
Thanks to GCBrewingCo for the sample.
11-21-2004 00:10:03 | More by yankeeheel
4.15/5 rDev +3.2%
Winter 2003-2004 Release, Sampled August 2004.
Pours a deep amber-ruby color with an amber-tan head. Thick aromas of syrupy malt waft from my glass, I also get notes of caramelized oranges and cherries (which are strong enough that there might actually be some cherry additions to this beer). The taste is dry up front, but then moves to a weird, fruity note; cough syrup perhaps. This also has some interesting subdued dark malt character to it, a slightly acidic finish, as well as some candied cherry notes. The cherry is not nearly as strong in the taste as in the aroma. Up front this beer could just about pass for a malty Scottish ale. It is fairly light and interesting enough as a quaffing brew (good thing that I have a 1 liter bottle of this to enjoy).
09-04-2004 18:57:58 | More by Gueuzedude
4.43/5 rDev +10.2%
Served in the wax-sealed 1L swingtop jug, into a pint glass. The color is tawny brown, with a wisp of white head. The smell is a strong raisiny/plum sweetness. The taste is a strong caramel/toffee flavor, with a bit of plum in the flavor and just the lightest touch of hops. Mouthfeel is average. As for drinkability, could have a few.
Thanks to AKSmokedPorter and BIF 8.0 for this bottle. I admit I started by giving this one a 3.8, but as it warmed...wow, so many tastes came out that I just had to adjust my scores. I'm surprised that a sub-6% beer can be this complex, but somehow it manages. Quite good, and this is one I'd likely have again!
07-20-2004 03:33:51 | More by beergeek279
4.15/5 rDev +3.2%
Appearance This was brownish-orange in color with a full, beautiful head.
Smell The deep malts and caramel came out huge at the nose along with some monster sugars. I could also pick up a tinge of alcohol as well. Everything came together nicely at the nose.
Taste The big, chewy caramel malts dominated this Herbed/Spiced beer. It seemed more like a Brown Ale, but it was tasty nonetheless.
Mouthfeel This was medium-bodied and well-rounded in the mouth. The balance was this ales strong point, IMHO.
Drinkability This was very complex yet amazingly smooth. It was a pleasure to drink.
05-07-2004 02:24:41 | More by RoyalT
4.6/5 rDev +14.4%
1 Liter wax-sealed bottle courtesy of the great NC BA Loki.
Appearance: Popping the top resulted in a satisfying "Pfft" of gas out of the bottle and this lovely poured a beautiful DEEP and clear ruby red with a massive, billowing tan-colored head that just refuses to yield, die down, or otherwise behave itself. Big splotches of lace line my oversized glass.
Smell: Dominating the aromas are the great combination of wintry spice and caramel sweetness. There's a "toasted cinnamon" kick to this that was awesome. Some other dark fruit aromas as well. "Busy"? Hell yeah.
Taste: Nothing disappoints here. Very well-balanced with an initial sweetness tossed with spice that quickly becomes tempered by a hoppy bitterness. At the end, a toasty malt shows up to please the palate. Only a very slight alcohol flavor noted right at the very end. Superbly balanced.
Mouthfeel and Drinkability: Definitely a big, creamy, coat-your-palate beer we have here! Thick, chewy in character. Drinkability is definitely a 5.0. So very well-balanced, flavorful, and easy to drink. I'm very, VERY glad to have finally been able to try this gem from North Carolina. If, in a few years, the ABV limit is raised, this would be a candidate for pumping up the ABV and see what happens. Seek this one out, gang. You'll be glad you did.
03-12-2004 03:04:20 | More by OldFrothingSlosh
4.38/5 rDev +9%
Appearance: Nice reddish brown color. Off white tan head with awesome head retention. Nice solid bubbles.
Aroma: Roasted nut and cherry present in the aroma. Ammaretto/almond noted in the nose. Solid sweetness, very little in the way of hop noted.
Taste: Initial taste is solid sweetness. Sweet cherry melds with a bit of nuttiness. Ammaretto present in the taste as well as aroma. Solid mouthfeel. Very little sourness or bitterness present here.
Notes: This beer is begging for North Carolina's abv laws to change. I think it's a good beer now, but the depth in both the aroma and taste is impressive for a beer under 6%. One of Highlands strongest offerings.
02-16-2004 16:49:14 | More by beerinator
4.85/5 rDev +20.6%
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!
02-15-2004 05:54:47 | More by JISurfer
4.1/5 rDev +2%
2003 bottling in a 1 liter swingtop bottle.
Tan head sits atop this mahogany brew.
Pleasing aroma of lightly roasty, caramel malt; floral, citrusy hops; and spice.
Taste shows a lot going on in this beer. Lightly roasty, caramel malt. Toffee, brown sugar and spice which likely includes cinnamon. Solid floral, fruity hop balance although the malt wins out in this one.
Good mouthfeel, although you get the feeling the body could be much more if not for NC's 6%ABV limit.
A tastey winter treat. Worth seeking out.
A huge thank you to AKSmokedPorter for tracking this one down!
02-08-2004 02:26:50 | More by PhantomVodoo
4.72/5 rDev +17.4%
The beer pours a crystal clear ruby amber. The head is tan, tall, and lasting to lace the glass.
The aroma is malty and bready. Similar to a scotch ale. Some slight gingerbread spices are present in the aroma. Also a toasty aroma and caramel. A very complex aroma to say the least with fruitiness, spices and malt.
The flavor is complex with malt sweetness, hop bitterness, spices and a multitude of hard to distinguish flavors in the background. Definite fruitiness, raisins or other dark fruits.
The finish is dry with muted spices and slight bitterness. The body is medium to medium full.
A very complex beer with quite a bit going on.
1 liter wax coated flip top bottle - 2003 vintage.
(Thanks to Loki for letting us know where to get the beer and Beerinator for picking it up!)
01-31-2004 00:43:31 | More by GCBrewingCo
4.93/5 rDev +22.6%
Sampled from the 1L wax-sealed fliptop bottle.
Appearance: Dark, ruby brown with a huge beige head that fades to a thin, bubbly covering. Fantastic lacing that leaves behind outlines of winter mountain range.
Smell: Big, roasted candied malts, cinnamon, caramel, and candied sugars. Hints of red fruit and cotton candy. Inticing and surprise. So magical combination of belgian candy, caramelized malt, wild rasberries, and fresh cotton candy with a solid cinnamon and spice backbone.
Taste: Roasted malt, caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg, belgian candied sugar, soft red fruit, and cotton candy. This is like being in a fair in the Belgian mountain forest in the middle of winter. Wonderful combination of flavor that is not to sweet, but keeps the tongue dancing and brings all of your senses alive.
Mouthfeel: Smooth, crisp, clean, perfectly balanced sweetness with a slight spicy hop finish to cleanse the palate.
Drinkability: Superb. The best seasonal I've had all year, perhaps ever! There is a reason it comes in 1L bottles, because once you taste it you want much more and you don't want to share! Fantastic.
12-20-2003 19:49:06 | More by Loki
4.5/5 rDev +11.9%
1 Liter Bottle
Clear, dark amber brew with light tan head.
Scents of sweet malt and spices.
Medium, smooth body with light carbonation.
Initially, spicy up front with just enough of a crisp hopto make it clean. Not much sweet with the spice, and the malt is definately hidden. Has a long spicy finish.
Definately on of my favorite winter brews, but could use a boost in alcohol and malt (they do go hand in hand!)
Needs a bit of a sweet burn in the finish to make it perfect.
11-29-2003 00:22:21 | More by homersimpson
3.48/5 rDev -13.4%
In my experience, this beer is only available in 32oz (1L?) swing top bottles during the winter months. Fairly well spiced, this beer is reminiscent of pumpkin pie both in smell and taste. Definately an enjoyable beer, but I feel it could be made more so by increasing the quantity of malts and holding the spice level the same. However, this wouldn't work in NC because this beer is already close to the 6% alcohol level the state has set as a limit for all BEER. Which is ridiculous.
08-21-2003 00:52:32 | More by cerevisiaephilus
Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 552 ratings.