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

660 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 660
Reviews: 306
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 13.37%
Wants: 82
Gots: 93 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 660 | Reviews: 306 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of tpd975
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one about this time last year and some how it made its way to the back of the beer fridge where it was forgotten. While doing a little rearranging today I found it and immediately popped it open.

It came via a great trader ByTor2112. Here goes the review.

A: Pours what appears to be a nice nutty brown hue. When put up to the light it is actually a beautiful dark clear ruby red. The head is nice and tall, fluffy, tan in color. The retention is wonderful with nice lace noted.

S: The aromas are not bold (though this one has sat a year) but what is there is rather nice. Nice sweet brown sugar with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. A light fruit juice aroma that I can't quite put my finger on.

T: Wow, this is one wonderful brew. What a mix of flavors. Vanilla right up front with cinnamon and a touch of ginger swirled in. Rich brown sugar and a splash of grenadine. A nice nutty malt carries thoroughout. What a wonderful holiday brew. If I had another bottle it would be opened on Christmas.

M: Medium in body, smooth and creamy with perfect carbonation.

D: Wish I had shared this one with the local tasting group, but it was a real treat to enjoy all to myself. One of the best holiday beers known to man.

Photo of scifan
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'ved been dying to try this beer ever since i read about, so excited that I found it today. Poured a deep amber into my favorite chalise. Had a nice head but dissapated quickly, left some nice lacing.
Lots of spices, mostly vanilla, also clove, cinnamon, and candi sugar. The vanilla comes through the most but it all blends togethere very nicely. This is a great beer for a cold winter night. Definitly all I expected can't wait have some more at lovely Christmas dinner with family and friends.

Photo of akorsak
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 1 L swingtop bottle courtesy of Deuane.

A: The ale is a dark amber, a full brown color of turbid cider or iced tea. Decent head on multiple tours.

S: The nose is not your normal mulled winter warmer, it has incredible depth and complexity. Vanilla bean is dominant, sitting atop cinnamon, powdered chocolate and faint tart cherries. Full without the bland spice complex many WWs have.

T: The ale is full of dark caramel and chocolate malts. Full nuttiness with some toffee drives the base of the ale. Vanilla bean flavors remain the center of attention but much more happens throughout the ale. A faint sour cherry flavor provides a warming undertone that mixes freely with some boozy warmth. Brown sugar, cinnamon, powdered cocoa all have their moment in the sun providing a nuanced flavor that is very pleasant to sip on.

M: Lots of spices make this a filling, delicious ale. With so much happening, you really need to take your time with it and allow each element to slowly emerge.

D: Boozy and strong, this is not a quaffing beer. Spend a few hours getting to know a bottle.

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

A fluffy three finger light tan head has nice retention leaving scattered lace as it fades. Body is an incredibly dark brown with ruby notes when held to light. Nose is big and malty with some rich spicey roasty notes. Candied malts awaken the taste buds on first sip. Like well made pie crust sprinkled with cinnamon. Nicely balanced and very smooth throughout the palate. A wonderful winter brew or year round pleaser. For that matter. Maybe a hint of cherry pie filling also. Very pleasant mouthfeel on the sweet side. I would love to have lots of these in my fridge.

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

Appearance: Reddish-brown, clear with a light tan head. The head recedes to a ring within just a minute or two. This beer has a great color to it, especially when held to the light - very pretty stuff.

Smell: Very sweet but with a lot of unique character. Notes of toasted marshmallow, hot chocolate and gingerbread. This beer epitomizes all things Winter, and it's wonderful.

Taste & mouthfeel: Sweet but not cloying, full-bodied but highly drinkable. The taste isn't far from the nose: graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, gingerbread cookie, cocoa and caramel wafer all come to mind. The finish is thankfully dry and mildly bitter, adding a much needed counterpoint to the initial sweetness.

Notes: A big thanks to Loki for this one - I think I just found my new favorite Winter Warmer.

Photo of babyhobbes
4.22/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks unclejedi for this beer and Beer Powerball!! Woo!

Pours a red color with a creamy off-white head. The creaminess of the head makes for a wonderful mouth-feel, too. Smells all malty and sugary. Tastes the sweet, with a weird chocolatey taste (seriously) aftertaste. It's good. Terribly drinkable as well.

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

22 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a clear dark amber with +1 fingers of light tan creamy head. Good retention that leaves a thick smattering of lace behind. The aroma is HOLY SWEETNESS! Rich accents of caramel and toffee with some light citic notes and hop bitterness behind it.

The taste is more of the same. Huge caramel and toffee sweetness with just enough hop bitterness backing it up to reign things in and keep the flavor from getting overly cloying. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a smooth feel yet keeps a fairly prickly carbonation.

Wow, this is just one tasty Winter Warmer. The sweetness works just right, never gets to be over the top, and keeps the drikibility right on target. Nice stuff!

Photo of HopDerek
4.43/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear ruby copper color with 1/2 inch of thick cream/tan colored head with good retention and lacing. Smells of brown sugar, caramel, cinnamon, dough, and a slight hop presence, much like a liquid churro. Big toffee taste mixes with cinnamon, clove, caramel, sugar, and spicy hops for an incredible flavor. Medium in body with good carbonation, smooth and spicy with lots of toffee and holiday spices. Quite a nice winter warmer, very easy to drink and flavorful, but not too sickening, a perfect blend of flavors.

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

Appearance: Dark brown beer with a finger of head. Head disappears leaving only a thin layer which sticks around for a food bit of the glass.

Smell: Sweet caramel, malt, and a spiciness that is led by cinammon.

Taste: Just like the nose. You get the big sweet malt and caramel flavors up front. The spiciness slowly moves in and provides a very nice balance of sweet and spicy. Very good beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium thickness with a nice amount of carbonation. The spices linger very strongly in the mouth. Very nice.

Drinkability: Big sweetness and nice spiciness. This is what I want a winter warmer to taste like. Though the style is very diverse and this is a very good example of the spiced variety. Highly recommended.

Photo of chilidog
3.63/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got thisone as a bonus gift from a trade, thank -you much.

Cellared a few months, I pulled out this kilt sporting winter warmer during a recent snow laden day.

It poured a dark brown with reddish hue's. The head was tan, thick and held to form a nice film. Lace was spotty.

The aroma was sweet malts and bakers spice.

The taste was a caramelized malt base with a good dose of winter spice including cinnamon. Even a hint of black pepper hides amongst an alcohol backdrop. Didn't get much warmth from this brew and at 22 oz. over a day of sipp'n, the spice kind-of imbeds the mouth.

Over-all a fare drinker on a winters day. Glad to have the chance and would purchase if I could.

Photo of JDV
2.33/5  rDev -42.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

bottle courtesy of DrBayern
Rich maroon brown with a fluffy beige head. Smell is sweet, malt, vanilla, cream and perhaps some butteriness or butterscotch. Kind of reminds me of scotch ales, which i'm not too keen on. Taste is smooth vanilla, cream and caramelly malt. A good beer, in all honesty, but something about the strong sweet vanilla like aroma that was a bit cloying or unpleasant to me.

Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.05/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bomber to to a snifter. The liquid is a dark rust with good carbonation. The head is nice a thick and fat 2 fingers of dark tan fluff that leaves some nice lace.

The smell is dark thick tosted caramel with hints of spices.

The taste follows. pretty nice. The spices are lightly done and only and accent. The dark caramel is great yet slightly sweeter that I like. Quite a nice brew and worth a try to be sure. I would be glad to have a couple of these each year.

The mouthfeel is about medium, with good carbonation.

The drink ability is very good. I real nice top notch example of this diverse style. Prosit MK

Photo of John1985
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Deep brown color with a small quarter-inch head;
S- Light spicy, molasses aroma;
T- Sweet malt burst reminiscent of spice cake with a mild hop tingle that provides just enough balance to offset the malt sweetness.
M & D-This was a very smooth and enjoyable ale. I'm not much for spices but this was very good.

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

Big thanks to limesmut for this one!

This pours a very nice caramel color with a 1/2 finger off-white head that does indeed leave some respectable lacing. The smell is mostly of caramel and molasses. A light hop presence becomes noticeable here too. Not all that strong in the smell, but an inviting smell nonetheless.

First taste finds me disappointed. But, I had just had a few ounces of Yulesmith. A few more sips and letting it warm up a bit more and I was much more intrigued by this brew. Malts remind me of a toned down scotch ale, with mellow caramel and molasses as a malt base. Some spicing (and hops as well I suppose), provide a welcome balance here. There is a touch of dates in the flavor as well. Altogether, decent complexity with a nice balance.

Mouthfeel is not all that heavy, but leaves with just enough coating to satisfy. Carbonation is medium low. Drinkability on this one is nice.

Recommended. A very enjoyable winter warmer - one of the better ones I've had I must say.

Photo of Lothore
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Pours a deep orangey brown hue with a thin, coffee head which adorns this beer all the way down.

S- Smell is faint sweet malts, hard to detect much else.

T- Taste is very sweet, malty with christmas spices and a hop backbone.

M- A bit thin and very carbonated.

D- Very easy to drink. Not what I think of when I think winter warmer but delicious none the less.

Photo of bort11
3.98/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received from BRoss242 as part of the BA Secret Santa '07.

Poured into a Corsendonk Christmas Ale glass (also from BRoss242). Tight tan colored head that stands a 1/4 inch. Recedes gradually and leaves an interesting web of lacing on the glass. Color is a dark chestnut brown color.

Smell has a strong malt presence with a smooth blend of spices. I smell nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. Taste also has a smooth spice with a mild hop bitterness in the back.

Mouthfeel is a little light for a winter warmer, but it does go down very smoothly. Even and mild carbonation and slightly sticky on the lips. The ABV also seems a little mild for a warmer, but it seems to enhance drinkability. It would be nice to session this.

Photo of yourefragile
3.23/5  rDev -20%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

On tap at Tyler's Taproom Carrboro, NC

A: Somewhat clear, dark amber with a basically white head that quickly dissipates to a splotchy film with little lacing.
S: A whole of spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread, not much in the way of hops. Moderately strong, not all together appealing however
T: Ok, wow, cinnamon and gingerbread are very very strong. This tastes like a cinnamon bar I get from a bakery at home, in fact that's all I can think of right now. Some hops or bitterness for balance would be nice, but instead it almost tastes like I'm eating that pastry. Not bad, certainly unique, never tasted this in a beer, but I'm slightly overwhelmed by it.
M: Moderate carbonation, very smooth and creamy, medium bodied. Goes does easy and strong gingerbread, cinnamon aftertaste
D: I enjoyed this first time around and tried a second pint, and well, had some issues finishing it. The spices are too sweet and overpowering drinking too much of this. I liked this, but drinkability was severely limited for me, after first pint, it was just too much of too sweet.

Photo of NCSUdo
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 1 L, flip top bottle

A: Pours a pretty dark clear amber under 2 fingers of slightly off white head. Some lace, OK retention.

S: Slight hint of vanilla and maybe the even smallest bit of anise. Tad bit of sweetness and some toasted maltiness up front as well. Upon first pour, there was a more hoppy character which has subsided. I seem to remember a slightly more in the aroma of last years version.

T: Spices up front, with vanilla being the most noticable. A little hard to discern between the rest, but there is some clove and even a slight pumpkin taste as well. Hints of alcohol in the finish that is ultimately on the sweet side. Some hoppy hints there as well.

M/D: Medium bodied, mostly creamy but also a little slick, carbonation is spot on and alcohol is apparent on a good way. Drinkability is fine on this one as it is smooth and relatively easy drinking. Excellent winter warmer.

Photo of davidt
3.33/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

1 liter flip-top bottle. Bottle opens with a "pop" and a wisp of carbonated air. Pours dark reddish-amber. Very thick, pillowy beige head leaves lots of lacing on the glass. Immediate aroma is cinnamon. As it warms, nutmeg, caramel notes appear. Taste matches with cinnamon being the strongest, some nutmeg, caramel, vanilla flavors too. This needs to be at room temperature to loosen the flavors. Not a bad beer, but for a Winter beer still very similar to so many Fall pumpkin beers.

Photo of shivtim
4.53/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Highland is an under-appreciated brewery. This is easily one of my favorite Christmas/seasonal ales. Poured out of the big flip-top bottle into a pint glass. It's translucent dark amber/copper, with a slight head. Nose is delicious biscuity malts and caramel with gingerbread and vanilla icing. Very good combination of aromas! Taste is nutty, with cinnamon, like those windmill cookies. Malts linger for a while. Mouthfeel is quite good, and drinkability is high, especially when compared to many winter warmers that have cloying alcohol or overwhelming cloves and nutmeg. Another great brew from Highland!

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

The clear mahogany liquid in the glass is topped with a half finger of off white to tan, tightly formed bubbles that lace the glass nicely as you slowly drain the glass.

Aromas are sweet malts and spices...lots of spices...plus sweet caramels and a hint of milk chocolate.

Flavor is probably the most complex of any winter warmer I've ever tried due to the mixture of spices in this brew. I honestly can't identify them except to say I sense cinnamon, clove, orange, maybe even pumpkin, as well as caramel and bitter milk chocolate. Hops at the end really change the impression of a sweet winter warmer into something else.

Nice alcohol warmth as you finish your swallows.
Very interesting and very nice.

Photo of Vancer
4.33/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From brentk56 in a nice trade – thanks man!

Let me just start off and say – what a freakin’ superb winter ale! THIS is what a warmer should be, geez what a tasty treat!

Started off with a great pour – clear and beautiful mahogany brown, ivory head that just coats the ol’ Cordendonk tulip.

Almost sneezed from all the winter spices in the aroma. But the taste is where this one leaves others behind. It’s all there; chocolate, vanilla, coffee, nutmeg with a massive spicy malt backbone driving the whole load.

Drinks like a fine cognac, glad I have a 1L hammer bottle of this great brew.

Photo of mortarit
2.68/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I can't believe as much of Highland brews I have tried and consumed that I don't have any reviews for any of them.

2007

Up front I was not impressed because I have had better and knowing that it changes from year to year I won't stop tasting their winter warmer.

Why the change in bottles, the previous ones had the flip top. Now I got one in the 22 oz. bomber.

The major downfall to this year brew that the hops were missing or not producing the taste that so desire.

I will have to get another one to see if I get the same response to finished this review. I can't believe of the disappointment after waiting a year for it.

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

Clear, dark brown with very little head and nearly no lacing.

Heavy aroma of fig and raisin and a little sharp alcohol.

This is one of those beers that tastes much different than it smells. There's a roast, crisp chocolate taste to this beer that's unlike anything I've ever tasted. There's a bit of dark fruit and bitter, but it hits you at the end and plays only a small role.

Pretty high carbonation which lends to the crisp flavor. A refreshing winter warmer?

At first I though this would be a pretty low to average beer judging by the look and smell of it. The flavor is out of this world, though. I recommend it.

Photo of CWiggins
3.43/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Highland's version of the Winter Warmer seems to have peaked two years ago. Since then, the last two batches have fallen a little short. Granted, the recipe and style seems to vary, so it can't be expected to be the same, but the comparisons are ever-present to the serious taster. Having said that, it seems that everyone in North Carolina eagerly anticipates the arrival of Cold Mountain, and I'm no exception. I picked up the first bottle I laid eyes on this season, and tonight it has been opened and consumed.

It certainly looks like a winter warmer, with its dark amber hue and yellow, shining highlights. A one-finger head formed on the surface, but soon gave way to a thin lacing of eggshell-white lacing. Aromas of winter spices dominate the nose; I don't really get a large malt or hop presence here. The flavor has a sweet, floral front, quickly followed by a malty, spiced middle, and ends with a mildly hoppy finish, accented by a nutty, brown ale-like character. There's something quite appealing about this version. The carbonation is a little much for my taste, but that's very personal.

I have a growler of last year's Cold Mountain waiting to be sampled. Look for a review of that precious volume to note how well that vintage aged!

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 660 ratings.