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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
88
very good

563 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 563
Reviews: 297
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 13.18%
Wants: 71
Gots: 50 | 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: 563 | Reviews: 297 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of LouDogg114
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

LouDogg114, Jan 26, 2013
Photo of fantasyroach
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

fantasyroach, Jan 04, 2012
Photo of rderedin
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

rderedin, Sep 18, 2014
Photo of TeeJay
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

TeeJay, Mar 09, 2014
Photo of imperialking
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

imperialking, Jan 08, 2012
Photo of dgallina
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
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 malthead
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
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 SPLITGRIN
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
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.

SPLITGRIN, Jul 28, 2008
Photo of largadeer
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
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.

largadeer, Jun 07, 2008
Photo of ncbeermonger
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
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

ncbeermonger, Dec 15, 2008
Photo of Treyliff
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A- pours dark copper color with a two-finger light creamy head, good retention after pour, a bit of lace

S- dried cranberry, vanilla bean, hazelnut, sweet raspberry fruit, sweet caramel malt. Aromas are pronounced and inviting, very nice

T- so many flavors going on; vanilla, berries, hazelnut, dried cranberry with a raspberry tartness, the finish is balanced by sweet caramel malt. By far one of the most complex winter Warner's I've had.

M- medium body, low carbonation, creamy mouthfeel, velvety smooth finish

O- most Winter Warmers seem to taste the same for the most part, but this one sets itself apart from all of the other typical flavors of the style. The flavors are more complex and are reminiscent of the season. I'd gladly purchase this again and again.

Treyliff, May 07, 2013
Photo of blackie
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 Release

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.

blackie, Nov 29, 2005
Photo of TheEclecticGent
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
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 numenor1
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
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 Anavrin
4.44/5  rDev +10.4%

Anavrin, Oct 05, 2014
Photo of merlin48
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

merlin48, Nov 18, 2005
Photo of dirtylou
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
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 UncleFlip
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
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 beergeek279
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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!

beergeek279, Jul 20, 2004
Photo of HopDerek
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

HopDerek, Apr 12, 2008
Photo of bigbeerdrinka
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

bigbeerdrinka, Jan 19, 2005
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
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 prototypic
4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to my dood, kkipple, for this one. You rock, Dan!

Cold Mountain Winter Ale pours a crimson stained copper color. It's very clear, and has a strong garnet ting when held to light. Really nice color. The head is very modest. It's cream colored and doesn't even rise to a finger in depth. It dissipates very quickly, and leaves light lacing behind. Not bad. The color carries it.

The nose is extremely impressive. It's chock full of caramel and cocoa-esque chocolate malts. It's a little on the sweet side, but not by much. There are definitely some spices in the mix. I'm getting a little cinnamon, vanilla, and ginger. But, the spices are complementary and never take center stage. The thunderous malt base captures the spotlight. Hops are noticeable. They smell mostly floral. Alcohol is never much of a factor. Excellent.

I didn't expect the flavor to live up to the nose, but it does. The strong malty flavors strike first and never relent. Cocoa-esque chocolate blends perfectly with the mild caramel/toffee notes. Spice flavors of ginger, light nutmeg, and cinnamon are subtle, but flavorful. Vanilla is stronger in flavor and works like a charm. Hops are vibrant and add just enough bitterness to really take it up a notch. The hop flavor is mostly floral. Alcohol is light and not all that noticeable. Finishes malty, a little bitter, and dry.

Cold Mountain Winter Ale has a medium body that's nice and smooth. Carbonation is light and doesn't hurt the feel at all. Drinkability is very high. This is a surprisingly unique and tasty holiday seasonal. It doesn't seem too strong. Each sip invites another. Too bad I've only got the single bomber.

I'm really impressed with Highland Brewing. This is the second beer I've tried from them, and each has been really good. I can't say that this is necessarily better than their Black Mocha Stout, but they're very comparable in terms of quality. I can't offer much constructive criticism here. This is good stuff that perhaps shouldn't be tinkered with much. Maybe the look would benefit from a nicer head. Yeah, that's about it. Excellent stuff. Thanks a ton, Dan!

prototypic, Jan 08, 2011
Photo of buschbeer
4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle
Served in a perfect pint

A - It is copper colored with amber highlights. I think it had an inch of tan head. It was gone so quick that I missed it.

S - I was surprised to get a noseful of chocolate and caramel. It smells like a candy bar.

T - The taste matches the smell with intensity and ingredients.

M - Medium

O - This beer tasted nothing like I expected. I expected the typical nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, etc. It is loaded with intense chocolate and caramel. I'm surprised how flavorful this beer is considering it's a winter warmer and this is June. I would drink the shit out of this each winter if I were in the distribution area.

buschbeer, Jun 16, 2012
Photo of TrappistJohnMD
4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours amber color with thin off-white head that dissipates quickly. No lacing along sides of Firestone Walker snifter.

Smell is chocolate, marshmellow, cranberries, and caramel. Very nice!

Taste is sweet chocolate, malt, and marshmellow. Very mild bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Very smooth and drinkable.

Overall this is awesome! I could drink this all day long!

TrappistJohnMD, Dec 29, 2012
Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
88 out of 100 based on 563 ratings.