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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

Not Rated.
Highland Cold Mountain Winter AleHighland Cold Mountain Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

309 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 309
Hads: 709
Avg: 4
pDev: 13.25%
Wants: 87
Gots: 117 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Highland Brewing visit their website
North Carolina, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.80% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: RBorsato on 11-25-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 309 | Hads: 709
Photo of HopDerek
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
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.

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Photo of chaz410
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Got this seasonal fav at Brawley's!
Pours a deep red amber body with a thin white head that deminishes quickly.
Smell is sweet with caramel backbone and loaded with mild spice notes, ranging from corriander to vanilla. Unlike previous years I've had, this year had a fairly tart hop essence.
Taste is sweet and tart with a nice blend of earthy hops and caramel malts. Finishes nicely with spice blended into the grassy and earthy hop character. When it warms a little, the sweet malts come out A WHOLE LOT! Let this thing get to around 55 degrees and enjoy. Definitely my favorite seasonal this year...again!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
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.

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Photo of merlin48
4.41/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

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Photo of bigbeerdrinka
4.4/5  rDev +10%
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.

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Photo of prototypic
4.39/5  rDev +9.7%
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!

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Photo of buschbeer
4.39/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

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Photo of TrappistJohnMD
4.39/5  rDev +9.7%
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!

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Photo of tmm313
4.39/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark brownish red color. Poured a super creamy 1 finger head. Awesome sticky lacing.
S- Raspberry, cranberry, caramel, and a touch of vanilla. Dank hops come out as it warms. Very inviting.
T- Sweetness. Got better and better as it warmed. Rich caramel, earthiness, raspberry, cranberry and vanilla. Cinnamon comes out as temp rises. Slight hop presence.
M- Medium body with medium carbonation. Creamy on the tongue.
O- I really enjoyed this beer. I took it to Xmas dinner to share with family, but drank 95% of it myself. I loved the uncommon flavor combination of the berries, vanilla, caramel, and cinnamon. Nicely balanced, as well.

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Photo of UncleFlip
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
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

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Photo of BamaBeerBuff
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a gorgeous copper-ruby color with a thick, creamy light brown head. Sheets of sticky lace are everywhere. Great appearance for a WW

S: Nose showcases some light cocoa, a touch of caramel, hints of vanilla and other delicate spices. A very subtle and enjoyable aroma.

T&M: Fantastic flavor. An initial rush of vanilla creme is met with a light nutmeg spice and a lovely toffee flavor. Light earthy hop flavor comes in on the finish to balance things out very nicely. This is just a wonderfully balanced winter beer. Body is creamy, yet thin enough to remain drinkable.

D: A great brew. Fantastic flavor, balance, and a moderate body for the style. I went through the bomber quickly and will most definitely seek out one of the swingtop bottles soon.

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Photo of kell50
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Oh Cold Mountain how I love thee. This is the pride of North Carolina Brewing and is something that us North Carolinians thirst for as the temperature drops. This review is from the 2011 version.

A: Reddish-copper color. Relatively clear with a nice looking white head and moderate lacing all the way down. A perky brew that just begs to be drunk.

S: Not a ton of aroma off the nose. Perhaps a few mild spices, i.e. vanilla, nutmeg, malts and a small undertone of hops.

T: Amazing. There's a great vanilla/cream soda thing going on here. Add in some great malts and a dash of hops and this is one fine beer! This particular version (2011) is a bit sweeter and less hoppier than the previous year. The balance of flavor is what makes this winter warmer an absolute winner.

M: Great taste. Very full-bodied with a nicely balanced malt/hop taste. As this beer slighty warms the vanilla and spice flavor becomes even more prominent. I've never had a beer quite like it.

O: This is an Outstanding beer. Highly drinkable and it's a must to split with friends. Do yourself a favor and seek it out.

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

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Photo of JayS2629
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer won at our blind tasting party as the beer of the night. Great, mild malty beer with hints of earthy hops. The smell is of light chocolate, toasted malts, and hints of roasted qualities. Faint whispers of vanilla and subtle notes of nutmeg and cinnamon. The taste is toasted malts, mild earthy tones, vanilla, chocolate and spices. Great, subtly complex and very drinkable. Awesome beer.

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Photo of avalon07
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to an imperial pint glass. Had an amber color and a slightly hazy consistency. There was a small amount of foamy head that quickly dissipated and good lacing.

S: A nice aroma of sweet malt, spices and a somewhat fruity quality.

T: Tasted of malt, cinnamon, some other spices, and mild fruit (at least that's what it seemed like to me). Nicely balanced, clean flavor.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a very dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: A very good winter warmer. Extremely drinkable.

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Photo of RedneckBeerz
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a Shiner Bohemian Black Lager pint and the brew is a nice clear amber/red color with a 1/2" lightish tan head. As this beer is consumed it produces ringed lacing on the pint.

The smell is heavy sweet malts and cinnamon.

The taste is sweetness from the malts and cinnamon with no bitterness or alcohol to speak of.

Medium mouth feel and lowish carbination help to produce some stickyness on the corners of the lips.

This is probably one of the sweeter beers that I have tryed to this point in my world beer tour, but it is my opinion that it is pretty spot on as far as style description goes.

I would highly recommend this beer to anyone wanting to find a great English Winter Warmer, but for me this style is a little to sweet to seek out. Perhaps with dessert this would be great, but as a cold weather sipper I'd look for another style.

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Photo of beerinator
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to KilgoreTrout27 for this beer. Been wanting to try it for a while now.

A: Amber mahagony, clean and refined with a few dozen lazy streams up bubbles rising to the surface. Head has a good consistency to it, sort of a sandy color.

S: Cherries, molasses, butterscotch and marshmallow.

T: A lot of vanilla and butterscotch up front. Not at the level that its cloying or overbearing, a nice level. Delicate cherries, strawberries and perhaps apricot add an underlying fruity flavor. As it warms the spices start to come out; sasparilla and cinnamon primarily. Very doughy as well, this is almost like drinking a liquid christmas cookie. A very faint hop bite can be found in the finish, just enough to add more depth. Aftertaste is long lingering cookie dough and of course...vanilla/butterscotch.

M: Medium body, full and silky mouthfeel.

D: This beer could have gone either way. With that much vanilla/butterscotch flavor it could easilly be cloying, artificial or overbearing. The fact that I killed an entire 22oz without the sugar weighing on me speaks volumes. One of the more under rated winter warmers on the market, a beer that doesn't get much publicity. Its very similar to the Winter Solstice from Anderson Valley but blows it out of the water. This was probably the second best domestic winter warmer I had this year.

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Photo of Gehrig
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at the outstanding Independent in Seminole Heights, FL.

A thick, pillowy finger of off-white foam atop a clear brown body with ruby trim. Good lacing and nice head duration make a good first impression. Fine aroma filled with raspberry, a whiff of milk chocolate, and lots of spice, primarily ginger and cinnamon.

The taste is flat-out delicious, very fruity and sweeter in taste than the nose indicates. There is raspberry but certainly cherry as well, a sweet start complemented with toasted malt, chocolate, and a bit of vanilla bean in the finish.

This is a unique warmer in that Cold Mountain differs from many warmers in its sweeter flavor base. Plus, the texture is not nearly as heavy as other warmers. It is mild, smooth, but with a complex flavor and delicious flavor base, an exceptional accessibility, and a creamy smooth mouthfeel that makes quaffing Cold Mountain incredibly easy.

Cold Mountain was quite a revelation, a great way to start an evening of beers with friends tonight. A distinct winter warmer, be prepared for a different, enjoyable take on this style. Very delicious.

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Photo of VncentLIFE
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I used a pilsner flute for this one. Pours a deep caramel with an eggshell head. decent carbonation.

Smells sweet, very sweet and full of buiscut malt. a touch of bittering hops. touches of cinnamon and vanilla.

Tastes like a cookie. Buiscut malt is really the main flavor here. And it dominates. Light body. As for spices, I get cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and somehow ginger. there is a bit of a dry bitterness that I associate with cranberries. All that sweetness is kept in check by the cranberries and a touch of bittering hops.

The buiscut malt leaves a powdery feeling while all the spices tingle the tongue. Well put together, and worth the search.

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Photo of Tuckieman
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours rich amber color with a nice tan colored head that subsides slowing with mild lacing remaining on the glass and slight clumping once head subsides. Aroma of malts, slight hops with vanilla and hints of inter spices of cloves and cinnamon. Mouth is what is hoped for and expected with a winter warmer. Initial hit on the palate of slight hops with a vanilla mid and a light malty finish. Always one of my favorites during the winter.

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Photo of wedge
4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep brownish red with a fluffy, soapy head. Smells exactly like frosting covered gingerbread cookies...wow. Sweet malty flavor nicely layered with ginger and other spices - mapley figs. Rich and complex. Solid mouthfeel with a fullish body and light carbonation. Pretty darn tasty winter ale...excellent on tap as well if you can find it.

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Photo of thaichile
4.32/5  rDev +8%
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.

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Photo of Mosstrooper
4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 1L bottle into 16oz Samuel Adams Perfect Pint glass.

Appearance: Pours dark amber in color with a medium-sized tan-ish head that dissipates slowly and leaves behind spotty lace.

Smell: Sweet caramel malt and some dark fruits alongside mild spices.

Taste: Begins slightly spicy, rounding to fruity flavors and finishing with a lot of caramel malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with lively carbonation and a sticky, warming finish.

Drinkability: A tasty, sweet and malty brew that is good for a winter day or could go well with a holiday feast. A beer I am glad to have tried, and would have again if it were available in my area.

Thanks to msnow34 for trading with me for this, and sorry about the delay with getting my end of the trade off to you!!

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Photo of sabrills70
4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 309 ratings.