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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.
BA SCORE
89
very good

308 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 308
Hads: 700
rAvg: 4
pDev: 12.25%
Wants: 85
Gots: 112 | 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:
Beer added by: RBorsato on 11-25-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 308 | Hads: 700
Photo of Paincane
4.31/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Copper amber body with a pretty and creamy tan head. Excellent head retention and lacing.
S: Complex nose including spices and malt aromas. Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice notes.
T: Molasses, cinnamon, sweet malt & nutmeg flavors.
M: Smooth, creamy and warming.
O: Great winter warmer. (291 characters)

Photo of russpowell
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big props to Ddarden for this one, I really wanted to try this when I went back to NC last summer, but alas much like the winter snow, it was long gone.

Pours caramel/auburn with 4+ fingers of pillowy sand-colored head. Above average lacing & head retention

S: Slight toffee & caramel notes& a little vanilla as this warms

T: Toffee & hints of grain & vanilla upfront. Caramel, toasted malt & huge breadyness show up as this warms along with a little herbal hop bite. Brown sugar, choclate & more vanilla show up in the warming/bready finish

MF: Medium bodied & very smooth & low/low carbonation

Drinks so easy, a really pleasant winter warmer. One I think I could session on. I'll buy this if I ever see it again! (729 characters)

Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this via trade! Seems this was the 05 version which differs from the 06. Many people seem to be on either side as to which year is better. My take - this is one of the more intriguing winter warmers I've had in recent memory. I am very happy to have gotten 2 so I can enjoy the other on another evening.

A - Rich red color, frothy white head takes a while to dissipate.
S- A combination of toffee, vanilla and tea. Malty but with a dry character.
T - Similar to the aroma but so much more complex. This one toys with your taste buds!
M - Medium bodied, nicely carbonated and dry in the finish.
D - Easy drinking, tasty drinking, Yes I'll have another. A winter brew that even at 22oz has you considering a second bottle. (735 characters)

Photo of cvstrickland
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 22-ounce bomber bottle poured into a small tulip glass yields a bell-clear red-bronze body with a thin, creamy cap of pale ecru foam atop. The head retains at a thin collar that leaves freckles of lacing scattered about the glass.

The smell is spicy and malty sweet with toasted notes of medium-dark malts, molasses-drizzled equine sweet feed, crystallized brown sugar, wet cocoa, and maple syrup.

The taste is quite sweet and pretty spicy with a substantial, mellow, toffee-malty backbone. Fragrant mild curry spice and a crisp, lightly alkaline hop bitterness keep rich malty notes of thin caramel, buttery toffee, and fluffy milk chocolate in hand, and a floral spiciness becomes increasingly aromatic and flavorful as the drink warms. A note of sweetened mocha appears late in the encounter, lending a succulent porter-like quality to the drink.

Highland's Cold Mountain Winter Ale is medium-bodied with tingly carbonation, smoothness to spare, and superb drinkability. A nice brew I'd enjoy any time of year. (1,018 characters)

Photo of Deuane
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Thirsty Monk South.

A-Bright brownish copper with a medium tan head. Head reduces to a thin cap and leaves nice thick, rope like lacing

S-Wafting notes of chocolate, with accenting vanilla, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. All of this melds very nicely and does not overwhelm.

T-Semi-sweet caramel along with some drying cocoa/chocolate malts up front. A potpourri blend backing with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, cedar and orange making this one feel like a Christmas cookie in a glass!

M-Medium bodied and fairly rich without being sickly sweet or too spicy, Long lingering flavour profile.

D-One of my most favorite spiced winter brews. A near perfect combination of malt and spice that makes this one SO easy to drink! (737 characters)

Photo of Vancer
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
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. (597 characters)

Photo of Bryson
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Here we go again! Another year with the ever changing Cold Mountain Winter Ale =)

A: Rusty red tint with a thin cream colored head.

S: Malty vanilla with other various spices. The vanilla definitely stands out on the nose to me.

T: This is where this beer shines! After sipping, there is a rush of Vanilla, Cream, Soda, and Malt. These flavors then give way to a nice, slightly hoppy, and bitter finish. I do recommend serving this beer at room temp or maybe a little cooler to get the full flavor experience!

M: Medium-Low carbonation...perfect! I can't imagine drinking this beer if it were more carbonated than it is.

O: What a treat this beer is every year! It has become a tradition for me to crack a 12oz bottle of this every day after work for the couple of months that it's around..I find myself craving it while I'm at work. What more can you say? This is one of the best Winter beers out there!

I will say that this year has a bit more of a hop profile than I remember in the previous years. Not a terrible thing but I definitely do think I prefer last years vintage. (1,087 characters)

Photo of CHADMC3
4.29/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a walnut brown body with a semi-foamy, semi-creamy, deep tan head packed with dense bubbles of carbonation giving way to a pleasant sticky lacing to match.

This is a very unique balance of hop bitterness and sweet caramel malt in the aroma. Almost a candy like quality to the aroma as well as dark fruits, perhaps raisins, and even a little cream or vanilla. As the beer warms the spice becomes more apparent to the nose.

The palate is equally interesting, but very different than what the aroma suggested. Much more sweet malt, caramel, molasses, vanilla, possibly cocoa and sweet nuts, and a hint of spices, all which hide the faint hop bitterness.

Medium to full in body, creamy, just a bit of spice, and medium carbonation. This is a hearty winter brew.

Thanks to my sister for getting this to me as a present from NC, this was a great beer. I'm enjoying it a little late in the season, but I will be requesting this again in the future. One of the better examples of the style I have had in a while. (1,015 characters)

Photo of silver0rlead
4.27/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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. (757 characters)

Photo of jbone78
4.27/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours redish to light brown color with smells of sweet candi malts and tastes of caramel. very sweet. Lightly carbonated and drinks very easily. We mixed this with an Imperial Black Mocha Stout and that was an experience! If you have never do it and can get the beers, do it.

bye (281 characters)

Photo of bwiles
4.27/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Great combination of raspberry, cranberry and vanilla. It has a slight taste of cinnamon and hops. Smooth, creamy taste without an after taste. It has a good spicy smell which is pleasant. I like Cold Mountain as a good winter Ale. Highland has done a good job with this one. (275 characters)

Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.26/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass. Liquid comes out a nice hearty amber/red/deep brown color. There's really good clarity and it glows when held up in the light. There's a nice white cap, mostly small bubbles, a little bit of lacing, but not a ton.

Smell is really good, malty with a lot going on. Sweet toffee and hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and hazelnut. There are also tones of raspberries and cranberries that provide a very subtle sweetness immediately followed by some tart, very natural. Interesting blend, with everything there's almost a coco aroma too.

Taste is exactly on par with the smell, except we have some nice regular beer flavors as well. There's definitely a prominent coco flavor, but it doesn't seem like it should fit in... except it totally does! There's a fruitiness again with some almost, not quite completely, ripe raspberries and then some cranberries. There's also the same hints of vanilla and hazelnut in there and that freaking coco. NONE of these flavors seem to stand out more than the other, everything is balanced and gentle/subtle. Very well done.

Mouthfeel is great. In addition to all of the great (very well blended) flavors, the beer is the heavier end of light bodied with a great carbonation level. Great sweetness with some natural bitterness at the end, but still clean. It's complex but soft and overall really well balanced. Great drink ability. It's easily the best "winter warmer" I've had all year and I could drink it all winter, but this brew could go deeper into the spring if it wanted to, as well as start in the fall. Nice job Highland, totally digging this beer, but I'm not surprised. Thanks Paschal for the awesome hookup! (1,711 characters)

Photo of Cyberkedi
4.26/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured, it has a lovely dark brown color with a nice thick head. Aroma is spicy with a strong hint of cinnamon. The pleasant, zingy taste is malty with spice hints and very little bitterness. It goes down smoothly and is very satisfying. This holiday beer is a delight any time of the year, good by itself or as an accompaniment to a light meal. (345 characters)

Photo of dancinwillie
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to turtlemoye for this one. I got it from a LIF he did, in which I didn't even win! I've been waiting to drink drink it, and I decided I'd better get around to doing just that. So here it goes.

Looks pretty thick coming out of that bottle. Head is fluffy, and cratered. Slow carbonation swells and releases sluggishly. As it drops and the bubbles become less dense, they spread out and look like under carbonated home brew heads. Color is dark red, and almost the shade of plum.

Aroma is nutty sweetness, almost peanut brittle. Unknown earthy spicing.

Sweet with a little bitterness, though not hoppy. Earthy and wholesome, like some really good multi-grain bread. Spicy, with a little oxidation that reminds me of an old, Old Ale. In the background: maple syrup and a little pumpkin pie flavor. As it warms, it gathers more of an Ale fruitiness, and again, I reminisce of pie fillings. This time more of a tart cherry, and maybe a little blackberry too. Toasted wheat berries.

Medium bodied, leaning more towards the fuller end of the spectrum. Sweet finish.

Overall, I'm really pretty impressed with this beer. I tend to rush a bit in my reviewing, and tried to slow it down here. I'm glad I did. Thanks again turtlemoye, I was thrilled to receive this and enjoyed drinking it. Now I just have to get going, and come up with an LIF of my own. Cheers! (1,370 characters)

Photo of rpjonesga
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I just had this beer on tap at Taco Mac in Atlanta. I was very surprised with the vanilla / creamy flavor of this one. Unfortunately, the beer was served too cold which probably took away from some of its charm.

I really didn't detect much in the way of hops but the rich, malty character was just what I wanted from a winter ale.

Highly recommended! (352 characters)

Photo of scottyshades
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a barely transparent mahogany color with a small off-white head

S: Awesome caramel malts, nuts, toffee, light spices (no clove), a little bread, lactose, and powdered milk chocolate

T: Finally a winter warmer with a great flavor profile that's not overdone. The spices blend very well with the malts. Also lactose, toffee, and a really delicious chocolate/cocoa note that compliments the nuttiness

MF/D: Smooth velvety feel, lower carbonation, lighter in body than the others, and a finish of lactose, cocoa, and hazelnut

Notes: not the biggest or boldest, but perfectly balanced and not too spiced up (614 characters)

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Unibroue tulip glass ruby red in color. Has great clarity, decent retention and good lacing.

Sweet caramel malty scent balanced by a delicate floral hop bouquet. Smells pretty simplistic, but nice, clean and fresh.

Wow, this goes down easy. Smoooth. Creamy malt bill followed closely by a nice hint 'o hops for a nice clean finish. Hints of cola, sorghum and coconut. Very fresh and balanced taste. I have been impressed with the few Highland offerings I have had so far. Would have no problem buying some more of these. (536 characters)

Photo of bigfnjoe
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a Duvel tulip

A- pours a nice cherry red with a half finger tan head that sticks around for awhile. Nice looking beer, minus the head

S- huge aromas of raspberries and cinnamon coming through...wow, excellent and very unexpected

T- a nice punch of raspberries to start, then moving into some nuttiness and a little cinnamon to finish. Very unique, and very good

M- medium bodied, on the thicker side. Maybe a little too much body

O- most winter warmers are overspiced and generally taste the same. This one though, it's a nice changeup from the normal, and something that's done very well. Well done, Highland (640 characters)

Photo of HeyItsChili
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Pours a dark, murky garnet/amber with a foamy tan head that clings to the surface of the beer.

S - Vanilla, brown sugar,

T - Exceptionally complex. Sweet, almost cream soda like with the vanilla accent, spicy, warm sweet and roasted malt. Teeny bit of hops at the end.

M - Not too thick, a little crispness from carbonation.

D - Delicious. If I ever find my way into one of those ski chalets I hear so much about I'll down some of these around a roaring fire. (508 characters)

Photo of mountaingirl88
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this years taste from the Weinhaus in Asheville. Hard to come by, but well worth it. Loved it better than last years. Enjoyed the hazelnut flavor. Not crazy about all the vanilla, especially with the after taste. Smell and drinkability are absolutly delicious. I have had this in both the bottle and on draft. Prefer bottle, but since that's all gone draft will have to do. Usual Suspects is my favorite draft spot for this beer. They keep it nice and cold and still have some left! (488 characters)

Photo of Jimlikesbeer
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

Highland brewing Company Cold Mountain Winter Ale is a really good seasonal. I don't get why it is in such demand though. Most places around here sell out in one day, and I am in North Carolina. Amber color, winter spices, especially nutmeg, and pours with a good head. This is a very good beer, but not worth driving all over town trying to find one bottle (all most places would sell me). Plenty of other seasonals that are just as good. (442 characters)

Photo of Immortale25
4.24/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Surprise keg at Thirsty Monk Asheville. Served in an Unknown Brewing pint glass.

A- Pours a reddish dark amber color with a 1/2 inch light tan head that retains well before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a solid sheet of surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a jagged ring behind.

S- Great notes of caramel, sweet dark fruit like sugary raisins, fig and some bready fruitcake all tied together nicely with a considerable hop aroma. Kinda ends up seeming like a light barleywine in the all-around bouquet.

T- Taste goes in the same direction with more dark fruit, brown sugar, maybe a hint of maple and even a nuttiness which I think may be perceptive due to the fact that it tastes so close to fruitcake. Once again, there's a solid hop presence behind all this which is what I think is the key to the complexity exhibited in the flavor profile.

M- Soft, almost creamy with medium-low carbonation and a fullish body.

O- Apparently this beer falls in the "used to be so much better" class of seasonal releases but I think this is a great beer. Kind of on the light side for a winter warmer in regards to both ABV and malt content but I can't mention enough how the hops really make all the spices sing together in a unique harmony. A must try if you have the chance. So glad I was able to six months after it was released. (1,355 characters)

Photo of ElGordo
4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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. (716 characters)

Photo of number1bum
4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Deuane, via ClockworkOrange, for a 6er of this.

Pours a tawny copper color, pretty clear, with about a finger and a half of beige head. Head keeps pretty well, with a full lace and some very nice sticky webbing on the sides. Coats the glass well.

Smells of sweet caramel and toffee, with a good amount of vanilla too. Smells a bit like butterscotch. Starts to open up more as it warms, with a nutty aroma, some cocoa and a bit of sweet orange.

Taste is really complex, and there's a lot more going on than the nose let on. There's much more fruit flavor - orange, cranberry. It's spicier than the nose too, with more of the cinnamon coming through. There is lots of sweet caramel here, although with the vanilla plus some buttery flavor it has a butterscotch quality to it. And then there is a nuttiness to the beer, plus some earthy bitterness in the finish. This is some tasty, complex stuff.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with average carbonation. Pretty smooth, although could maybe be a touch creamier.

What's nice about this beer is that it's not just a spiced up malt bomb like a lot of winter warmers. There's so much more going on. Definitely one of the more interesting, and tasty, winter warmers I have had in some time. (1,245 characters)

Photo of tavernjef
4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lush blurry cranberry red color with a slim, compact capping of lightly tanned creamy foam. Light lacing sticks low across the glass in a thin sheeting.

Aroma is fairly malty with a candied corn sweetness with some soft nuttyness and lower developed dark fruityness that seeps in a bit of cherry and raisin paste. Maple, vanilla, and toffee really begin to emerge as it sits a while.

Taste is a solid malty treat with a soft supple thickness displaying the whole way through, yet uncloying to the palate in any major fashion and making for a nice sipper. Flavors are well rounded and muted with deep, saturated dark fruityness. Mingling raisin, prune, plum, and dark cherry across the front and middle where the peak then hits with a very nice subtle turn into a bakery fresh softness of cocoa, cinnamon, maple, vanilla, and toffee. Which in itself has one uniquely fine drying effect thats all encompassingly great to behold. Excellent balance in flavors and tone. A very tasty subtle treat.

Body is about medium with a soft creamyness that coats the palate well and really sits nice once the peak hits. Then the finish ensues onward into a bakery goodness thats fresh and wonderfully drying without a whole lot of anything but ghostly remains of one well crafted beer leaving an impression on the taste buds.

A soothing drinker of a Winter Warmer. Subtle, malty, with an infused quality of bakery fresh doughnut toppings and fillings. Nice stuff. (1,460 characters)

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 308 ratings.