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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

314 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 314
Hads: 746
Avg: 4
pDev: 20%
Wants: 85
Gots: 144 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Highland Brewing
North Carolina, United States | website

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: 314 | Hads: 746
Photo of Myotus
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured at 47°F from a 12oz bottle (bottled on 15Oct15) into a nonic pint glass. Consumed on 09Jan16.
LOOK: Pours with a fingers worth of khaki foam that shrinks down into a quarter fingers worth after 1 minute and 50 seconds. Dark copper in color. Rising bubbles are moderate in quantity and both small and medium in size. Lacing is moderate and mostly thin, with a few spots of thickness.
SMELL: Mild aromas of sweet chocolate, sweet and tart raspberries, toffee, vanilla, caramel, and white bread are backed by subtle cinnamon aromas and hints of piney hops.
TASTE: Strong toffee flavors and mild flavors of raspberries, figs, and plums (neither of the latter were in the smell) enter initially. The raspberry and plum flavors are a good balance between tart and sweet. Mild caramel, vanilla, and sweet chocolate flavors immediately follow as toffee flavors grow slightly stronger. Mild spruce (those came from nowhere) flavors and subtle piney hop flavors enter lastly as all previous flavors persist, except for sweet chocolate, which grow slightly stronger. Whatever cinnamon that was detected in the smell was not perceived in the taste.
FEEL: Somewhere between full-bodied and medium-bodied. Carbonation is moderate. Goes down somewhat smooth. Finishes with a slight dryness.
NOTE: This was the best Winter Warmer I have had to date. If you can get your hands on one, I would suggest you do so.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - The poured a drak brown color with visible carbonation but little head.

Smell - The beer smells of Christmas with notes of ginger and pine.

Taste - My initial impression is liquid Christmas tree with strong ginger notes and other spices. The malts form a dry cookie backbone. The pine lingers at its most bitter in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - The mouthfeel reminds me of a brown ale. Carbonation is faint.

Overall - This is a great winter warmer. Seek it!

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Photo of outdoor7or24
3.74/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle thanks to Kyle. Poured into dogfish head pint glass.
A: pours a clear dark ruby brown body, off white foam fine bubble head, some spotty lacing, carbonation
S: best part of this brew, raspberry, cranberry, vanilla, slight cinnamon, very light hints of hazelnut, hint of citrus hop
M: medium body, creamy
T: roasted malt, hint of rasberry, vanilla, some lite bitterness from the hops, caramel, toasted nut, cinnamon
O: good brew, could drink a few of these, smooth flavor

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Photo of clayrock81
3.79/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured a brownish red body with one finger tan head and lace ring. Aroma has some sweet spices to it like cinnamon and vanilla to it. Medium bodied beer, has this cinnamon/vanilla spicy sweetness kick to it for some reason (nutmeg it isn't as nutmeg isn't this bold) and finishes hot, but not boozy, and spicy. A one-trick pony, so to say, as it can be summed up as sweet and spicy (not to infer that this beer is like BBQ sauce) and I enjoyed it.

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Photo of mlockman
3.1/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Far from opaque, this beer had more of an amber hue and had a large head when agitated. The aroma followed the palate being largely uninteresting with minimal notes of spice of any kind and only the faintest bit of maltiness to its flavor. While it improved marginally as it warmed, I found this beer to be largely disappointing and certainly not worth its price tag.

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Photo of rasafrasit
2.26/5  rDev -43.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

People around Asheville go manic for this stuff but to me it tastes like a Target potpourri candle: saccharine in sweetness, overloaded with pungent "spices" and little or no true body. This beer is all hype and no substance.

Look: nice amber color and decent head
Smell: like your grannie's guest bathroom
Taste: overloaded with "flavors" but basically a gimmick beer
Feel: slightly syrupy but inoffensive
Overall: I'd rather drink a soda

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Photo of KingEdward
3.17/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Not much flavor . Brown ale with extracts poured into it. Could be done much better. Decent for a brown ale. overpriced. I try it once when it comes out to make sure its as equally disapointing as the year befores version...

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Photo of gcamparone
4.14/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Acquired as an extra in a trade.

Pours a deep Amber, translucent body with an off white head that reduces to a ring. Pretty nice color!

Spices and malt, toffee, caramel dominate the nose. On the tongue is a really nice medley of sweet vanilla, toffee, caramel, butterscotch, and slight spices. Low carbonation, medium body.

It's held up since winter, I really enjoyed this one. Nice flavored all around

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Photo of scbeerman
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Found on tap at Backstreets in Clemson, SC and took a case home as a Christmas present.
Poured a medium-dark brown; clear with plenty of red hints noticeable. Thin off-white head that left nice lacing.
Nose of vanilla, some roasted malts, raspberries, spices. Not a strong smelling beer but pleasant.
Tastes similar to the smell, but with great complexity and depth of flavor. Vanilla most prominently with hints of cocoa, hazelnut, raspberries over a solid malt backbone with some light hop bitterness and pine present towards the finish. Not overly spiced like some winter ales.
Mouthfeel is light and slightly oily with medium low carbonation. Definitely very drinkable; it would be easy to have a few of these.
Overall, this was definitely much better than I expected and it's become my favorite seasonal beer. Extremely drinkable with a much more subtle flavor than most over-spiced winter beers. Definitely try it at least once if it's available in your area.

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Photo of Jarnol21
4.74/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is hands down my favorite winter ale. Vanilla is the dominant flavor and it could not be smoother drinking! Grab it if you see it, it's very hard to get your hands on. Cheers to Highland!

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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 Tilly
3.64/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice transparent brown with a huge thick frothy head. Aromas of carmalized sugar, vanilla and light fruits. Tastes complexed. Carmalized sugar, vanilla and light fruit taste! Go figure! Light mouth feel, light with not much bitterness. Nice winter ale.

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Photo of KnucklesMcFisty
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

Wow...this is a pretty beer...the color is very inviting! Smell leans towards vanilla and caramelized sugar. Nothing really takes center stage in the taste...vanilla, dark fruit, raisins, sweetness from the malt and a dry, slightly spicy finish from the hops and cinnamon. This beer is all about balance...flavor, mouthfeel, aroma....they are all perfectly balanced making this an excellent winter warmer!

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Photo of east_tn_gk
4.75/5  rDev +18.8%

I thought this beer was amazing. It's not really heavy, more of a medium ale. The flavors that really stuck out to me were vanilla and hazelnut. The vanilla isn't too overbearing as some can be. The hazelnut evens it out to make a sweet, non-bitter excellent winter ale. Wish they had it all year.

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Photo of KYGunner
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%

The adjuncts are noticeable on the nose where vanilla is strongest. Hazelnut, malt, dark fruit, fruit cake, and a tinge of hops.

The front end holds vanilla but more tempered than the smell. The hazelnut comes next and then fruitcake. The fruit is mostly prune. The cake is mostly malty. The end is rather bitter but it's not detracting. The feel is a little too thin.

This is a rather good winter warmer that with a bit more malt could be great.

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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.

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Photo of zac16125
4.19/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into a Stella goblet
2014 vintage

A: Dark mahogany, 2.5 fingers width of tan head has good retention before dissipating down and leaves lots of lacing. 4.25

S: Chocolate, vanilla, caramel/toffee, hazelnut, cinnamon. The hazelnut/chocolate combo reminds me of nutella (I love nutella, btw). Nice aromas, but as a whole they are quite mild. 4

T: Really good. Lots of hazelnut and chocolate, again the taste reminds me of nutella, I also get some roasted malt, vanilla. Tasty 4.25

M/D: Smooth, medium body, carbonation on the lower end which is appropriate, has a feel of a “bigger” beer, in a good way. Drinkability is above average. 4.25

O: I very much enjoyed this, more so than I thought I would. I’ll probably add this to my “once a year each winter” lineup. 4.25

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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.

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Photo of joe1510
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

32oz Swingtop

Huge thanks to, Wilson, for this monstrous drink. Cheers, dude! Glug, glug, glug from the hefty liter bottle. A chestnut brown liquid fills the glass with enough clarity to read the interwebs through the body. Ruby highlights accentuate the sexiness. The ecru head is short but stout, with the boldness of immovability. Lacing sticks in sheets.

The nose is complex but seamless. It won't hit you over the head but give you a massage instead. Ginger flashes upfront with candied citrus peel up next. Dusty cocoa, a touch of spicy hops, and rich caramel all seamlessly interact. Soda bread maltiness make for a subtly sweet base. Raisins and toffee rise from the depths with warmth.

While the nose was subtle and complex the flavor is straight up robust and comforting. Caramel, soda bread, and toffee all play large, complex roles. Raisin sweetness is soft and well rounded while the ginger adds a quick zip of vibrancy. The candied citrus peel is hidden but peeking its head free. A dusting of cocoa powder is the cherry on top. You've heard of comfort food; here's comfort beer.

The body weighs in at moderate. I thought this was a little low on the first few sips but as I drink more I don't believe I'd change a thing. A bigger body would be too large for such a well rounded, subtly but deeply complex libation. Carbonation is soft enough to allow each flavor to be processed while active enough to keep any stick away. Semi-dry finish.

Cold Mountain is a handsome beer. Every aspect is a hit in my book and spiced beer isn't usually my thing, in this case it's done with a deft hand and great knowledge. Smells delicious. Tastes immeasurably complex, well rounded and comforting. Tastes like a fruit cake that's actually good. Like how you think a fruitcake would taste if you've never had one and were told its ingredients. Delicious! Thanks, Wil!

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.84/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a ruby-tinted caramel coloring with a thin, sparse, surface coating of foam. Aromas of roasted nut sweetness, plum, dates, raisins, berries, toffee and caramel in the backbone, and a subtle cinnamon spicing. Smells are rich, but light enough to refrain from overpowering. Flavors are roasted and rich forward, with a tart and tangy berry and nut sweetness blending on the palate, with some woody and subtle bitter highlights. The body is robust, but light, with a transition into a crisp, clean finish. The aftertaste is more of the caramel and toffee sweetness, although some fruity notes do linger through. Easy drinker and full of flavor.

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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.

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Photo of humuloner22
3.44/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This one has gotten a lot of attention, especially around the holidays, I have tried it for several years and I do feel that it has lost something this year (2013). It has a nice dark color, the smell is very festive for which it represents. It has an almost egg nogg smell and to a certain degree taste as well. I like eggnogg and I like beer and I do believe that this one balances that pretty well. Most holiday/winter beers have too much of one spice or another but this one balances it pretty well. But, this year did fall a little flat to me. I enjoyed it, its a great beer and much better than most, but there was a bit less of the things I used to like about it and more of the just average ale taste coming through. I like a good ale and this would be a good one by itself, but for a quarter of the price. Overall, I will continue to have a pour of this around the holidays, when I run across it. One thing I would like to try is it on draft, but that is nearly impossible to do, it goes extremely quickly and you have to be at the right place at the right time. I am like Dr. John unfortunately.

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Photo of barczar
3.73/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a brilliant amber with a frothy, lingering beige head that leaves spotty lacing.

Nutty, toasted malt dominates the aroma, with a hint of specialty fruitiness and floral hops.

Flavor reveals soft underpinnings of spice, a backbone of toasted nuts, substantial malt fruitiness, and a lightly floral and fairly bitter hop finish. Cinnamon, perhaps nutmeg, and clove are very subtle...indistinguishable. Vanilla, cocoa, and oak surface in the aftertaste.

Body is moderate, with carbonation a touch high, and light alcohol warmth.

Aside from the malt fruitiness, metallic character, and slightly overly bitter finish, a very nice winter warmer. Like the subtlety of spicing. Good malt character, though it may benefit from even more.

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Photo of Jhansengranger
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Typically not a fan of winter ales as I generally find them over spiced. This winter ale is definitely an exception.

A- Caramel brown to amber color with only a little bit of head, less than I was expecting, maybe I should have opened it sooner. Still a nice color though.

S- Wonderful smell, caramel and a bit of sweet fruit to it. Still smells slightly like Christmas without being overpowering in the least.

T- The smell of the beer did not disappoint. Lots of sweet fruit notes and just a small hint of those winter spices you expect. Vanilla and berries stand out a bit. A bit more alcohol flavor than I was expecting based on the ABV.

M- Quite creamy and nice to drink, certainly a go-to beverage for winter.

O- Easy to drink with hints of interesting spices that are very complimentary to the ale. Sweet flavors but not too sweet to drink by the gallon. I'd highly recommend this well balanced beer.

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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.

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 314 ratings.