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
90
outstanding

696 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 696
Reviews: 313
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 13.18%
Wants: 83
Gots: 108 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 696 | Reviews: 313
Photo of HeadE
2.73/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured from 22oz bottle to pint glass with coppery color and minimal head with no lacing.
Aroma is of overwhelming vanilla tones with none of the usual spice or roasted malt characteristics of a winter warmer.
Flavor reminiscent of cream soda with strong vanilla notes and no hop finish. Overly sweet with caramel tones in the background.
As fans of the previous offerings of Cold Mountain, my wife and I both agree this was a poor showing. Another bottle in the fridge, we will give it one more chance but are not as excited about future showings as we have been in the past. Perhaps it will cellar and age well and we will buy another to try again in six months.

Photo of beertunes
3.2/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into 10oz glass. Poured a clean, clear ruby-brown color with just the thinnest cap of slightly off-white head that no retention or lacing.

The aroma is very much a sweet malt bomb. There are some hints of raisins or other sweet fruits. Not much, a bit, of show through. The flavors very similar, with the addition a sticky-sweet finish.

Mouthfeel and drinkability were both average for the style. Overall, a decent, if not spectacular, example of the style. Worth a shot if you see it.

Photo of mrkrispy
3.99/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured in to a glass with a bit of trepidation since I tend not to be fan of Winter Warmers...they are usually egregiously overspiced and out of balance.

Tons of toffee, caramel, and chocolates in the nose. In the taste. In the body. Not a sweet chocolate syrup style beer, more like an American brown with more complexity. Malty, no spices trying to ruin the show. A bit thin compared to the taste, but that gives it some mystique. Slight alcohol notes after a few sips. Full bodies, with an odd finish...you expect it to be creamy but it really isn't.

Pretty interesting, pretty good. Worth a try!

Photo of scarfield
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 1 liter bottle and poured into several Goblets. Shared with a friend who received it in a trade. Amber as it is poured and Little head yields minimal lacing. No taste particularly stands out. The predominant flavor is that of bitter nuts, caramel, and vanilla. More malty than hoppy. Would prefer a bit more lingering taste from this beer, but still a good one to spend an evening with.

Photo of krisandajt
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

For me, this beer tells an interesting tale. After a bit of an unexpected wait, I finally get to try it. Sure, a Winter Warmer might not be the best beer to drink on this warm Spring afternoon (the first NEPA has seen in a while), but what the Hell...

Appearance: Poured from a bottle into my DFH Off-Centered pint glass, the beer is a slightly rusty amber color. There's about a half inch worth of dirty white, creamy head. The retention isn't too bad, and there's some nice thick, sticky lacing clinging to the sides of the glass.

Smell: Not as spicy as I expected, but the typical winter spice is definitely there. Very sweet, with an almost caramel kind of smell. So far, so good.

Taste: Sweet like the nose hinted at (caramel), but there's more spice coming through than I would think. The spice isn't overly complicated, I'm getting a lot of nutmeg and ginger. As far as Winter Warmer's go, this is quite good. I'm not a fan of overly spiced beer, but this one keeps it simple enough that I can really enjoy the flavor.

Mouthfeel: A wee bit undercarbonated for my tastes, the mouthfeel is a bit lacking. The body is good, medium- to full-, but kicking up the carbonation would really go a long way.

Drinkability: Not bad at all for a Winter Warmer, and to be honest it's much better than I expected. Easy drinking with some good flavor. Definitely better suited for a cold winter night in front of a fire, but it's holding its own on this warm Spring afternoon.

Photo of number1bum
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

Photo of argock
3.99/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from 1-liter flip-top brown bottle into a clear pint glass. No freshness date. Purchased at Peabody's Wine and Beer Merchants (Boone, NC) for $10.49.

A: Amber with 1-finger off-white head that dissipates quickly and leaves a few spots of lace.

S: Delicious aroma array including caramel and toffee maltiness, some cocoa with marshmallows, floral hops, and interesting but subtle spicing that really works well which include cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. The spicing is not obnoxious like in many winter warmers.

T: The spicing really pays dividends with a varied, complex profile. Caramel-toffee is the leader, but sweet chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardaomom flavors are all there. The spicing is really excellently done -- not overbearing but accentuating the overall flavor of the brew with nice touches to produce a cohesive beer with a little tingle. Hopping is light but not forgotten with some floral, slightly minty flavors breaking through here and there. Vanilla frosting flavor is especially strong in the finish.

M: The only disappointing part of this brew is the thin feel. The body could be chewier. Aftertaste is very spiciy and vanilla-heavy.

D: Easily my favorite winter warmer -- I will be looking for this in-season next time around given how much my wife and I enjoyed this on an overwarm April day.

Photo of a10t2
2.74/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Brown 22 oz bottle, poured into a 19 oz tulip glass. No visible date or batch number.

A: Clear, and absolutely beautiful ruby to brown color. Tiny wisps of off-white head that linger, but no lacing.

S: Diacetyl is very evident, along with some vanilla or oaky notes and a subtly earthy character that could be hops.

T: Thankfully, the diacetyl is restrained compared to the aroma. There's definite vanilla here as well, along with a big hit of caramel-y sweetness. Not much else going on though.

M: Diacetyl is again apparent on the roof of the mouth, although there's enough carbonation to cut through and keep it from being vinous.

D: I finished the beer, although I don't think I would ever try it again based on this sample.

Photo of Bolendak
4.72/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What a beer this was! Cold Mountain Winter Ale is a brew that would make any NC native proud. I first had this pint at the Flying Saucer in Raleigh, NC after three friends ordered the a pint of this Highland beer, and urged me to do the same. As with any new beer I was a bit skeptical and anxious, however, Cold Mountain came through. The appearance was a dark rosy color similar to an amber ale. The smell was almost flowery, reminiscent of Samuel Adams Nobel Pils. I was a bit worried when I saw the beermaid presenting me with this pint, it had little to no head. I don't know if that was because of the beer itself or if the bartender simply didn't know how to pour a pint. It had a very light mouth feel, with almost no trace of bitterness. Very similar to Red Oak but it had more fruity hints to it, almost like a kind of grapey aftertaste. I loved Cold Mountain Winter Aile and would highly recommend it.

Photo of cavedave
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks again, mrandypandy, another sparkler courtesy of you!

Pours a clear dark amber topped by a finger of near white foam. Excellent lace, and a bubbly skim remains through the glass.

What a nose, full aroma of caramel, spice, tart yeast, and hints of raisin bread.

Taste is unlike the nose. The first two sips tasted very full of spice, as it warmed the caramel and tart estery notes, and toasty raisin bread hints balanced extremely well. It finishes juicy with a nice hint of citrusy bitter to stay on the palate. This is the finest winter warmer I've tasted, the first I've really enjoyed.

Mouthfeel is light, despite the medium body of this, and the carbonation is medium, and perfect. Very clean finish, no spicy resins on the palate at all.

Drinkability is marvelous, a refreshing, delicious, easy to quaff brew.

Impression: I would get this every year, but Highland comes here not.

Photo of jbone78
4.27/5  rDev +6.2%
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

Photo of Deuane
4.3/5  rDev +7%
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!

Photo of callisbeers
3.23/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

No sense in decribing the color, head and lacing of this beer (it is prettu much the same as everyone elses reviews). yNice malty smell, with a hint of vanilla. Torn by the taste on this one. I normally like sweet tasting drinks but this one was almost too sweet. Almost like having a dessert wine. However, perhaps because this was my nightcap, I am somewhat enjoyed this beer. I think if I knew before hand that this was my last beer of the night, I would be happy to have it. But if I had started off the night with this one, I would have been disappointed. I do not think there is much drinkability here.

Photo of Slatetank
3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this at Deuane's 40th Birthday bash - poured chilled from the bottle into my 1/2 pint.

A - A chesnut brown shade with good clarity, and ordinary cream cap

S - A sweet nutty scent w/ mild cherry hints and light vanilla-like floral aroma

M- A mild sweet taste w/ malty presence which seems to become semi-dry with mellow carbonation and the sweet entry mellows toward the end w/ nutty light spiced finish

T - The taste is pleasant with mellow sweet tinges of caramel and gentle stone fruit tinges. The vanilla taste comes forward w/ malt presence that is borderline sweet and nutty w/ creamy mellow toasted flavor.The beer seems well balanced with a hint of spice flavor in the finish

D - A sweet brown winter ale, which has a nice creamy smoothness and yet moderately complex with both spice and malt presenting a balanced drinkable brew.

Photo of thegodfather2701
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a beautiful amber with a billowy slightly off white head. There is some nice cascading and lacing left on the glass.

S-Sweet and malty with a hint of vanilla.

T-Much like the nose as vanilla dominates. It starts out sweet but then ends with some lingering bitterness. There is a nice balance between the hops and malt, with the malt getting a slight edge.

M-Thick and creamy.

D-Very drinkable.

Overall, I am somewhat torn by this beer. While I did enjoy drinking it, it didn't have much complexity. It tasted just like vanilla coke which seemed both a positive and a negative. I gave it a solid 4 across the board and would definitely drink it again, but it doesn't come close to Anchor's annual offering.

Photo of johnnnniee
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received in trade from KarrHeel03, thanks for the opportunity.
Pours a clear reddish amber color with a stingy white head that recedes quickly but laces the sides quite nicely. Smells of sweet malts and spices. I pick up some cocoa, brown sugar, molasses, plums or prunes, and a touch of alcohol. There's a subtle spice in the nose that is quite non-descript but really pleasant. Taste is sweet brown sugar and alcohol up front. Dark fruits and a tease of hop bitterness on the tongue mid way through. Medium-dry sweet malty sugary finish. Ample carbonation, slick syrupy mouthfeel, medium bodied brew. I really enjoyed this one on this cold snowy day. I think it all comes together really well.

Photo of GJ40
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled from a 22oz bottle in a standard pint glass.

A - Light brown with good clarity and a moderate tan head that dissipates quickly.

S - Sarsaparilla and a touch of coffee.

T - Caramel, sarsaparilla and a touch of hops. A hint of bitterness and a mild sweetness. Spiced but not overly. It's very smooth and balanced.

M - A smooth, silky consistency with a nice low carbonation.

D - A nice complex and interesting flavor. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would..

Photo of aerozeppl
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to scifan for the bottle.

A: Nice looking browning copper color. Quite a bit of clarity for this beer. A quarter finger of white head with minimal lacing. Really nice looking when held up to the light.

S: Really great malt nose. Smells like an oatmeal cookie. Dmeadows shared a fliptop at a Captain Lawrence release and that bottle had much more cookie in the taste and nose but it is still there. Quite a bit of sweetness as well.

T: Oatmeal cookie. Just a great taste. No spice which is great because often this style is too spiced. Tons of malt finishes very clean.

M: Little syrupy. Full bodied.

D: Really great beer and one of the better examples of the style I have ever had. Thanks again to scifan for the bottle.

Photo of cpetrone84
3.86/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-it pours a transparent dark cherry red color with two full fingers of a thinner off white head that has some retention and leaves a nice lace on the glass

S-the nose is relatively subdued but what i get seems nice. there is some vanilla in there with a hint of caramel malt and a touch of cinnamon spice

T-the taste is a little bigger than the nose, it brings the vanilla right up front with lots more cinnamon than smell would have let on. there is a light floral ester taste and some bitterness towards the finish

M-this is a light bodied beer with the right amount of carbonation. it is relatively smooth with some presence of alcohol

D-its not bad, i like the taste but the body could have been a little fuller. some presence of alcohol also take away from a decent winter warmer.

Photo of avalon07
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

Photo of rustymoore
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber from the 22 oz. bottle. Nice head, minimal lacing.

Smells wonderful...vanilla and alcohol dominate with spices such as cinnamon. Tastes almost as good as the smell. The vanilla really sets this one apart. Flowery aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is somewhat watery but sweet.

Could easily drink several in a sitting. Highly recommended.

Photo of RyanC84
3.92/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Most recent 2009 vintage.

It's 29 degrees in Charleston, SC. Is there a better time to crack open a winter warmer in the Palmetto state?

A vigorous pour produces a creamy off-white two finger head that fades considerably but never disappears. The beer is a thin and somewhat bizarre hazelnut amber mix. Guess I was expecting something a little darker, but an attractive pour regardless.

The nose on Cold Mountain is something special. Sweet malt, lots of vanilla, spice, and a tiny hint of oak. No hops to be found here and I'm ok with that. This one smells like Christmas.

The taste is good but not great, perhaps a bit one-dimensional. Palate is dominated mostly by vanilla and oak. Some caramel and spice, but the vanilla-oak combo dominates the flavor profile.

I was expecting a heavier beer, but am pleased with the results. A thinner body makes this winter warmer an easy drinker, but you might want to split this one with a buddy. The one-dimensional flavor profile limits how much you'll be consuming in one night.

Very solid winter warmer from Highland.

Photo of elgiacomo
2.84/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

2009 22oz. bottle.

Pours red/copper/brown with a small off-white head that dissipates quickly to a light ring. Very little lacing.

Sweet aroma, caramel malt, vanilla, some dark fruit.

Flavor is underwhelming, some black cherries, caramel malt, vanilla, spice, but rather weak and watery. Somewhat medicinal.

Mouthfeel is low on carbonation, pretty thin, yet manages to get a bit sticky long after the finish.

A fair amount of local hype on this one and I was not terribly impressed for my first one. Coulda got an '08, but I will check it out again next year.

Photo of wagenvolks
4.06/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed this on-tap in 2007, decided to re-visit it thanks to atsprings, who included this 12oz as an extra in a recent trade.

Poured into a standard pint glass a crisp, burnt amber color that thins to ruby at the edges. Not much head, but what little bit of manila foam that forms sustains itself well and clings to the glass to provide some attractive lacing webs. Very muted aroma...not sure if I got an off-bottle, because I remember liking the smell of Cold Trail quite a bit. Faint hints of toasted caramel malts and pecans (ah, just read the label: hazelnut extract). Sweet vanilla and cotton-candy notes pull through more so as it warms with a hint of floral hops.

Delicious flavor, with a rich, toasty caramel nuttiness that smacks with sweet buttered toffee and a superb balance of resinous hops that add just the right amount of bitterness. Medium-thin body with a tight carbonation level and a biting, semi-dry finish. All in all, an excellent, sessionable beer that helps keep Highland as one of the top 5 NC breweries in my mind.

{Edit: just noticed I rated the on-tap version exactly the same for the "big three" of appearance, taste, and aroma. Nice.}

Photo of clemtig76
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

20oz brown bottle picked up at CBX in Charleston, SC. Pours out a beautiful dark amber color with ruby highlights and a nice fluffy beige head. A really beautiful looking brew.
Faint sweet aroma of vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Taste is where this beer fails me, my sample had a lingering metallic aftertaste that just would not go away. Last years version was what I expect from a winter warmer. This year Highland missed the mark with me.

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 696 ratings.