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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

310 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 310
Hads: 714
Avg: 4
pDev: 13%
Wants: 87
Gots: 119 | 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: 310 | Hads: 714
Photo of rajendra82
3.54/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Started getting the beer this year in Georgia in 22 oz. bombers (without the flip top), so went head and picked some up at Bullock’s on Sandy Plains in Marietta to sample what the North Carolinians have been raving about for so long.

The body came out deep reddish brown with a smallish foamy head that started off at one finger thick, and stayed at that level for a while. The smell was just absent, with even deep inhalation revealing almost nothing, except some timid floral to citric hops. The taste on the other hand was much more expressive, comprising of sweet caramel malt with just a hint of chocolate, winter spices (ginger, cinnamon, and clove), and citric hops all complimenting each other quite nicely. Much lighter in body than most Winter Warmers, with the lively carbonation sparkling across the tongue like a soda, this felt more like a spice enhanced Bitter. Quite easy to drink, and relatively low in ABV, this is very suitable for the milder Southern climate, with its pseudo winter.

May be next year, they can pump up the recipe to the next level, now that the cap has been popped,

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Photo of blitz134
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark copper color on the pour, crystal clear body. Single finger off white head which finished in a thin layer.

Spices really come through in the aroma. A nice spiced blend of nutmeg and ginger and a touch of cinnamon. Hops are prevalent with a little pine.

Taste is much more powerful that any other winter warmer I've had, although I still don't find it loaded with flavor. This type of beer is just a bit subtle, but delicious. Overall it has a bit of a caramel sweet body which comes through to start with, then the spices come on with a very nice crispness. Spices are much like the aroma, nutmeg and ginger. Then a bit of hop bitterness comes in and the spices come back in the finish.

Mouthfeel could be a touch thicker, but does a good job coating the mouth well to let the spices come though. Drinkablity is great. This is a very refreshing brew with a nice crispness.

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Photo of DeaconBluez
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


poured a fading brown. little over a finger head. lacing is better than the head.

i can smell very little in this. little bit of malts and spice.

taste. wow! now this what i think most winter warmers should strive for. hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. vanilla pops its head in there as well. perfect blend. some hops. but the spices is what really stands out on this. it really makes one think of the holidays.

mouthfeel is nice. there is not a lot of carbonation on this, which is nice, i am not burping on this.

drinkability is very good. i wish this was offered all year long. the taste is what make this beer a good one in my book. wish i was in a state that sold this because i would go out by several more right now. go buy now!!

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Photo of TheEclecticGent
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This winter warmer is from one of my favorite breweries – Highland Brewing Company, Ashville, NC!! Salute! This beer pours a dark amber color with light carbonation. The smell is a deep spicy aroma. The taste is a deep and murky red “Scottish” ale flavor with spices and a nice molasses finish. The mouth feel is slightly heavy and full. This is a great beer, I need to go get more before the season passes.

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Photo of clvand0
4.67/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big flip-top bottle. Thanks Sam. Pours a brown/amber color with a small head that hangs around nicely and leaves some lacing on the glass. The aroma is a wonderful balance of diacetyl, chocolate and caramel. The flavor is right on with the aroma. Lots of caramel and chocolate with a diacetyl that reminds me of marshmallows. The body is on the light end of thick and the drinkability is very good.

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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 Enola
4.85/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is Highland's best effort. I wish this was a year-round offering. The appearance is a nice mahogony color. It had a decent head. The smell is a sweet, fruity smell. The taste is of caramel. It has a sweet taste to it as well. The mouthfeel is second to none. There is no negative aftertaste. No bite, nothing but smoothness. This is one of the best beers I have ever had. You can bet your ass I will be finding some more before the supply runs out.

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Photo of beerhandy
3.59/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours a murky brown with a thick tan head that quickly subsides to a thin layer of foam.The aroma was cranberries with
subtle notes of pumpkin pie.The taste was malty sweetness with faint cinnamon and clove spiciness.The hops are subdued but dry it up in the swallow.The body was a bit thin perhaps a bit cidery.
A good winter warmer .

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.6/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A beautiful, deep mahogony color is poured from a 22oz bottle. A luscious, tan head is formed atop the brew and leaves a small amount of lacing down the glass.

Smells like the holidays to me. Gingerbread and nutmeg and cloves are big in the nose. I long for some more holiday flavors and spices from this beer. If I could bottle this and put it in a holiday candle, I would. Maybe I will just pour it into an potpourri steamer.

"Um, I'll have the gingerbread with a side of cinammon. And go big on the malts please" is my order to the barkeep as I desire a second helping of this delicious beer. Also a great balance with some fruity hops as well. Perfectly balanced and great taste.

Hop bitterness and sweet, smooth character of the malts. Sweetness and tartness of the spices. "Thank you sir! May I have another!" This offering from Highland has me longing to be in my homeland of Scotland, tooting tunes on the ol' bagpipe, and a gallon of this sweet nectar in my kilt. Cheerio!

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Photo of nickss
4.01/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful deep amber hue with a monstrous cap of rocky cream colored foam.

Smells faintly of hops and malt... however I can't pick up on much else.

Unlike the smell, the taste is an explosion of different flavours... The first I picked up on was gingerbread, followed by subdued brown sugar... cinnamon follows closely behind. None of these are overwhelming, but rather are beautifully balanced against each other.

Medium bodied, and fairly active on the tongue.

Extremely drinkable... I wish this brew was a bit cheaper so I could grab a few more, although at $11 for a Litre, I suppose its not a bad deal.

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Photo of numenor1
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is unlike anything else I have ever had, incredibly unique. I feel the sum of its component parts, while recognizable, add up to something greater, creating new flavors. I poured my entire 1 liter bottle into my 1L german stein. It's a clear ruby, auburn brown with a creamy tan head. The foam tastes like candy. Smells sweet of cherries, some brown sugar and a faint bitter twinge. Taste upfront is sour/marashino cherries but minus the incredible sweetness. Then a solid bitterness emerges, preventing anything from becoming cloying. In the meantime flavor really depends on what you focus on. There's brown sugar, more cherry, some vanilla, there's some faint smokiness, and an incredible interplay thereof. The flavors really work well together. Bitterness keeps everything in check. The finish lingers for quite a while, very smooth, almost a buttery finish yet not diacetyl. I won't guess as to the spices used. Mouthfeel is medium, with relatively low carbonation, making it very chewy. Very drinkable. This is unlike any other beer i've ever had. I'm exercising restraint in not popping open my second liter.

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Photo of waldowin
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poures a crystal-clear dark ruby with a light tan head. The head is constantly in flux, and shifting and bubbling even as it slowly fades to a thin capper. Minimal lacing.

Smells of vanilla, oranges, and a hint of bourbon.

First taste was an immediate "Woah, what the heck?" This beer is vastly unlike any beer I've had before. Hints of coriander, and full flavors of vanilla, oak, and bourbon come through. Almost a madarin glaze finish to this beer. Very smooth and light, with a light crisp hopping at the tail end. Very sweet, and fairly malty, with not too many hops. For a malthead like me, this is great. Would go excellently with duck, or maybe goose, something rich and hearty to pair of the lightness and sweetness of this brew.

Mouthfeel is light, and smooth, if not terribly big. Leaves a nice slightly tart sweetness in the mouth.

This is a very smooth and light beer (if you haven't gathered that already), and extremely easy to drink. Wish I knew the ABV, as there's just no way to tell based on taste alone.

Many thanks to merlin48 for this very hard to find beer!

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Photo of AlexJ
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark amber red pour with a fluffy beige head that retains pretty well and streaks my tulip with lace.

Aroma is a comforting mix of chewy malts, molasses, vanilla, light spice, pine, and citrus hops.

Flavor starts off with chewy caramel and brown sugar, dark fruits, dark moist bread, and leads to strong notions of vanilla bean and subtle spice. As it warms the sweet vanilla flavor really stands out, yum. Pine and citrus hops provide a pleasantly bitter trailing finish. Well balanced and very tastey.

Body is medium, or just shy of. Smooth and very creamy texture. A very solid Winter Warmer and one i will be going back to.

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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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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.

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Photo of blackie
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 Release

appearance: The pour into my snifter creates a low, off white head that quickly recedes to only a collar around the glass. The color of the beer is a very nice reddish mahogany.

smell: considerable carob aroma, light holiday (pie) spice, hops very hard to find but they're there. Reminds me almost perfectly of my grandma's sweet potato casserole (toasted marshmallows, brown sugar, spice, butter, sweet potato). *Melted marshmallows, candied orange, crystallized ginger, vanilla, toffee.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is maybe slightly less than medium, as is the body.

taste: The same carob I found on the nose is big here. Again I am reminded of sweet potato casserole. The spice is less noticeable on the tongue. Plenty of hops provide a good balance, becoming most evident after the initial flavor rush. *Graham cracker, sassafrass.

drinkability: very easy drinking for such a flavorful beer.

This is my first ever Higland Cold Mountain Winter Ale. A very intricate and complex beer. *I revisited this beer after a couple months to attempt to isolate some more of its nuances.

2006 Release: I was going to make another review for this year's, but it seems pretty simlar to last year. Same rich brown color, and nice retention of the slight head. Buttery cookie dough, spicy bread, and vanilla notes. Light, floral hops. Cinnamon-sugar toast. Seems to be a higher hop profile than last year, but it could just be fresher. At present, the hops block out a little of the aroma and flavor.

2011: Fairly consistent with years past. A Christmas classic for the home state. I will add that, now that it's described on the bottle, there's an evident hazelnut aroma. Picked up a bomber at Bottle Revolution in Raleigh. Gonna let the old scores stand.

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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 Gusler
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After its release from the 1 liter swing top brown bottle, it resides in the glass a slightly hazy deep amber to copper color with a moderate in size frothy light tan head that erodes rather quickly leaving a satisfactory sheet of lace to cover the glass. Nose is sweet malt with hints of vanilla, nut-like, caramel corn also comes to mind, and fresh and appetizing, start is somewhat sweet with a decent grain presence and the top middling in its feel to the palate. Finish is benignly acidic with a delightful hop spiciness and quite dry aftertaste, a quite drinkable beer that I savored over a couple of days

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Photo of mentor
4.67/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bomber generously provided by GCBrewingCo. The bottle in my hand tonight is different than the one pictured on this site. I think the bottle I'm enjoying now was patiently aged by Mike for two years. I reviewed one of the pictured bottles about 6 months ago and loved it so much I've been trying to get more ever since.

Pours a half-finger light brown head over a crystal clear brown-rust liquid. Smells...like gingerbread cookies! Biscuit malt, sugar dough, light sweet ginger, and hazelnut. Tastes...like gingerbread cookies! Graham crackers, maple-flavored sugar candies, caramel, sweet hints of ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Biscuity malt, but also just a ting of a sour that I think doesn't quite fit. The graham crackers persist during the swallow and the caramel develops into more of a toffee. The aftertaste has some chocolate and is quite dry on the flat of my tongue. Medium in the mouth, but its got a relatively thick viscocity. Carbonation is mild and quite in tune with the flavors in this beer.

This beer is an example of flavors that are well balanced and complimentary. None of the flavors rise to dominance or fade under pressure from other flavors. Instead, they tumble around like vegetables in a simmering stew. Dancing along the surface and bumping gently into others, sending each off in a new direction. I absolutely love this beer and am already thinking about how I might get a case of this when it's next released.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hmmm, it's hot-as-heck in July, 90+ all week long..great time to break open a winter warmer, right? Right!

22-ounce bomber poured into 16-ounce goblet, a deep brown hue, nearly plum in places, with slim cocoa/cola-toned head.

Aroma: dark fruits, and nuts, sweetness, molasse and maple syrup, sugar beets, ripe and spicy...very interesting, and quite unique.

Taste: yum, ...same flavors noted in the nose reappear on the tongue. Full-bodied, and incredibly smooth, while delivering copious amounts of sweet, delicioius flavors. A rich and relaxing brew, sweet candyish flavors, a hint of toffee, a wiggle of caramel. Ends a bit dryly, much appreciated.
Yum, I say again, tas-tee!
What could be better for a mid-summer morning?

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Photo of BrewMaster
4.57/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Clear, bright red color with a lacy head.

Smell: Very interesting and unique aroma on this beer. Strong scents of berries (strawberries maybe?) and a bit of a citrus not as well. It has a very enticing and good smell.

Taste: Wow. Cherry with a light maltiness topped with a spices, strawberry, brown sugar, and cinnamon. There is a nice balance of pine/spruce type flavor in there as well. The beer finishes with some sweetness and tanginess. It is a treat in the mouth.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and clean in the palate. The flavors blend so well and balance on the palate that one cannot help but enjoy this fantastic brew.

Drinkability: I was a bit sad that I had only one bottle of this to drink. Since finishing this bottle I keep wishing I had more. This is a great beer to drink with dinner. I paired it with some BBQ chicken, rice pilaf, and green salad and this beer complimented it all very well. I could drink this beer all day if I could get my hands on more of it.

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Photo of CRJMellor
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark caramel with brown hints, moderate dark white head bu leaves no lace.
Aroma of sweet caramel, toffee, bread, chocolate and some nuts.
Flavor of sticky, sweet toffee, molasses, honey, faint chocolate, cassis. No real bitterness at all.
Mouthfeel is relatively, light bodied hyper sweet with some moderately, dry bread tones and finishes with a hint of spicy hops.
Drinkability is good, very sweet which makes tough to put down a lot but very good.

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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 ppoitras
4.07/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1L bottle from Secret Santa ninjaworm. Wax sealed swing-top. Cool.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" light tan head above a deep copper brew. Head shrinks pretty quickly, but still eaves a coating of uneven bubbles, and lacing is average. Aroma is sweetly of malts, coupled with a seemingly peat component. Not smoky, more of an earthy contribution there, maybe their yeast strain, never had anything from Highland before. Taste is a combination of sweet maltiness, earthy tones, and possibly a vanilla bean or two. Certainly a lot going on here, but it all comes together nicely. Mouthfeel is good, and drinkability is excellent. Nice offering here, with a cool package and a pleasing product.

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Photo of mntlover
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark mahogany color with a nice tan head that dissapears and leaves spotty lace. The aroma is big on malt caramel sugary coated fruits plums, raisins and figs with a touch of spice. Taste is big on flavor, molasses like, nice and sweet big on malt with fruit entering in the middle and finishing with light spice and candy also some vanilla flavors lingering. Mouthfeel while not full feels big lots of sugary malt flowing over the taste buds imparting sweetness. Drinkability is good glad it comes in liter bottles gives you plenty to enjoy, hopefully next year it will be stronger with the 6% cap gone. A nice little winter warmer can see why they sell so fast, glad I was able to find me a couple.

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 310 ratings.