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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

554 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 554
Reviews: 297
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 13.18%
Wants: 68
Gots: 48 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Highland Brewing visit their website
North Carolina, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.80% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: RBorsato on 11-25-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 554 | Reviews: 297 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ColdPoncho
3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Nice clear ruby/amber body, no head really, but a small white ring.

S - caramel, honey, cinnamon, cloves...very sweet.

T - Cinnamon graham crackers, vanilla, spice. Theres something a bit off here...not too sure about this.

M - dry...medium body. Fine.

O (D) - It's a bit dry for my liking, and has a bit too much sweetness in the nose, but it's pretty good.

ColdPoncho, Jul 21, 2011
Photo of Urbancaver
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty reddish orange. A touch of white head. A very nice colour. Smells sweet sweet sweet. Cinnamon as well on the nose with a touch of vanilla. Tastes very busy. Vanilla, cinnamon, some light nuttiness. Lots going on in this beer. It's really quite tasty. Thick boozy mouthfeel. Overall pretty tasty.

Urbancaver, Jul 20, 2011
Photo of jbphoto88
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A pretty brew the color of stained cherry. A clear garnet red with a lovely tan cap that fades slowly. In the glass this winter ale looks pretty enough to hang on the tree.

The nose is plain but satisfying. Mostly malts with hints of spice and lightly hopped. Pleasant and not overpowering this is a beer that can't wait to get into.

Taste is fantastic for a winter ale. Big emphasis on the malts but with a balanced hop and subtle spice to "class" things up a little. The finish even goes towards a cream soda vibe. Interesting and satisfying.

A light carbonation goes a long way with this brew. It really let's the sweet malt flavors shine and doesn't distract with too much bite. A smooth medium bodied brew that is delicious and fun to drink even in the middle of summer like I'm doing. A great brew and worth discovering for yourself.

jbphoto88, Jul 02, 2011
Photo of JayS2629
4.38/5  rDev +9%
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.

JayS2629, May 18, 2011
Photo of AlexFields
4.56/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

EDIT: the recipe for this beer changes every year and this review is based on the winter 2010-11 vintage.

I've had this beer many times, mostly from bottles but also on tap. This review is a summation of my love affair with this awesome beer rather than notes from any particular tasting.

A: Just looks like a brown ale. Which makes sense, considering they use a brown ale as the base. Nice brown color and a really nice head for a brown ale, but nothing remarkable.

S: At this point it's hard for me to separate the nose from the taste on this, as when I smell it I can't help but imagine what I'm about to taste. That said, the nose is weaker than the taste. Smells sweet and creamy, recognize as a brown ale but obviously some spices going on, maybe some vanilla.

T: Amazing! The brown ale base is apparent, but much sweeter and richer than a standard brown ale and with little hint of the slight roasty tartness common to brown ales. Instead, you get huge creamy flavors. Winter spices here for sure, the kind of stuff you would put into a pumpkin pie, but they work their magic here in a subtle way and don't dominate the flavor. Some vanilla flavor too. It all works together perfectly.

M: Extraordinarily smooth and creamy. Like drinking silk, if silk were a tasty beverage. The mouthfeel is the most unique and memorable thing about this beer, I always look forward to it and it always matches or exceeds my expectations. Never had anything else quite like it. Just fantastic. Almost like a cask beer coming out of a bottle.

Overall: One of my all time favorite beers. Before I had this beer, I had very little regard for anything described as a "winter warmer," and in fact I still haven't had anything else from that category that really impressed me, but I like this beer so much that I'm willing to afford respect to the category just based on what Cold Mountain proves its potential to be. I just wish this stuff were easier to find outside of Asheville! A few bottles a year is not enough.

9.4/10

AlexFields, Mar 21, 2011
Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.05/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle split and poured into a Bruery tulip. No date or info listed on the bottle.

Thanks to my man Onenote81 for the cool sticker and coasters to accompany this brew! I love swag!

A - Beautiful, deep burnt amber in color with great clarity and a short, short-lived, off-white head. Good lace adorns the glass after it's depletion.

S - Sugary hazelnut and vanilla syrup like what's used in flavored coffee drinks. At first there was a blatant Willamet hop earthiness and rustic quality. Toasted Munich malts are in the background and fairly thin. Smells a little fake.

T - Bland toasted amber and caramelly Munich malts with subtle hop notes. Again, the vanilla and hazelnut flavors are far too sugary and syrupy in nature.

M - It's a bit thin and watery in body with a lightly dry finish. Weak bodied for a winter warmer.

D - Not awful or really offensive in any way, although the syrupy addition is a bit cloying. It's just too thin and spice-less for a winter warmer. I'm not exactly sure where the A- positive buzz is coming from with this brew. Thanks for a beer I've never had Jon, I do always appreciate the chance to try 'em!

BeerFMAndy, Mar 08, 2011
Photo of LiquidBread219
3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a - Pours a dark amber color with one inch of white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of butterscotch and vanilla. Also a little spice and bready malts. Pretty good.

t - Tastes of watered down vanilla and butterscotch, spices, bready malts, and toasted malts. Good, but as I said, tasted watered down.

m - Thin to medium body and low carbonation.

d - A nice winter warmer. Taste was a little lacking, but still enjoyable. Would have again.

LiquidBread219, Mar 05, 2011
Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured an amber with a little chill haze and a white head. Left a little spotted lacing.

The smell is of caramel, bakers chocolate, and nutmeg.

The taste was very good and refreshing. You pick up on caramel and a little cinnomin along with other spices and herbs. A fairly dry finish I assume from all the spices.

I am usually a little weary of Winter Warmers but this one hits the spot even on this cold night in Feb.

Eriktheipaman, Feb 24, 2011
Photo of djeucalyptus
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a bright amber-ruby hue with a frothy two-finger head that holds for a while and leaves pretty decent gobs of lacing down the glass.

aroma of brown sugar, caramel malt, hints of vanilla and some spices. a touch of earthy hops.

taste is interestingly deep although somewhat confusing. decent malt backbone accentuated by both a decent green herbal hopping and some funky vanilla and spice. it reminds me of cream soda mixed with a hoppy amber. and I haven't decided if that's a good thing.

the body is fairly light and the carbonation ample, which is good, because there's a definite lingering hop bitterness in the finish that is a step away from cloying. as is the odd sweetness. it's an odd dichotomy.

all in all, I can't say I'm completely impressed by this one. I love a good vanilla and spice winter brew, but this one may have just missed the mark a tad. not my favorite offering from Highland, but I could see warming up to another glass if I was in the right mood.

djeucalyptus, Feb 23, 2011
Photo of sommersb
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. brown bottle with no date code evident
Poured into a nonic pint

Bright, bronze-colored beer with a slight haziness to it. The head was frothy and about 4 fingers worth. The head stuck around for quite a while, and lacing was good.

At first I smell caramel malts, then some vanilla spices, then some faint hop aromas. The more the beer warms to room temperature I also get a spiciness that makes me think of whiskey.

Very nice and complex taste. At the beginning it had some biting tartness to it. Lightly sweet with the vanilla and peppery spices coming through more and more as I drank. A light bitterness is present from the hops. As the beer warmed up, I tasted an alcohol warmth and, as in the smell, what seemed like a whiskey flavor.

The mouthfeel was moderately-high carbonated, with a medium body. The finish was dry. Aftertaste had warming alcohol and spices on it.

This is an excellent beer and I would love to have this again next year.

sommersb, Feb 21, 2011
Photo of TheDTrain
3.1/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

When I think winter warmer, I think a spicy high abv ale that will warm the body and soul...unfortunately this is not it. A hazy bright golden color with a lighter body. Nose and mouth was dominated by the vanilla and caramel which was somewhat pleasing but a bit artificial like vanilla flavored syrup.

A drinkable brew but not what I consider a winter warmer.

TheDTrain, Feb 16, 2011
Photo of lnashsig
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to JackTheBear for the chance to try this. Poured into my Dfh snifter, pours an amber brown, with little head and little lacing. Smell- nothing much here. Some applejuice flavors. Taste- this one is very unique- not like any winter warmer I have ever had. I get some butter flavors, with something reminiscent of a fig or date flavor, with some apple and spices on the end. This is extremely drinkable, yet I have no idea what the abv is ( it isn't on the bottle). The alcohol seems to be well hidden regardless. I could easily mistake this for a session beer if I didn't know any better, it is something I could really pound.

lnashsig, Feb 13, 2011
Photo of Thorpe429
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Paul for sharing this at a recent tasting. Currently the #1 Winter Warmer. Served in a snifter.

Pours a nice caramel color with a really light head. Doesn't really stick around too long and only leaves a spot or two of lacing. The nose is loaded with vanilla, though it smells somewhat like extract. There's also a bit of caramel and malty sweetness. The taste is more vanilla plus some caramel. Not much else, though it's fairly nice. Beer has a medium body and finishes quite dry. Not terribly complex and not all the winter warmery, but pretty good.

Thorpe429, Jan 28, 2011
Photo of mdfb79
3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 01/22/11 notes. Shared by Lunch at a recent tasting. Thanks Paul.

a - Pours a dark amber color with one inch of white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of butterscotch and vanilla. Also a little spice and bready malts. Pretty good.

t - Tastes of watered down vanilla and butterscotch, spices, bready malts, and toasted malts. Good, but as I said, tasted watered down.

m - Thin to medium body and low carbonation.

d - A nice winter warmer. Taste was a little lacking, but still enjoyable. Would have again.

mdfb79, Jan 28, 2011
Photo of drabmuh
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Paul after my incessant whining. Currently the #1 Winter Warmer, although the more winter warmers I drink, I'm slowly realizing that this style has no style and you can call anything a winter warmer, I've had spicy ones, dark ones, light ones, hoppy ones, malty ones, the only commonality is that they were all released in winter and called warmers. Oh well. Poured into a Russian River wine glass.

Beer is light brown / orange with a thin off white head of small bubbles, low but steady carbonation, and the head leaves some lacing on the glass.

Aroma is vanilla and some malt...this was quite a shock to me.

Beer is sweet and undercarbonated on the palate. Huhzubendah said in his review that it tasted like cream soda...and it totally does. The vanilla wins on all front here. It opens with some sugary sweetness that is accented by the vanilla on the late front and midpalate. There is no real bitterness to this beer...just vanilla. It probably sounds like I'm putting it down and I'm not, I really am not. It does what it does well. Beer as cream soda. I like that.

drabmuh, Jan 25, 2011
Photo of Huhzubendah
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Lunch. Thanks Paul!

A: This brew appears clear and rusty orange / brown in color. The head is thin and wispy, but manages to generate a fair amount of lacing upon the glass.

S: Scents include vanilla, malt, alcohol.

T: This beer is quite different than I would have expected from a winter warmer. The flavor is remarkably similar to how I would imagine an alcoholic cream soda tastes. I happen to enjoy cream soda, so I'm totally cool with this unusual take on the style. Vanilla is the most forward flavor, followed by some sweet malt and light spice.

M: Thin bodied, with a fairly low level of carbonation.

D: A fun and interesting brew, but not something of which I would want too much.

Huhzubendah, Jan 24, 2011
Photo of Beertracker
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale pours up nicely with a moderate carbonation that creates a compact tannish creamy head that nicely tops the slightly hazy chestnut brown body. The sweet, layered caramel malt aroma is filled with a nice intermingling of fruitiness (candied yams, caramel apples, sugared plums) and spiciness (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace, vanilla bean) followed by a hint of alcoholic warmth and some underlying winyness (oxidized) character. The flavor starts off with some brown sugar, caramel & nougat maltinesss which is underscored by a light, earthy bitterness that brings about a moderately spicy, warming finish. Hints of sweet vanilla wafers & ginger snaps linger afterwards. The mouthfeel is quite creamy, but lighter than expected with some distracting astringency that's possibly from the spice additions. Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale adds a bit of color to your cheeks and does a fine job at keeping Old Man Winter at bay. Here's to a nice, long... cold Winter!

CHEERS! Beertracker

Trader's Note: Many thanks to super-trader CrellMoset for this fine elixir!

Beertracker, Jan 23, 2011
Photo of Jwale73
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Bucketboy for the opportunity to try this one. 22oz. bottle served in a standard pint. Pours a translucent amber with a quarter inch, loose, off-white head that quickly disperses into a thin band around the shoulders. Some strands of lacing appear during the tasting, but exhibit poor retention. Nose is somewhat muted - light to medium malt with a suggestion of spice. Taste consistent with nose with the addition of some caramel/toffee notes. The spice seems to be be nutmeg. Mouthfeel is light-medium with a lively carbonation which contributes to a semi-dry finish. All and all a pretty drinkable beer for the style. Not at all cloying with enough flavor to make this quite quaffable.

Jwale73, Jan 21, 2011
Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Notes from 01/02/2011:

22 oz. bottle at 45 degrees in a snifter.

A: This pours a completely transluscent dark brown color with red hues - much like sweet tea -and a finger and a half of slightly off-white head that does not last, nor does it lace very well.

S: Strong milk chocolate, lots of nuttiness, caramel, and bread malt. It smells like a tasty dessert.

T: Roasted nuttiness, vanilla, caramel, and an oddly perfumey aftertaste that is not entirely unpleasant.

M: It has a medium-thick body with some creaminess and long, lingering flavors.

D: I wish it would either have bolder flavors and become a sipper or have a thinner body and become quaffable. The thick body and weaker flavors combination is odd.

bucklemyshoe, Jan 12, 2011
Photo of Onenote81
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was the third installment of City Bev's Freakin' Firkin Friday. Had a pint at the store yesterday. Pours a hazy brown-tinted copper. A small off-white head caps it off. Faint lace sticks around. The nose is potent with strong notes of vanilla, nutmeg, toffee, toasted pecans. Fantastic nose.

Extremely smooth, creamy mouthfeel, as was expected with the cask. Carbonation level is minimal. Perfect sipper. Flavor profile mirrors the nose somewhat with vanilla, cinnamon, sweet malts. The spices are more muted in this version of the beer, but this is still a splendid winter dessert brew. Perfect to sip on a crisp, cold evening.

*Note: This is the first beer that I have tried from bottle, tap, and cask.

Onenote81, Jan 08, 2011
Photo of prototypic
4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
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!

prototypic, Jan 08, 2011
Photo of DefenCorps
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Woohoo! First tick for 2011. I picked this up over Thanksgiving in Asheville after being very impressed with a pint I had on tap (2010 Winter edition).

A beautiful, clear mahogany with a dense, off-white head with excellent retention, there isn't much to show for lacing apart from some patchy foam. Clarity is exceptional, this is a particularly attractive beer. The nose is great too, like I remember it being. A touch of spice is present with cinnamon and mace, I also get some brown sugar and a prominent vanilla note. The combination is dessert-like, but this still smells light. Hops are mild, there's some earthy, mildly leafy and mineral-like hop aroma present. Solid.

The palate opens with a blend of light brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon. A light but simple sweetness, a blend of brown sugar and burnt sugar is present. Notes of vanilla and maple appear in the mid-palate. Drying on the finish with the hops asserting their presence, there's a blend of earthy, leafy bitterness and lingering vanilla. Light in body with medium-high carbonation, this is an enjoyable beer. I preferred this on tap, where it was a lot creamier, but even out of a bottle, it's still the best Winter Warmer out there.

DefenCorps, Jan 04, 2011
Photo of Wolfpack2005
2.63/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A-Pours a deep clear amber color. A Brisk pour reveals a fairly impressive off white head that leaves a good amount of lacing

S-Aroma is unimpressive, dont detect too much except for a mild vanilla scent.

T-Very mild bittering hops up front. Picking up small notes of vanilla, raisin, and caramel, but the backbone of this beer seems to be some sort of a nut extract (maybe hazelnut). Not picking up any of the traditional spice that are typically in a winter warmer which is not necessarily a bad thing. Im guessing this beer is about 6-6.5% by the lack of alcohol taste that I like out of my winter WARMERS.

M-Very light with minimal carbonation.

O-IMO a sub-par beer. I cannot get past the hazelnut extract flavor that dominates the beer. I do like the fact that Highland stepped outside the bound of your traditional winter warmer. With some tweaking however i think this could be a good beer. Needs more burn.

Wolfpack2005, Jan 04, 2011
Photo of Mosstrooper
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
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!!

Mosstrooper, Jan 04, 2011
Photo of planetscott
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love the appearance of this beer. Clear ruby and garnet color. Not much aroma. Taste is different for a winter warmer and a nice change of pace. Fruity, but not in a Belgian sense. I taste pears and very faint vanilla. Mouth feel is not thick like most winter warmers....Again a nice change. Good drink ability. Not great as it is somewhat sweet.

A decent, yet different winter warmer.

planetscott, Dec 30, 2010
Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 554 ratings.