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

697 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 697
Reviews: 313
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 12.94%
Wants: 82
Gots: 107 | 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: 697 | Reviews: 313
Photo of CooperEllis
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From brentk56 in the SS'11 BIF box. This was probably my favorite of the offerings from Highland that included the E.S.B. and Christmas Ale.

This review borrows heavily from the style guide for Winter Warmer because this is one of the better I've had of the style and drinks less like an "American" and more like an "English".

"These malty sweet offerings tend to be a favorite winter seasonal. Big malt presence, both in flavor and body." This is absolutely the case here with the deep amber topped with a generous fluffy cap that leaves pleasant lacing.

This has little aroma, which is clearly going to knock the overall score, but the lack of a prominent aroma results in faint sweet malts, brown sugar and cinnamon.

The taste doesn't contain any overt spices more similar to "many English versions" which "contain no spices".

"American varieties...have a larger presences of hops both in bitterness and flavor." That isn't the case here. While there is a smooth, integrated hops presence it is not a larger presence than the malty sweetness.

Mouthfeel is even, medium bodied with a surprisingly crisp finish that owes a good deal to the trace hop bitterness that cuts any cloying sweetness or potential for lingeingr bitter/burnt spice flavors.

(146th)

Photo of jsanford
3.94/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Swing-top bottle/growler poured into a Tulip Glass.

A - Pours a beautiful dark burgundy with a dense, creamy off-white head that settles to a thin cap, leaving soapy lacing clinging to the glass.
S - Sweet malt, vanilla, and a touch of spices. Fairly diminutive nose, not much going on here, even after it's warmed a bit.
T - Cream soda in beer form. Seriously, lots of authentic vanilla cream flavor with a touch of bitter roasted malt, spices, and a slight hop finish. A very unique tasting Winter Warmer, really stands out from the crowd.
M - A bit thinner then most Winter Warmers, maybe a touch watery. Probably a bit under medium-bodied overall, with a silky-smooth mouthfeel and good carbonation.
O - A very drinkable Winter Warmer, unique with it's heavy Cream Soda character. So delicious!

Photo of jmarsh123
3.64/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a somewhat clear red-tinged brown with almost no head.

A cream soda aroma. Lots of vanilla with some caramel sweetness as well.

Tastes follows the nose. Lots of up front sweetness with a good amount of vanilla. Towards the end of the palate the cream soda aspect really comes to the forefront. There's a little bit of a metallic flavor in the aftertaste though.

This beer is a bit thin for a winter warmer and carbonation levels are good.

This is almost a great beer. I love the vanilla aspect and it smells sublime, but there are just a few minor things preventing this from being what it could. Still pretty enjoyable.

Photo of Bryson
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of kell50
4.52/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Oh Cold Mountain how I love thee. This is the pride of North Carolina Brewing and is something that us North Carolinians thirst for as the temperature drops. This review is from the 2011 version.

A: Reddish-copper color. Relatively clear with a nice looking white head and moderate lacing all the way down. A perky brew that just begs to be drunk.

S: Not a ton of aroma off the nose. Perhaps a few mild spices, i.e. vanilla, nutmeg, malts and a small undertone of hops.

T: Amazing. There's a great vanilla/cream soda thing going on here. Add in some great malts and a dash of hops and this is one fine beer! This particular version (2011) is a bit sweeter and less hoppier than the previous year. The balance of flavor is what makes this winter warmer an absolute winner.

M: Great taste. Very full-bodied with a nicely balanced malt/hop taste. As this beer slighty warms the vanilla and spice flavor becomes even more prominent. I've never had a beer quite like it.

O: This is an Outstanding beer. Highly drinkable and it's a must to split with friends. Do yourself a favor and seek it out.

Photo of ryancuth
4.94/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is probably the best beer that comes from Highland Brewery, one of my favorite breweries in North Carolina, let alone anywhere. It's only a winter seasonal so if you see it, definitely buy a few because it' won't be out long.

It has a wonderful dark caramel color and balanced vanilla-caramel-malty smell. The taste (to me) is best described as a fuller and more bodied cream soda. Yes, beer that tastes like cream soda. It's amazing.

Buy this beer, you will not be disappointed.

Photo of Apellonious
3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1 pt 6 fl oz

A- Dark amber with fluorescent highlights, it poured a frothy head that hung on the side of the glass

S - Dark berries, cascade hops, cinnamon

T - Wow. Slight left turn from the aroma. Malty, vanilla notes are up front, with a mild hop finish, and then the vanilla again with the aftertaste. There is another baking type spice present, maybe some brown sugar. At times it tasted like Dr Pepper.

M - slightly creamy, a touch on the flat side carbonation wise, could have benefited from some more hop bite.

D - drinkable to a point, moderate alcohol doesn't wallop you like some of the 9-10%ers, one of these with or post meal would hit the spot.If you don't mind some sweetness in your beer, and can tolerate the slight Dr. Pepper vibe, I would recommend it.

Photo of Gehrig
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at the outstanding Independent in Seminole Heights, FL.

A thick, pillowy finger of off-white foam atop a clear brown body with ruby trim. Good lacing and nice head duration make a good first impression. Fine aroma filled with raspberry, a whiff of milk chocolate, and lots of spice, primarily ginger and cinnamon.

The taste is flat-out delicious, very fruity and sweeter in taste than the nose indicates. There is raspberry but certainly cherry as well, a sweet start complemented with toasted malt, chocolate, and a bit of vanilla bean in the finish.

This is a unique warmer in that Cold Mountain differs from many warmers in its sweeter flavor base. Plus, the texture is not nearly as heavy as other warmers. It is mild, smooth, but with a complex flavor and delicious flavor base, an exceptional accessibility, and a creamy smooth mouthfeel that makes quaffing Cold Mountain incredibly easy.

Cold Mountain was quite a revelation, a great way to start an evening of beers with friends tonight. A distinct winter warmer, be prepared for a different, enjoyable take on this style. Very delicious.

Photo of samtallica
4.16/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Bomber into Sam Adam's Perfect Pint.

A: Brilliantly clear, dark amber with a small off white head.

S: Caramel malts and vanilla, some vague hops and spices in the background.

T: Cocoa Pebbles. Seriously, this beer tastes exactly like cocoa pebbles. That is not a bad thing at all, but it is slightly one dimensional. Not sure if previous years were different. Surprisingly this is the first time I've had this beer.

M: Medium-low carbonation with a medium body.

O: I just can't help but think Cocoa Pebbles. I liked Cocoa Pebbles as a kid though, so it takes me back a bit. I'm definitely a fan just because I've never experienced this flavor in a beer before. It's interesting and new to me.

Photo of GregSVT
3.71/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a tulip

A: Pours a clear dark amber with a nice off-white head that fades to a ring and leaves some lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is pretty faint but there are minimal amounts of sweet malt, vanilla, and a hint of cinnamon.

T: The taste is much better with nice flavors of vanilla, sweet malt, and a slight cinnamon flavor. Pretty flavorful on the palate for such a low ABV beer.

M: The feel is slightly creamy and on the lower side of medium bodied. Not typical for the style and a bit more body could make this one better.

O: The vanilla and spices really save this one from mediocrity but it could use more body. I'd probably have this one again if it was offered in TX.

Photo of n2185
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark, clear copper with two fingers of beige head that recedes into a thin ring with a little lacing.

S: Lots of creamy vanilla aromas with some light spice and caramel notes. Smells like a cream soda.

T: Some caramel malt flavors at first with light cinnamon and other spice notes. Creamy vanilla follows along with some nutty flavors as well. Roasted malt characters also peek through, bringing a slight bitterness.

M: Medium body with lowish carbonation, this beer is a bit on the watery side.

O: A decent beer that reminds me a lot of cream soda. I enjoy it fairly well, but it's not terribly complex and the watery body is a bit off-putting.

Photo of rangerred
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber into a pint glass.

Pours a clear dark reddish brown with just a tiny tan head.

Smells of caramel, malt and spice. Some cinnamon and orange. No detectable hop aroma.

The taste is much like the smell although caramel and toffee come through quite strong. There is also an orange flavor that fades to an assertive hop bitterness although it is not too severe.

Overall this is an excellent beer and one of the best examples of the style that I have had. While I do feel it could use a little more alcohol to add warmth, the body does not suffer due to it only being 5.8%. I will definitely seek this beer out again.

Photo of cosmicevan
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

had this one for a while, think this is last year's version?

a - opened the bottle and filled my unibroue tulip. the beer poured a deep golden brown with a finger full of frothy off white head. when held to the light had a reddish tint. lacing was chunky and hung out. looks great.

s - candied raisins and plums. all malt. very nice. a bit thin.

t - a malt bomb for sure. grapes. nuts. subdued plums. tail of watery bitterness at the end but not much. biscuity.

m - a bit on the thin and watery side.

o - overall kind of wee heavy like but the feel is much thinner.

Photo of VncentLIFE
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I used a pilsner flute for this one. Pours a deep caramel with an eggshell head. decent carbonation.

Smells sweet, very sweet and full of buiscut malt. a touch of bittering hops. touches of cinnamon and vanilla.

Tastes like a cookie. Buiscut malt is really the main flavor here. And it dominates. Light body. As for spices, I get cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and somehow ginger. there is a bit of a dry bitterness that I associate with cranberries. All that sweetness is kept in check by the cranberries and a touch of bittering hops.

The buiscut malt leaves a powdery feeling while all the spices tingle the tongue. Well put together, and worth the search.

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.

Photo of Urbancaver
3.86/5  rDev -4%
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.

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.

Photo of JayS2629
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

Photo of AlexFields
4.52/5  rDev +12.4%
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

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.06/5  rDev -23.9%
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!

Photo of LiquidBread219
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

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.

Photo of sommersb
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

Photo of TheDTrain
3.12/5  rDev -22.4%
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.

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 697 ratings.