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Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...
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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

308 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 308
Hads: 700
rAvg: 4
pDev: 12.25%
Wants: 85
Gots: 112 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 308 | Hads: 700
Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.92/5  rDev -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. (716 characters)

Photo of RyanC84
3.92/5  rDev -2%
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. (1,070 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow, was I shocked when I walked into the Oasis liquor store and saw a couple corked and wrapped liter bottles of this sitting on the shelf yesterday. This is the one local winter brew I was just never able to track down a bottle of and never go around to going down to get it on tap. I immediatly grabbed a couple and drove home and put one in the fridge for when I got home later that night. Pulled the bottle from the fridge and unwrapped the top. Pop the gasket and it was indeed still frsh, the sound of the pop let you know that immediatly. I don't know why I had wanted to try this, from the reviews it seemed just a standard winter warmer, but for some reason I was always wanted it, perhaps it was the novelty of the liter corked bottle that I always wanted, but alas I have it and on to the drinking....

A - This poured a deep hazelnut brown, very dark color with a bit of a rustic red tone mixed in. I nice one inch or so off white head formed on the top and quickly nestled into a thin film, that glazed over the top of the glass. Very thick lace was left behind as the glass was emptied. A nice clear appearence wa evident even though it was soo dark, and streams of bubbles could be seen breaking towards the surface from the bottom of the glass. Overall it looked as I had expected, a nice color and consitency for your typical winter beer.

S - First aromas to hit the nose were undeniably Vanilla, and lots of it for sure. once you got past that there was a nice earthy like tone, with hints of an oakish quality with a mix of cinnamon and maybe some nutmeg. Not much of a hop presence here at all, rather the lack of it made this very intresting. Had your classic yule time smell and brought me back a little, If not for the 95 degree heat I would turned on the fireplace to set the mood.

T - Very big flavor here was evident from the very first sip. Big vanilla oak chips almost completely over rule all others until the flavor settles down. I almost could swear this was an oak agen beer, as I picked up that kinda taste almost immediatly. Lots of caramel and cinnamon tones start to come through as it gets a little warmer. A nice full flavor profile. THere is definatly no watering down of the flavors here. The vanilla and oak came on a little strong for me and never really backed off enough for me to fully enjoy this. No ABV listed for this, and I could not find anything online, but there was no hint of it detected. If I had to guess I would put it in the 6-8% range, probably in the lower part as it did not feel that strong. Overall a very full winter flavored brew, perhaps a bit too much vanilla.

M - very very full. A very rich creamy like feel, this really filled me up quick, and I did not realize it would be that way, as I was the only one drinking and had this whole liter to drink now. Was not oily, nor very crisp. The flavors were allowed to really show themselves through ample carbonation.

D- At first this was really very drinkable, however the large amount of vanilla and oak put into it really started to build up after a while and make it hard to finish. This bottle would have been great to split between about 3 people, but by yourself, one of these is enough. Not too say its bad at all, it is a very good brew, but the flavor will wear you down after a while.

Overall this was a little bit bigger then I had expected. I would not say it dissapointed me, not at all. On a cold night I would love to throw one of these back. In fact, I really look forward to the first autumn chill, and will have to invite over the family to crack the other bottle I purchased. But as an all winter long session beer, a bit too strong for that. All and all, a good brew, with some nice inginuity from the boys over at highland. The quality of the brewing going on in Western Noth Carolina continues to impress me. I always appreciate thinking outside the box, and also, in cases like this where you just put you own twist on a classic warmer, well done, and definatly worth a try. (4,037 characters)

Photo of cosmicevan
3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
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. (570 characters)

Photo of hwwty4
3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jtrockchalk's aversion to winter warmers for this one, and to his Secret Santa.

Poured a double deuce into my Tripel Karmeliet tulip. This beer pours a light tan-ish brown with a 2 inch head that leaves a pretty decent lacing down the sides of my tulip. The aroma is really not like many winter warmers that I have had the opportunity to try. It's more on the camel, toffee, vanilla side then on any of the spicy, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove spices. The flavor follows suit with big vanilla and toffee notes, with just a hint of watered down coffee. The mouthfeel is just about perfect for where I think a winter warmer should be. Nice and full, and leaves a nice oily texture on the palate. This is a good beer but not one that I would really consider a winter warmer. (777 characters)

Photo of Bitterbill
3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Obtained in a trade with Brentk56. Thanks a bunch!!

To start off, I have the 1L taped swing top bottle ...it's very cool looking.

It pours into my New Belgium chalice a very nice amber with a smallish head of foam. It doesn't stick around very long and I'm left with just a ring around the edge of the glass and there's just a tiny bit of lacing.

The smell...I'm getting a huge whiff of vanilla, malt, and some other spices.

The taste is also very big on the vanilla with a nice burnt caramel malt backing it up. Swishing the Ale in mouth, I get a bit of citrus tartness and some chocolate notes and that has me smacking my mouth. This is a very unusual tasting sample of the style and I'm liking it.

The finish is on the bitterish side with flavours of hot cocoa and it leaves a pleasing long lasting aftertaste. I'm not getting too much warming so either the abv is fairly low or it's really well hidden. A *very* nice drop indeed. I'm glad I got this one in the trade. :^) (991 characters)

Photo of jsanford
3.94/5  rDev -1.5%
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! (799 characters)

Photo of Beertracker
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
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! (1,097 characters)

Photo of sholland119
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this '07 vintage in a growler from Loki in GatM. Thanks, Kipp.

A-Pours a clear ruby amber with a thin tan head and no lacing.

S-Sweet caramel malt, a bit of toffee and a little alcohol warmth.

T-Sweet caramel, brown sugar and some raisin with a little bit of nutmeg. Very nice.

M-Medium bodied, almost a bit thin for the style.

D-Tasty, very nicely aged. I will enjoy the rest of this growler.

HV (406 characters)

Photo of drabmuh
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
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. (1,091 characters)

Photo of guinnessdoc
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep red, rust color with a 1/2 inch tan head that fell away quickly to a thin layer.

The aroma was an interesting mixture of fruit, spice, and a vague hint of liquor. I want to say there's something else there but I can't say what it is.

I guess I should have been ready for lots of flavor but this one really surprised me. A complex blend of orange, spices, and malt that combined, come across as very sweet with a bitter finish.

Definitely a lighter mouthfeel than I expected from the big aroma and flavor but smooth and slightly creamy.

As for the drinkability, UncleFlip put it best when he said, "I had to keep taking sips to keep finding more flavours in it." How true. For me, the bomber I had tonight was just the right amount. (757 characters)

Photo of thain709
3.96/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not sure the age of this one because it came from Deuane's basement.

A - Poured a clear copper...not much else to the color...a big, creamy, two finger head formed and slowly fell to a full cap...it was light brown in color...sheets of lacing were left behind

S - I would have liked more out of the aroma...what was there was some strong caramel and light vanilla...when it was cold there was a soapy aroma coming out

T - The caramel flavoring in this beer was a great touch...it was soft, dark, and tasted like candy...paired with the caramel was a sweet vanilla...the two of them together created just a hint of cream soda...wow, really...the finish provides sweet caramel with just a touch roast

M - Medium bodied...the soft carbonation makes this one smooth and just a touch creamy...sweet

O - This was a nice surprise...I wasn't sure how this one was going to hold up, but I'd have another from the basement...the cream soda aspect was a nice touch...great caramel and vanilla flavors (994 characters)

Photo of Slatetank
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
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. (850 characters)

Photo of bboven
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear, dark brown with very little head and nearly no lacing.

Heavy aroma of fig and raisin and a little sharp alcohol.

This is one of those beers that tastes much different than it smells. There's a roast, crisp chocolate taste to this beer that's unlike anything I've ever tasted. There's a bit of dark fruit and bitter, but it hits you at the end and plays only a small role.

Pretty high carbonation which lends to the crisp flavor. A refreshing winter warmer?

At first I though this would be a pretty low to average beer judging by the look and smell of it. The flavor is out of this world, though. I recommend it. (622 characters)

Photo of scarfield
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
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. (400 characters)

Photo of bort11
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received from BRoss242 as part of the BA Secret Santa '07.

Poured into a Corsendonk Christmas Ale glass (also from BRoss242). Tight tan colored head that stands a 1/4 inch. Recedes gradually and leaves an interesting web of lacing on the glass. Color is a dark chestnut brown color.

Smell has a strong malt presence with a smooth blend of spices. I smell nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. Taste also has a smooth spice with a mild hop bitterness in the back.

Mouthfeel is a little light for a winter warmer, but it does go down very smoothly. Even and mild carbonation and slightly sticky on the lips. The ABV also seems a little mild for a warmer, but it seems to enhance drinkability. It would be nice to session this. (719 characters)

Photo of cjgator3
3.99/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bottle

A- Pours a dark brown color with a light tan colored head that leaves sporadic lacing around the glass.

S- The aroma is nice and malty with a good dose of cocoa and spices. I'm surprised at the amount of cocoa in the aroma, it really adds a nice dimension. The aroma is fantastic and immediately reminds me of the holidays.

T- The taste is a little on the sweet side with a lot of malt and cocoa flavors but there are just enough spices in the taste to help balance the sweetness out.

M- The mouthfeel is a little lighter than I would expect from a winter warmer.

D- This one's pretty drinkable, I'd be interested to find out what the ABV of this beer is. It doesn't seem to be all that high so it is a pretty solid drinker. (742 characters)

Photo of mrkrispy
3.99/5  rDev -0.2%
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! (602 characters)

Photo of argock
3.99/5  rDev -0.2%
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. (1,338 characters)

Photo of badbeer
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark red color with an off-white head that retains well and gives good lacing. Wonderful smells of cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg, and caramel. I'm digging the taste. It's got a little bit of hoppyness for balance, but this mostly tastes like cinnamon-sugar bread with a little bit of allspice and a caramel finish. Carbonation is on the higher side and body is bordering light. I'm very happy with this beer and will need to get more of it next winter. Great job, Highland! (477 characters)

Photo of yankeeheel
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a medium ruddy brown with a nicley proportioned, inch high, cream coloreed head. Smells weakly citrus and raisin like.Starts off slightly caustic when cold but changes over to a more well rounded fruity malt profile. Brown sugar, cinnamon, raisin, and cough syrup come to mind. Finishes sweetly with an underlying astringency that gives it some backbone. Moderate mouthfeel. A very nice winter brew. Hope I can get an 05 version to sample.

Thanks to GCBrewingCo for the sample. (486 characters)

Photo of glid02
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours a clear "old-penny" copper color with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of light caramel malts with hints of toffee and good amounts of vanilla. As the beer warms the vanilla aromas intensify.

Tastes good. Mild caramel malt flavors up front are quickly joined by hints of toffee and large amounts of vanilla flavors. Midway through the sip a touch of leafy hop flavors enter into things before fading into the background to make way for a mildly sweet finish.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a smooth thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I didn't have a problem finishing my glass and could have another.

Overall this is lighter on spices than many winter warmers however I have to say that I enjoy it more than many winter warmers. Well worth a shot. (894 characters)

Photo of dvmin98
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opened a quart bottle w/ ceramic stopper

A: Deep copperish hue/ small, lacy head

S: Vanilla, maple, spices

T: As soon as I put my lips to the glass, all the vanilla hit me like a mac truck. Holy crud. To be honest, it was almost overwhelming at first, but I got used to it and enjoyed it.

M: Not very carbonated; very smooth

O: I liked this beer a lot, but after 1 1/2 pints, I was ready to move on (404 characters)

Photo of Jredner
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is complex and hard to crack. There is some marzipan (with light almonds), cocoa, white cake, lots of subtle fruit notes and a very bready maltiness. Color is amber with a rich, creamy tan head. Fore is full of sweet candied fruits (raspberry, cherry dominate) and that is followed by more sweet malts. Chocolate and cherry linger in the aftertaste. It’s simply tasty and approachable. Would be a great holiday beer to give to frieds. (441 characters)

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 (611 characters)

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 308 ratings.