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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

309 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 309
Hads: 709
Avg: 4
pDev: 13.25%
Wants: 87
Gots: 117 | 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: 309 | Hads: 709
Photo of bwiles
4.27/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Great combination of raspberry, cranberry and vanilla. It has a slight taste of cinnamon and hops. Smooth, creamy taste without an after taste. It has a good spicy smell which is pleasant. I like Cold Mountain as a good winter Ale. Highland has done a good job with this one.

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Photo of CHADMC3
4.29/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a walnut brown body with a semi-foamy, semi-creamy, deep tan head packed with dense bubbles of carbonation giving way to a pleasant sticky lacing to match.

This is a very unique balance of hop bitterness and sweet caramel malt in the aroma. Almost a candy like quality to the aroma as well as dark fruits, perhaps raisins, and even a little cream or vanilla. As the beer warms the spice becomes more apparent to the nose.

The palate is equally interesting, but very different than what the aroma suggested. Much more sweet malt, caramel, molasses, vanilla, possibly cocoa and sweet nuts, and a hint of spices, all which hide the faint hop bitterness.

Medium to full in body, creamy, just a bit of spice, and medium carbonation. This is a hearty winter brew.

Thanks to my sister for getting this to me as a present from NC, this was a great beer. I'm enjoying it a little late in the season, but I will be requesting this again in the future. One of the better examples of the style I have had in a while.

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Photo of russpowell
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big props to Ddarden for this one, I really wanted to try this when I went back to NC last summer, but alas much like the winter snow, it was long gone.

Pours caramel/auburn with 4+ fingers of pillowy sand-colored head. Above average lacing & head retention

S: Slight toffee & caramel notes& a little vanilla as this warms

T: Toffee & hints of grain & vanilla upfront. Caramel, toasted malt & huge breadyness show up as this warms along with a little herbal hop bite. Brown sugar, choclate & more vanilla show up in the warming/bready finish

MF: Medium bodied & very smooth & low/low carbonation

Drinks so easy, a really pleasant winter warmer. One I think I could session on. I'll buy this if I ever see it again!

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this via trade! Seems this was the 05 version which differs from the 06. Many people seem to be on either side as to which year is better. My take - this is one of the more intriguing winter warmers I've had in recent memory. I am very happy to have gotten 2 so I can enjoy the other on another evening.

A - Rich red color, frothy white head takes a while to dissipate.
S- A combination of toffee, vanilla and tea. Malty but with a dry character.
T - Similar to the aroma but so much more complex. This one toys with your taste buds!
M - Medium bodied, nicely carbonated and dry in the finish.
D - Easy drinking, tasty drinking, Yes I'll have another. A winter brew that even at 22oz has you considering a second bottle.

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Photo of cvstrickland
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 22-ounce bomber bottle poured into a small tulip glass yields a bell-clear red-bronze body with a thin, creamy cap of pale ecru foam atop. The head retains at a thin collar that leaves freckles of lacing scattered about the glass.

The smell is spicy and malty sweet with toasted notes of medium-dark malts, molasses-drizzled equine sweet feed, crystallized brown sugar, wet cocoa, and maple syrup.

The taste is quite sweet and pretty spicy with a substantial, mellow, toffee-malty backbone. Fragrant mild curry spice and a crisp, lightly alkaline hop bitterness keep rich malty notes of thin caramel, buttery toffee, and fluffy milk chocolate in hand, and a floral spiciness becomes increasingly aromatic and flavorful as the drink warms. A note of sweetened mocha appears late in the encounter, lending a succulent porter-like quality to the drink.

Highland's Cold Mountain Winter Ale is medium-bodied with tingly carbonation, smoothness to spare, and superb drinkability. A nice brew I'd enjoy any time of year.

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Photo of Deuane
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Thirsty Monk South.

A-Bright brownish copper with a medium tan head. Head reduces to a thin cap and leaves nice thick, rope like lacing

S-Wafting notes of chocolate, with accenting vanilla, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. All of this melds very nicely and does not overwhelm.

T-Semi-sweet caramel along with some drying cocoa/chocolate malts up front. A potpourri blend backing with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, cedar and orange making this one feel like a Christmas cookie in a glass!

M-Medium bodied and fairly rich without being sickly sweet or too spicy, Long lingering flavour profile.

D-One of my most favorite spiced winter brews. A near perfect combination of malt and spice that makes this one SO easy to drink!

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Photo of Vancer
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From brentk56 in a nice trade – thanks man!

Let me just start off and say – what a freakin’ superb winter ale! THIS is what a warmer should be, geez what a tasty treat!

Started off with a great pour – clear and beautiful mahogany brown, ivory head that just coats the ol’ Cordendonk tulip.

Almost sneezed from all the winter spices in the aroma. But the taste is where this one leaves others behind. It’s all there; chocolate, vanilla, coffee, nutmeg with a massive spicy malt backbone driving the whole load.

Drinks like a fine cognac, glad I have a 1L hammer bottle of this great brew.

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Photo of Bryson
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

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Photo of Paincane
4.31/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Copper amber body with a pretty and creamy tan head. Excellent head retention and lacing.
S: Complex nose including spices and malt aromas. Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice notes.
T: Molasses, cinnamon, sweet malt & nutmeg flavors.
M: Smooth, creamy and warming.
O: Great winter warmer.

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Photo of wedge
4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep brownish red with a fluffy, soapy head. Smells exactly like frosting covered gingerbread cookies...wow. Sweet malty flavor nicely layered with ginger and other spices - mapley figs. Rich and complex. Solid mouthfeel with a fullish body and light carbonation. Pretty darn tasty winter ale...excellent on tap as well if you can find it.

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Photo of thaichile
4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. 22oz. Pours a deep red with hardly any head. Scents of spice on the nose. Delicious spiced fruit cake with some marshmellows and vanilla flavoring. Maybe my favorite winter to this point. Can't wait to have it again. Thanks to derrickt007 for the bottle.

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Photo of Mosstrooper
4.32/5  rDev +8%
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!!

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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 Tuckieman
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours rich amber color with a nice tan colored head that subsides slowing with mild lacing remaining on the glass and slight clumping once head subsides. Aroma of malts, slight hops with vanilla and hints of inter spices of cloves and cinnamon. Mouth is what is hoped for and expected with a winter warmer. Initial hit on the palate of slight hops with a vanilla mid and a light malty finish. Always one of my favorites during the winter.

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Photo of JayS2629
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

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Photo of avalon07
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to an imperial pint glass. Had an amber color and a slightly hazy consistency. There was a small amount of foamy head that quickly dissipated and good lacing.

S: A nice aroma of sweet malt, spices and a somewhat fruity quality.

T: Tasted of malt, cinnamon, some other spices, and mild fruit (at least that's what it seemed like to me). Nicely balanced, clean flavor.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a very dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: A very good winter warmer. Extremely drinkable.

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Photo of RedneckBeerz
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a Shiner Bohemian Black Lager pint and the brew is a nice clear amber/red color with a 1/2" lightish tan head. As this beer is consumed it produces ringed lacing on the pint.

The smell is heavy sweet malts and cinnamon.

The taste is sweetness from the malts and cinnamon with no bitterness or alcohol to speak of.

Medium mouth feel and lowish carbination help to produce some stickyness on the corners of the lips.

This is probably one of the sweeter beers that I have tryed to this point in my world beer tour, but it is my opinion that it is pretty spot on as far as style description goes.

I would highly recommend this beer to anyone wanting to find a great English Winter Warmer, but for me this style is a little to sweet to seek out. Perhaps with dessert this would be great, but as a cold weather sipper I'd look for another style.

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Photo of beerinator
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Nice reddish brown color. Off white tan head with awesome head retention. Nice solid bubbles.

Aroma: Roasted nut and cherry present in the aroma. Ammaretto/almond noted in the nose. Solid sweetness, very little in the way of hop noted.

Taste: Initial taste is solid sweetness. Sweet cherry melds with a bit of nuttiness. Ammaretto present in the taste as well as aroma. Solid mouthfeel. Very little sourness or bitterness present here.

Notes: This beer is begging for North Carolina's abv laws to change. I think it's a good beer now, but the depth in both the aroma and taste is impressive for a beer under 6%. One of Highlands strongest offerings.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to KilgoreTrout27 for this beer. Been wanting to try it for a while now.

A: Amber mahagony, clean and refined with a few dozen lazy streams up bubbles rising to the surface. Head has a good consistency to it, sort of a sandy color.

S: Cherries, molasses, butterscotch and marshmallow.

T: A lot of vanilla and butterscotch up front. Not at the level that its cloying or overbearing, a nice level. Delicate cherries, strawberries and perhaps apricot add an underlying fruity flavor. As it warms the spices start to come out; sasparilla and cinnamon primarily. Very doughy as well, this is almost like drinking a liquid christmas cookie. A very faint hop bite can be found in the finish, just enough to add more depth. Aftertaste is long lingering cookie dough and of course...vanilla/butterscotch.

M: Medium body, full and silky mouthfeel.

D: This beer could have gone either way. With that much vanilla/butterscotch flavor it could easilly be cloying, artificial or overbearing. The fact that I killed an entire 22oz without the sugar weighing on me speaks volumes. One of the more under rated winter warmers on the market, a beer that doesn't get much publicity. Its very similar to the Winter Solstice from Anderson Valley but blows it out of the water. This was probably the second best domestic winter warmer I had this year.

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Photo of Gehrig
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

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Photo of VncentLIFE
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

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Photo of kell50
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I just love using the word "mahogany" when describing a beer so I'm happy to say this beer pours a clear deep mahogany color with a dense one finger tan head. The crown dies off after a while and doesn't leave much in the way of lacing on the inside of the glass.

The aroma is out of this world with exotic spices and warm, comforting notes. There's a clear vanilla note along with coriander and a fruit or two all riding on a deep caramel-thick sweet note.

The flavor is complex, balanced and (thankfully) far from overly sweet. There's a clean caramel note at the base with hints of apple, raspberry and peach adding quite a bit of depth. On top of that is an interesting blend of spices including nutmeg, coriander and allspice. There's also a bit of spruce in the flavorings with an almost bubblegum like note. There are enough flavors in each sip that you keep going back because you know there's one more that you missed in the last sip.

Mouthfeel is spot-on. Despite the tendency towards sweetness this is a medium bodied brew with no cloying mouthfeel and enough carbonation to liven up each sip. While there's not really any hop present in the aroma or flavor, there's a reasonable amount of bittering at the end of each sip leaving a nice dry finish. I know Highland is increasing the ABV now that the cap has been lifted in NC but there's no hint of alcohol burn or sweetness anywhere in this brew.

All in all this is a very flavorful brew and one more reason why I like winter seasonals so much. It's not something I'd want to drink as an 'everyday' brew but as something special that comes around once a year, this is certainly something special.

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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 BamaBeerBuff
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a gorgeous copper-ruby color with a thick, creamy light brown head. Sheets of sticky lace are everywhere. Great appearance for a WW

S: Nose showcases some light cocoa, a touch of caramel, hints of vanilla and other delicate spices. A very subtle and enjoyable aroma.

T&M: Fantastic flavor. An initial rush of vanilla creme is met with a light nutmeg spice and a lovely toffee flavor. Light earthy hop flavor comes in on the finish to balance things out very nicely. This is just a wonderfully balanced winter beer. Body is creamy, yet thin enough to remain drinkable.

D: A great brew. Fantastic flavor, balance, and a moderate body for the style. I went through the bomber quickly and will most definitely seek out one of the swingtop bottles soon.

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 309 ratings.