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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

310 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 310
Hads: 714
Avg: 4
pDev: 13%
Wants: 89
Gots: 120 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Highland Brewing visit their website
North Carolina, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.80% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: RBorsato on 11-25-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 310 | Hads: 714
Photo of brother_kenneth
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, poured into two snifter glasses.

A- Pours a nice deep amber / red. Not a lot of head, but honestly the best lacing I have ever seen. Seriously, this is a beautiful beer!

S- Could be that it needed to warm up a bit, but I didn't get a whole lot on the nose. This is a fairly mild beer though, so that probably explains it. Nonetheless, some vanilla and spices were noticeable.

T- The main thing here for me is the vanilla. Like other reviewers, the first time I had this one, I expected big spices like you usually find in a winter beer. Not the case here. It is mainly vanilla, with some spices in the background. It is somewhat malty, and there is definitely an nice carbonated mouthfeel.

O- This is an exceptional winter beer and I am surprised how much I like it. It is fairly light-weight, all things considered, but it is just the perfect taste! Really enjoy it and intend to drink many more this season!

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Photo of Axnjxn
3.84/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

rereview 12oz bottle into a FW tulip. 10/30/13 bottling date consumed 3 weeks later.

Pours a dark amber color with a nice inch thick head. Aroma is almost nonexistent...maybe a tad of caramel? not much at all. The taste is quite different though...a bit sweet with a good amount of caramel and toffee flavors that linger on the palate for quite awhile. Biggest thing about this beer is its drinkability...you could drink it all day and in a hurry... almost light bodied with mild carbonation.

Overall this is an old favorite among North Carolinian's and honestly shouldnt get such high marks nowadays. Its still good, just not amazing.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.39/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle
Served in a perfect pint

A - It is copper colored with amber highlights. I think it had an inch of tan head. It was gone so quick that I missed it.

S - I was surprised to get a noseful of chocolate and caramel. It smells like a candy bar.

T - The taste matches the smell with intensity and ingredients.

M - Medium

O - This beer tasted nothing like I expected. I expected the typical nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, etc. It is loaded with intense chocolate and caramel. I'm surprised how flavorful this beer is considering it's a winter warmer and this is June. I would drink the shit out of this each winter if I were in the distribution area.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a clear rusty amber with almost no head. The nose is a tremendous caramel and a slight woodiness (maple). The taste is just as sweet with almost no spice and almost no carbonation after sitting a few minutes. There is almost no alcohol present either. Overall it's an interesting beer to have mid summer, but it's not too bad.

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear, dark copper with carbonation. A one-inch creamy manila head lasts a while leaving a fine coating of lace.

There is lots of caramel malt with sweet tea and brown sugar. Warming brings out cocoa. More warming intensifies cocoa.

This one is very similar to sweet tea on entry, powdered hot chocolate mix immediately follows. The finish is short and modest.

A medium body with soft, prickly carbonation and no alcohol. This one has light astringency and a smooth texture.

This is a good beer for a cool afternoon. Have a couple while relaxing.

This one is far better if allowed to warm!

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Photo of BeerDawgs
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 22oz bottle, picked up after enjoying it on cask at a festival

A - A dark amber/copper color, with some clarity. 1 finger of head, nice sticky lacing on the glass

S - Spices, and malt character. A little light on the aroma front.

T - Caramel and vanilla spices. Low hop character. Very smooth though. Enjoyable.

M - Light bodied and fairly light carbonated.

O - An enjoyable winter warmer on a cold rainy day

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

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass

A - Dark copper. Yields a two finger creamy off-white head. Excellent lacing.

S - Roasted malts produce caramels and hints of vanilla. Even a slight dark fruit smell simmilar to raisins. Floral hops present.

T - Lightly roasted malt producing a predominately caramel flavor. Odd slightly sour note in the middle that throws off the taste. Hops there but mainly detected in the nose.

M - Medium bodied. Moderate carbonation. Easy drinking.

O - This is a highly drinkable winter warmer. I tend to like beers in this style to have a little more body, but this is a great beer nonetheless. Light caramel flavors and none too rich.

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Photo of tdm168
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber with a soft layer of white head that has little retention. The nose offers some mild spice and some intense vanilla extract notes. The flavor is much the same; the vanilla dominates with some subtle spices and a little fruitiness throughout. The fruitiness is cherry-like, both tart and sweet. The finish is a little medicinal to me. I think it's the combination of vanilla and fruit. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and lightly carbonated, but it's viscous and syrupy at times.

I'm glad that this isn't just another winter warmer with ginger and cinnamon. I like the fruitiness here, but I find the medicinal off notes in the finish a little unpleasant. I probably wouldn't have this again, but I do like what they were going for with this one.

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Photo of DaPan
3.55/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours a clear amber color, no head to speak of, thin lacing and no retention.

Brown sugar, candy, and vanilla on the nose. Good start.

Taste is decent, same as above. Medium mouthfeel, low carbonation. Slides down really smooth.

Was anticipating more with this one with all the hype. All in all a solid brew, good quality.

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Photo of shand
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

This beer pours a beautiful deep red color with a tiny head that laces very well. Aroma is sweet and spicy, with a solid amount of vanilla, sweet malts, and holiday spices. The taste is absolutely delicious, with a large amount of hazelnut/cream soda flavor on the tongue that I really didn't expect among the sweet malts, vanilla and spices that I did expect. It's perfectly balanced with the spices coming in a bit stronger on the finish to stop the overall impression from being too sweet. The mouthfeel is slick and with a perfect level of carbonation, and the drinkability is very good. Overall, this is an absolutely fantastic winter warmer. I'm glad I know a store that still has some of these left, because I'm going back for more.

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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

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Photo of cps98
3.33/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this as an extra from a trade. Never had anything from Highland so I was excited to try it.

A – Dark brown in color with a nice 2 finger off white head.

S – Mild cinnamon and spice notes, some caramel in there too.

T – Heavy cinnamon and spice up front. Caramel and malty sweetness after that.

M – Light to medium bodied a little bite. Carbonation seemed to be a little on the low side.

O – Nothing overly exciting to report about this beer. Drinkable but not really my cup-o-tea.

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Photo of DCon
4.21/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on-tap @ Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria in Asheville, NC for $4.50. Tapped from an unknown tap handle (since sitting @ a table) into a 16oz Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria Pint Glass.

Aroma- Has a ton of caramel aroma and nice malt behind it. Not too strong but sometimes it doesn't hit until the taste in this style.

Appearance- Received with a 2 finger, frothy head that lasts for an unreal time.

Flavor- This brew starts with light spices and a dominant caramel flavor! VERY smooth and has a sweet finish. Can't get much better than this.

Mouthfeel- Medium Bodied, Light Carbonation, Lacy on the palate, and great smoothness!

Overall Impression- Fantastic! Not as strong as most Winter Warmers, but ALL of the attributes of this one made up for it. If given two words to describe this one, it would be Creamy Caramel. Get your hands on this one!

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Photo of GallowsThief
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 1 pint 6 oz bottle into my tulip.

A – Poured out a dark ruby brown with an inch of white head that receded quickly.

S – Nice soft vanilla aroma. Cinnamon and some nutmeg. Caramel malt. Bit of spiciness

T – Very nice sweet caramel malt. Light vanilla. Has almost a vanilla bean ice cream taste. Cinnamon and nutmeg like the smell. Rich tasting that has a lot of pumpkin pie flavoring. Berries. Some bitterness at the end.

M – Medium bodied with a lively mouthfeel. Good carbonation. Creamy and smooth.

O – This is a wonderful brew. Great complex flavors and tastes. Easy to drink. Winner.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.16/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Single finger head with nice lacing on a clear amber body. Aroma is mild, mostly sweet caramel malt and a touch of burnt toast. Flavor is a little syrup like/ molasses on a spIcy caaramel malt background. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Overall not as good as I was hoping for. Almost had a cough syrup like note.

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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 mustang70
5/5  rDev +25%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

poured into a Guinness pint.

A . a nice red color that reminds me of a Scottish ale. a nice 2 finger tan head that dissipates quickly leaving good lacing on the glass.

S. I am getting raspberry and cranberry, some malt sweetness. it smells amazing. not what I expected.

T. the raspberry and cranberry hit me right away. I am also tasting bubble gum. some sweetness with the malts and fruit. a little bitterness hits me in the back of the throat. very warming.

M. it has a medium body with little carbonation. feels good on the palate.

O. I really enjoyed this beer. it was not what I was expecting from an american version. most others are more bitter. this one I would buy multiple times well worth it.

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Photo of CooperEllis
3.88/5  rDev -3%
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.


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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!

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Photo of jmarsh123
3.64/5  rDev -9%
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.

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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 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 ryancuth
4.94/5  rDev +23.5%
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.

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Photo of Apellonious
3.78/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

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