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

696 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 696
Reviews: 313
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 13.18%
Wants: 83
Gots: 108 | 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: 696 | Reviews: 313
Photo of humuloner22
3.44/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This one has gotten a lot of attention, especially around the holidays, I have tried it for several years and I do feel that it has lost something this year (2013). It has a nice dark color, the smell is very festive for which it represents. It has an almost egg nogg smell and to a certain degree taste as well. I like eggnogg and I like beer and I do believe that this one balances that pretty well. Most holiday/winter beers have too much of one spice or another but this one balances it pretty well. But, this year did fall a little flat to me. I enjoyed it, its a great beer and much better than most, but there was a bit less of the things I used to like about it and more of the just average ale taste coming through. I like a good ale and this would be a good one by itself, but for a quarter of the price. Overall, I will continue to have a pour of this around the holidays, when I run across it. One thing I would like to try is it on draft, but that is nearly impossible to do, it goes extremely quickly and you have to be at the right place at the right time. I am like Dr. John unfortunately.

Photo of barczar
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a brilliant amber with a frothy, lingering beige head that leaves spotty lacing.

Nutty, toasted malt dominates the aroma, with a hint of specialty fruitiness and floral hops.

Flavor reveals soft underpinnings of spice, a backbone of toasted nuts, substantial malt fruitiness, and a lightly floral and fairly bitter hop finish. Cinnamon, perhaps nutmeg, and clove are very subtle...indistinguishable. Vanilla, cocoa, and oak surface in the aftertaste.

Body is moderate, with carbonation a touch high, and light alcohol warmth.

Aside from the malt fruitiness, metallic character, and slightly overly bitter finish, a very nice winter warmer. Like the subtlety of spicing. Good malt character, though it may benefit from even more.

Photo of Jhansengranger
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Typically not a fan of winter ales as I generally find them over spiced. This winter ale is definitely an exception.

A- Caramel brown to amber color with only a little bit of head, less than I was expecting, maybe I should have opened it sooner. Still a nice color though.

S- Wonderful smell, caramel and a bit of sweet fruit to it. Still smells slightly like Christmas without being overpowering in the least.

T- The smell of the beer did not disappoint. Lots of sweet fruit notes and just a small hint of those winter spices you expect. Vanilla and berries stand out a bit. A bit more alcohol flavor than I was expecting based on the ABV.

M- Quite creamy and nice to drink, certainly a go-to beverage for winter.

O- Easy to drink with hints of interesting spices that are very complimentary to the ale. Sweet flavors but not too sweet to drink by the gallon. I'd highly recommend this well balanced beer.

Photo of bwiles
4.27/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

Photo of watermelon
3.59/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This years release In a 1 liter bottle poured into a tulip glass

A: Clear mahogany body with a creamy dense three finger head. Lots of lacing and great retention.

S: Not a very strong smell. Carmel and vanilla scents as well as some alcohol burn.. which is odd for the low ABV.

T: Vanilla flavors. Cranberry is good. Some nutty flavors as well as dark hops.

M: The mouthfeel is light and creamy I would prefer it be thicker especially for the style. The carbonation is correct. Slight bitterness lingers on the palette.

O: I probably wont be buying this again. For $13 for the liter size I just wasn't that impressed with this one. If it was offered in the +/- $10 size pack format it would be a decent winter warmer. I do like that it isn't super spiced and also doesn't have the medicinal flavors that some of this style have.

Photo of tmm313
4.39/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark brownish red color. Poured a super creamy 1 finger head. Awesome sticky lacing.
S- Raspberry, cranberry, caramel, and a touch of vanilla. Dank hops come out as it warms. Very inviting.
T- Sweetness. Got better and better as it warmed. Rich caramel, earthiness, raspberry, cranberry and vanilla. Cinnamon comes out as temp rises. Slight hop presence.
M- Medium body with medium carbonation. Creamy on the tongue.
O- I really enjoyed this beer. I took it to Xmas dinner to share with family, but drank 95% of it myself. I loved the uncommon flavor combination of the berries, vanilla, caramel, and cinnamon. Nicely balanced, as well.

Photo of ksimons
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A-kind of a amber ruby color with a fingers worth of head that leaves some lacing around the top

S-the smell is nice, caramel and warm winter spices

T-caramel malt, light vanilla, slight bitterness, and spices

M-medium body, moderate carbonation

Overall it is easy to drink but to me is not very exciting. I do like how the beer isn't overly sweet like a lot of winter warmers can be.

Photo of RyanPoff
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 oz bottle into a 16 oz stein. Bottle date 11/14, consumed 12/20. Purchased at Libation Station in Johnson City, TN. This is the only retailer in the Tri-Cities I know that carries it.

A: Two fingers of light brown, creamy. foamy head retreating to one, with lacing remaining on the glass after consumption. Very visually appealing.

S: Aromas of bread, vanilla, strong malts. As the brew warms, a bit of chocolate. Smells like Christmas treats.

T: The vanilla, malts, and other spices lead up front, with a slight alcohol bite and bitterness after the swallow. Not really a fan of the bitterness on the back end, but still a very good brew.

M: Medium body, very creamy, medium carbonation, Very smooth, but not "oily," It fits the style, but not what I'll remember about the brew.

Probably Highland's best overall product - too bad it's not readily available and more expensive than the other products.

Have also had in a growler, but was a very sub-par draft. Would not recommend on draft.

Photo of tillmac62
3.79/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 12/13. Pours a ruby amber with a nice head and lacing. Slight nose of sweet malt with a hint of spice and chocolate. Light medium bodied with a nice level of carbonation. Smooth, but not slick or creamy, mouthfeel. This is not a strong flavored ale. It has more of a subdued profile rather than a flavor bomb. Light spice, cinnamon/cardamom, over a light sweetness. Pleasant and not overpowering. Crisp finish that leaves a slight bitter and spice aftertaste that is also tart.

Photo of BeerGod27
4.63/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I couldn't decide what to drink yesterday. Our waiter suggested this beauty and I'm very glad he did.
This is a perfect beer for the winter months. It's sugary and malty with so much flavor.
Pours a dark brown with minimal head. Lacing is medium and streaky.
Smell is slightly spicy and cold.
Taste is smooth, malty and sweet. Flavors are caramel, spicy (without tasting like a Christmas tree) and bready. Good carbonation.
This beer is best enjoyed in a dark pub or at home with a book in front of the fireplace. I could easily drink this all day.

Photo of ChuckWagon
3.45/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Since I had my first Cold Mountain four years ago, I've looked forward to the release date. But every year, it seems like the quality slips a little, and this year (2013 - the beer was released just last Thursday) the slippage seems to have been a little more extreme.

Specifically, the intake of the beer was fine but the finish was abrupt and left a metallic after-taste. I thought maybe I was having an off day (happens) but a few other folks I've talked to since felt the same way. Like it could use some more time, or maybe something wasn't quite right with the recipe or batch. It was almost like the vanilla was short, or an inferior grade.

That said, it's still drinkable, but not quite as good as I remember it or hoped this year's would be. Maybe some time will help it out, or maybe not.

Your mileage may vary.

Photo of KajII
3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

[Suggested Glassware: Shaker Glass]

The pour was a clear reddish medium brown with an average (1-2 finger) light brown frothy head that was mostly diminishing, down to a light scattered film with a medium collar and fair sticky lacing.

The aroma was quite complex with a toasted bread malt, light spruce hops and a sweet doughy yeast with notes of caramel, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, toffee and dark fruit (figs and dates).

The taste was a bold malty sweet with a decent fruit presence along with hints of chocolate and caramel from the get go and was present pretty much throughout, it then progressed slightly with a mild bitter hoppy taste, a touch of coffee and a light toffee sweetness towards the finish. The flavor lasted a bit longer that average following the swallow, with a bitter sweet taste lingering on the taste buds for quite a while longer.

Mouthfeel was just below medium in body with a dry, creamy texture and a medium carbonation.

Overall this was an extremely tasty, well balanced Winter Ale. I will say with everything this brew has going on it was blended superbly well, which allowed for a smooth and very enjoyable drinkability...

http://www.facebook.com/KAJIIsBeerReviews

Photo of Chaney
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Ranked #7 in the Winter Warmer category. What the hell is Winter Warmer anyway? I'm thinking it's an alcohol infused cola.

Served in an Olde Hickory glass.

A: Poured a crap-brown color, infinitely cloudy, and without much of a head at all.

S: "Kinda cool" - Bill Cosby. Coca-Cola with added malt. Digging it.

T: Infinitely drinkable, not ale-like in any way, and malty.

M: Carbonationally excellent, no lacing left on the glass. Hell, it still reminded me of Cola.

O: The fact that this one is at the top of its style class in the Winter Warmer category doesn't surprise me.

Photo of cyclonece09
3.69/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a 14 oz "pint" glass. Pours a translucent red with high visible carbonation and a small off white head. Smells of dark roast grain dominated by caramel. Tastes of slight chocolate and coffee but with a little hop bite. Nice grain balance. Beer is medium bodied and goes down smooth. Overall an above average beer.

Photo of Treyliff
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A- pours dark copper color with a two-finger light creamy head, good retention after pour, a bit of lace

S- dried cranberry, vanilla bean, hazelnut, sweet raspberry fruit, sweet caramel malt. Aromas are pronounced and inviting, very nice

T- so many flavors going on; vanilla, berries, hazelnut, dried cranberry with a raspberry tartness, the finish is balanced by sweet caramel malt. By far one of the most complex winter Warner's I've had.

M- medium body, low carbonation, creamy mouthfeel, velvety smooth finish

O- most Winter Warmers seem to taste the same for the most part, but this one sets itself apart from all of the other typical flavors of the style. The flavors are more complex and are reminiscent of the season. I'd gladly purchase this again and again.

Photo of corby112
3.15/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to kubrick215 for sharing.

Pours a hazy dark amber/copper color with a one finger beige head that slowly fades into a lasting ring.  Sporadic spotty lacing left behind.  

Earthy, leathery malt aroma with an odd syrupy medicinal presence along with some dark fruit and heavy spices.  Hints of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla bean followed by cherry juice, plum and raspberry.

Medium bodied wih a dry, medicinal flavor along with a heavy vanilla and spice presence.   Lots of dark fruit and sweet caramel malt sweetness with notes of hazelnut, toffee, raspberry, cherry juice and lots of vanilla.  Floral/potpourri like with zesty cinnamon and clove spiciness.  Really weird combination of flavors.  Not bad but a few ounces was more than enough for me.

Photo of bigfnjoe
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a Duvel tulip

A- pours a nice cherry red with a half finger tan head that sticks around for awhile. Nice looking beer, minus the head

S- huge aromas of raspberries and cinnamon coming through...wow, excellent and very unexpected

T- a nice punch of raspberries to start, then moving into some nuttiness and a little cinnamon to finish. Very unique, and very good

M- medium bodied, on the thicker side. Maybe a little too much body

O- most winter warmers are overspiced and generally taste the same. This one though, it's a nice changeup from the normal, and something that's done very well. Well done, Highland

Photo of BlackBelt5112203
4.55/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into a mug at cellar temperature.

L – Amber-brown color with a big 4-finger bubbly, foamy, cream-colored head. Really nice retention and some awesome patchy lacing. Clear with a very nice amount of bubbles.

S – A great malt profile with caramel, bready, nutty, and toasted aromas with some brown sugar and hazelnut notes in particular. As for spices, I’m getting some cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg aromas. Not as spice-heavy as some winter warmers, but that’s just fine with me. The malt aromas are too good to mask. As for the added fruit extracts, there may be just a hint of them. I probably wouldn’t have picked them out without reading the label.

T – The taste starts off sweet with caramel and bready malt, brown sugar, and hazelnut flavors. Again, the added fruit extracts are maybe ever so slightly present. Dry toasted malt and spice flavors come in next. The spices are much stronger in the taste (but still not as strong and overpowering as some winter warmers) with cinnamon and ginger being the frontrunners. Earthy and herbal smoothly bitter hops appear toward the finish along with a dry cranberry taste. There are those fruits!

F – Medium-to-full-bodied with nice carbonation, a smooth and creamy mouthfeel, and a bittersweet, slightly spicy, and dry finish. A wonderful mix of flavors including sweet malts, zesty spices, and bitter hops and fruits linger. Alcohol is nowhere to be found, and, as a result, this beer is amazingly drinkable.

O – This is a terrific winter warmer. It has a rich and hearty malt profile with just the right amount of seasonal spices mixed in. In addition, it is insanely drinkable. I finished the bomber before I knew it. Even better, it’s only 5.8% ABV! Who ever heard of a sessionable winter warmer? I personally love the idea. Awesome beer from Highland.

Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.26/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass. Liquid comes out a nice hearty amber/red/deep brown color. There's really good clarity and it glows when held up in the light. There's a nice white cap, mostly small bubbles, a little bit of lacing, but not a ton.

Smell is really good, malty with a lot going on. Sweet toffee and hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and hazelnut. There are also tones of raspberries and cranberries that provide a very subtle sweetness immediately followed by some tart, very natural. Interesting blend, with everything there's almost a coco aroma too.

Taste is exactly on par with the smell, except we have some nice regular beer flavors as well. There's definitely a prominent coco flavor, but it doesn't seem like it should fit in... except it totally does! There's a fruitiness again with some almost, not quite completely, ripe raspberries and then some cranberries. There's also the same hints of vanilla and hazelnut in there and that freaking coco. NONE of these flavors seem to stand out more than the other, everything is balanced and gentle/subtle. Very well done.

Mouthfeel is great. In addition to all of the great (very well blended) flavors, the beer is the heavier end of light bodied with a great carbonation level. Great sweetness with some natural bitterness at the end, but still clean. It's complex but soft and overall really well balanced. Great drink ability. It's easily the best "winter warmer" I've had all year and I could drink it all winter, but this brew could go deeper into the spring if it wanted to, as well as start in the fall. Nice job Highland, totally digging this beer, but I'm not surprised. Thanks Paschal for the awesome hookup!

Photo of jpro
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a 22oz bomber at Peabody's. Poured into a Highland shaker pint glass...

A: Pours a tea-like amber; maybe some reddish hues in there; one-finger, light tan head manages a thin layer of creamy retention, but doesn't leave much lace.

S: First thing that hits is vanilla; has a bit of a cream soda character to it; a little nutty; cinnamon. Interesting... very different than most winter beers!

T: Wow - that cream soda esque flavor is pretty big; a touch of hazelnut - a bit of rind toward the finish; minimal bitterness afforded by some leafy hop flavor.

M: Medium mouthfeel; moderate carbonation.

O: Very different than most winter ales or winter warmers; sweet spices and not much alcohol (relatively speaking) make it really stand out. Would pair nicely with some pumpkin or pecan pie. Next year...

Photo of rudzud
3.84/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Received as extra in a trade.

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a crystal clear mahogany hue with a good two finger creamy off white head that faded to leave a thin quarter inch blanket and nice lacing.

S - Nice caramel and toffee along with biscuits and malts. Very gentle spice notes.

T - Taste is nice, light caramel and sweeter toffee. Twinge of metallic notes and faint typical winter spices. Actually some alcohol too, which, is rather odd.

M - Mouthfeel is a bit on the thinner side. Light carbonation here.

O - Overall, not a bad beer, just everything is a bit too subtle. Plus, I shouldnt be getting alcohol in a 5.8% beer.

Photo of davey101
4.06/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber into a DFH signature glass. Thanks to sommersb.

A - Pours a clear dark red body. Very attractive off white head with large bubbles. Nice lacing and retention.

S - Light toffee and bready malts, nutty with a touch of fruit and spice. A bit muddled but quite nice for a winter warmer.

T - Clean caramel and bready malts with some faint spices and berries. Nice combination of flavors.

M - Medium bodied with nice carbonation. Highly drinkable.

O - Not generally a style I go after, but this was a very well made beer. I noticed it has hazelnut, raspberry, and cranberry extracts as well as cinnamon and vanilla listed on the ingredient list. Its a bit hard to discern each ingredient but they do work together to produce a nice taste of winter.

Photo of metter98
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear reddish amber in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high dense beige head that died down, leaving a large patch of bubbles in the center of the glass and a collar around the edge.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of cranberry juice, hazelnut and vanilla beans in the nose.
T: The taste shares some similarities with the smell but also has some hints of raspberries. Notes of cinnamon sticks are also apparent towards the finish, although these become muted as the beer warms up and are replaced with flavors of hazelnuts and later with berries. Neither sweetness nor bitterness is perceptible.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a little smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is quite unusual for the style and has an interesting mix of fruity flavors and spices. I liked how the dynamics of the beer changed as it warmed up, which make for it being an interesting winter warmer to sip.

Photo of match1112
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

body is a clear dark amber color with a finger and a half of tan creamy head. the head recedes to a thin ring around the glass and leaves only a little lacing at the top of the glass. The nose is dominated by hints of cinnamon and vanilla with a light fruit scent. spice leads the way on the tongue also. i thought the fruit would of been apples but the label says raspberries and cranberries, i can kind of pick up on the tartness of the cranberries, but the raspberries are lost under the dominating presence of cinnamon. mouthfeel seems a little thin for a winter warmer. carbonation is nice and prickly on the tongue. i don't usually like winter warmers but this one is very drinkable. i wish the raspberrries played a bigger role in the beer and the vanilla would be better in a leading role instead of the cinnamon. none the less it is still worth drinking. but with the thin body and fairly low abv i don't know how warm it will keep you this winter.

Photo of kempshark
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

For me the major smell and taste was vanilla....I tasted a little cinnamon, but I didn't get any of the chocolate or roasted flavors others mentioned. It was what I would call a good, light roasted flavored beer. I generally prefer stouts, porters, and quads...this was a nice, light alternative that was very easy drinking.

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 696 ratings.