Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter AleHighland Cold Mountain Winter Ale

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308 Reviews
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Reviews: 308
Hads: 700
Avg: 4.01
pDev: 19.95%
Wants: 86
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

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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 308 | Hads: 700
Photo of ChuckWagon
3.45/5  rDev -14%
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.

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Photo of KajII
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%
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...


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Photo of Chaney
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of cyclonece09
3.69/5  rDev -8%
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.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.45/5  rDev +11%
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.

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Photo of corby112
3.15/5  rDev -21.4%
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.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
4.25/5  rDev +6%
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

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Photo of BlackBelt5112203
4.55/5  rDev +13.5%
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.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.26/5  rDev +6.2%
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!

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Photo of jpro
4.05/5  rDev +1%
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...

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Photo of rudzud
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

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Photo of davey101
4.06/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of metter98
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
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.

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Photo of match1112
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
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.

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Photo of kempshark
3.65/5  rDev -9%
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.

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Photo of TrappistJohnMD
4.39/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours amber color with thin off-white head that dissipates quickly. No lacing along sides of Firestone Walker snifter.

Smell is chocolate, marshmellow, cranberries, and caramel. Very nice!

Taste is sweet chocolate, malt, and marshmellow. Very mild bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Very smooth and drinkable.

Overall this is awesome! I could drink this all day long!

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz, 2012
DFH signature

A: Deep amber color. It's filtered nicely, as you can still see through it pretty well. Thin layer off white head. Faded pretty quickly.

S: Holiday spices. Some hop notes. More on the earthy side than fruity. The holiday spices really dominate.

T: You get a little hop bitterness up front, then that holiday spice and malt pick up in the middle of the mouth.

M: Medium bodied.

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Photo of Reaper16
3.16/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

served on-tap @ Downtown Pub, Tuscaloosa, AL, into a pint glass

Pours an amber, nearly copper color. Decent clarity to the body. Nice, frothy buttermilk colored head of nearly 1.5 fingers.

The aroma is very sweet, like you stuck your head in a bag full of pastries. Lots of vanilla and cinnamon, but also a lot of buttered bread.

That carries through to the palate as well. Its like eating a pastry. Or, rather, drinking one. Its too buttery for my tastes, but there's nothing bad here.

Overall, this is a strange beer. It's heavy in terms of sweetness, but the excellent-carbonated body is light. The flavor says "sip me" but the mouthfeel says "gulp me." This is a nice beer, but you have to be in the mood for a cinnamon and butter and vanilla bomb.

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Photo of Daktah
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep copper with a small white head that left good lacing. Smell was almost all vanilla, and a ton of it. Maybe a little honey or caramel in there - something sweet. The taste was more vanilla, with a small bite of spice at the end. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated, it really is a good sipping beer, especially as it warms up. Almost no alcohol taste and overall extremely smooth.

A great and very different winter seasonal and a perfect beer for limited release - delicious and season-appropriate, and sweet and spicy enough that I wouldn't want to drink it regularly.

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Photo of mechamifune
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: nice copper color .... healthy white head.... nice lacing

S: smell is vanilla, cinnamon, honey... pleasant

T: taste follows the smell, ultimately a little sweet for my taste...some caramel flavors develop and linger

M: very smooth and easy to drink for the amount of and size of the flavors....nice sense of body

O: this is a nice example of the style, and if I was in the mood for a winter warmer i'd try to get this one...that being said, like GL Xmas Ale, I don't think this beer justifies the hype it has around here

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Photo of chinchill
4.04/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2012 12 oz bottle served in a snifter. Pours a beautiful, clear mahogany color, with a short-lived beige head. Very sweet aroma is followed by a rather sweet upfront taste but eventually turns mildly bitter. The beer is a mildly spicy and a bit fruity, including raspberry and a surprising apricot note in the nose that's present but subdued in tasting. Cinnamon and plenty of vanilla in both; perhaps too much vanilla in the flavor.

Overall an enjoyable, complex and distinctive seasonal brew.

{9 months later (Sept. 2013) a bottle kept in a cooler is every bit as tasty}.

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Photo of dvmin98
4/5  rDev -0.2%
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

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Photo of dbrauneis
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Edition

A: Pours a crystal clear light to medium amber in color with very light amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a finger tall creamy beige head that slowly reduces to a thick film covering the entire surface of the beer. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of cocoa along with some vanilla and just a touch of spices (nutmeg stands out). Additionally there are some notes of brown sugar.

T: Moderate to strong flavors of vanilla and oak over some lighter notes of cocoa and spices (nutmeg). Some caramel malts flavors along with a little bit of brown sugar sweetness.

M: Just shy of medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Creamy.

O: This is a very enjoyable beer and I could almost think it had been barrel aged - nice combination of the spices, cocoa, and vanilla... Pretty easy to drink and I had no problem putting down a couple of glasses. Very nice of a fairly cold November evening but would have been improved by sitting in front of the fireplace.

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Photo of brother_kenneth
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
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 -4.2%
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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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 308 ratings.