Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale - Highland Brewing

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

655 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 655
Reviews: 306
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 13.37%
Wants: 82
Gots: 92 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: RBorsato on 11-25-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 655 | Reviews: 306 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dirtbag43
4.03/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very enjoyable seasonal brew. Warm and festive with several different characteristics noticeable with each sip making you want one drink after another. Thick and malty with a smooth, vanilla-like candy finish. I had mine at Barley's Taproom in Knoxville, just over the mountains from where they brew the beer in Asheville. Freshness was great and I made several more trips back to taste this beer.

Photo of Atricapilla
4.63/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My wife and I really liked this beer. Pours a light-medium copper color, although when held up to the light, had some golden to it....Smells strongly of malt and slight (very) herbalness. Taste was malty and had a sweet aftertaste, almost like candy sugar. Taste had a bit of ethanol to it as well. This beer went great with dinner.

Photo of younger35
3.9/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this brew over a year ago as an extra from ncvbc. For some reason this is only the second Highland brew I've reviewed but there Oatmeal Porter is one of my favorites. Drank from my Surly nonic pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a super dark reddish-brownish with light hues of yellow and a decent half finger light tan head. The head never really recedes leaving a thin cap and thick collar yet almost no lacing.
Smell- Lightly sweet and spicy with a brown sugariness that is apparent from the start. Cocoa nibs and cinnamon along with maybe a bit of vanilla (or something vanilla like?). Slightly metallic and hints of caramel the nose is nice but perhaps a bit underwhelming.
Taste- Wow, however underwhelming the nose might have been the taste more than makes up for it. Loads of raw bitter cocoa, marshmallows and caramel. Some ginger and orange peel add a bit of spiciness and makes this beer resemble something like gingerbread. Slightly nutty as it warms and the hops that seemed non-existent in the nose are slightly citric and bitter. Bready and warm in the finish as the caramel lingers and lingers.
Mouthfeel- Nice heavy body with fairly crisp carbonation that lends a bit of sting.
Drinkability- Pretty damned tasty brew that is unlike any other Winter Warmer I've had before. Reminds me of something like liquid gingersnap. This turned out to be a nice change of pace that I really enjoyed. Wish I would have tried it fresh as I assume the spices would have popped a bit more. Thanks again Walter!

Photo of AgingWarrior
3.7/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark copper color with some reddish brown highlights into my Great Lakes pint glass. The pour produced a thick finger of tan colored foamy head with good retention and lots of lacing.

Smell is sweet malts, fruit and spices. The scent is a bit understated for a winter warmer.

Tastes a lot like it smells, a little sweet, malty but also somewhat different than most winter warmers. The spices are there, but subtle. Nicely balanced brew with a smooth and clean finish.

Medium body drink, smooth and creamy. Feels great as it washes over the tongue.

Smooth and easy drinking, very enjoyable.

Not exactly what I expected from a Winter Warmer, but a very enjoyable beer.

Photo of BrewerB
3.9/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to greenvilleguitar for the hookup on this beer!

A - Pours a medium copper color with great clarity and a well-retaining, thin off-white head. Some lacing when swirled.

S - Caramel sweetness combines with hints of orange peel, earthiness and a light presence of alcohol. Indiscernible spiciness.

T - Darkly toasted bread, herbal-spiciness, moderate level of bittering. Faint hints of the orange peel-type fruitiness are hidden beneath the maltier character. Even fainter smoky character. Pleasing medium-dry finish with a lingering toasty sensation.

M - Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Smooth, easy to drink.

D - Unlike some other winter warmers I've had, this beer has a nice balance between the spiciness and lovely dark toasted malt. I'm glad I cracked this open in the wintertime and it feels appropriate to the season. Were I to order at a pub, I could probably have 2, possibly 3 pints before moving on.

Photo of Oxymoron
4.05/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

As compared to a warm mountain in the winter? Pours a mostly clear chestnut brown color with some reddish hues through out. A soft off white head with good head and retention though limited lacing.

The nose is mostly malty with hints of spice. To start there is a big chocolate note that has more of a candy like aroma versus a chocolate malt. Some minor grainy notes as well. There is a distinct bready notes but this is emphasized by the spice notes. Mostly cinnamon, cloves and a touch of nutmeg. The spice is light though. Some yeasty note but not overly off.

The taste is similar, but the chocolate notes come out more if that is possible. The chocolate malt comes out a bit more as the candy notes back off. This is helped by the mouthfeel. Some lactic almost milky notes as well. A touch of astringency on the backend. A bit muddled beyond the choc notes but there is a nutty finish. The spice comes out a bit more versus the nose as well. Cloves comes out more but noticeable cinnamon and nutmeg. The yeast is noticeable as well and leaves a filmy finish.

The body is between moderate and full. Leaves a malty finish, but isn't too sweet. Nor does it have that under attenuated feel. Very nice malty and a light carbonation to back it. Overall a good beer with some minor faults.

Photo of badbeer
4.03/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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

Photo of hwwty4
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

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

Photo of gabe23
4.6/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark reddish brown with a thick head that holds up quite well. The lacing is wonderful.

S - Sweet, malty and grainy. Perhaps some vanilla and cinnamon, but it's hard to distinguish all the individual scents. Very, very nice.

T - This beer is a malt lover's dream. Toasty and sweet, with a tiny hop bite to keep things in balance. The spice adds a great winter/holiday feel, without being overpowering.

M - Creamy and smooth with just enough carbonation.

D - I split a 22oz bomber with my Dad on Christmas Eve, and I immediately wished we each had our own bottle. This is a fantastic winter ale that goes down smooth and warms you on a cold night. While it's not light by any means, it seems to have a low ABV, and I could drink it all night.

Photo of aubuc1
4.08/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber poured in to a goblet

Pours a deep brown with ruby glimmering and a thinning tan head.

Smells like a malty, bready, plummy, spicey brown ale.

Bright taste of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), fruit, malt, and a chalky yeast. Surprising taste of chocolate in there.

Good mouthfeel, and easier to drink than I expected.

A very good beer from a good brewer.

Photo of waldoiverson
2.05/5  rDev -49.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

bomber into US Ping

A: minmal head with almost no lacing, nice dark copper color

S: smells like those heart candies you get around valentines day...no alcohol smell or hops, maybe a bit of caramel malt

t: sweetbitterness that is kind of chalky and chamomile floraly...not sure what's going on here but my mouth isn't happy

m: thin and tangy from carbonation

d: not sure about abv but on taste i'd not drink another...sorry highland

Photo of phishgator
4.63/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a22oz bottle. Nice copper caramel color with a white thick head. Hints of toffee and cream. A little bit of spice and a big shot of creaminess are through out the taste. The body is medium/heavy and the brew just coats the entire mouth. A little filling after one so I would say that a bomber is all I want in a sitting, but I will drink at least once a year if I get my hands on it!

Photo of ncbeermonger
4.47/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is seasonal, and tastes like christmas!

It pours a little dark, and has good head

Smells of nutmeg, cinnamon, and spice.

The taste is good, not over powering!

the mouthfeel is almost crisp, and not heavy

This is one of the most drinkable beers of its kind, check it out if you get a chance

Photo of HeyItsChili
4.28/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Pours a dark, murky garnet/amber with a foamy tan head that clings to the surface of the beer.

S - Vanilla, brown sugar,

T - Exceptionally complex. Sweet, almost cream soda like with the vanilla accent, spicy, warm sweet and roasted malt. Teeny bit of hops at the end.

M - Not too thick, a little crispness from carbonation.

D - Delicious. If I ever find my way into one of those ski chalets I hear so much about I'll down some of these around a roaring fire.

Photo of doppelmeup
4.5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

have to say that this is my favorite Winter Warmer, and I can hardly wait for its release each year. There is some great beer being brewed in North Carolina, and Highland Brewing is one of my favorite breweries.

Appearance: This beer is gorgeous to look at. A topaz colored brew with a thick, rich head that lasted all the way down the glass.

Aroma: This beer smells like a holiday party. Milk Chocolate, vanilla bean, brown sugar, sweet butter cream and just a hint of spice. Interestingly, the vanilla aroma remains throughout the glass. A key point about the vanilla. I've had some beer where the vanilla had a very artificial feel. In the case of Cold Mountain Ale, the vanilla aroma smells natural and real. I find myself looking for the vanilla been specs.

Taste: Sweet and malty. Brown sugar, vanilla beans, milk chocolate, slightly spicy, maybe a cinnamon or allspice note? But the spiciness is very subtle. The vanilla is well done. Not a lot in the way of hop flavor, but I wasn't really looking for a lot in this brew. A nice balance where the malty sweetness is pronounced, but not syrupy or cloying.

Mouthfeel: Creamy with a slightly dry finish. Velvety comes to mind.

Overall: This is a superb offering from Highland. IMO, it is the best Winter Warmer out there. I hope Highland Brewing keeps this year's recipe as the new standard. Track down a bottle of this beer any way you can. You will not be disappointed!

Photo of hellomcfly
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just had this tasty brew twice over on tap. The word of the day is balance.

A - My pint arrives a nice brown-amber color with a small tan head. A good lacing clings to the walls of my pint glass.

I get a nice chocolate malt nose with some spice character as well. Nutmeg and cinnomin perhaps?

T - Last years brew screamed gingerbread cookie to me and this one not so much. Very well balanced between sweet malts and a nice hop touch. This is a tasty winter warmer with nice caramel and chocolate malts, nice christmasy spice, and enough hops to round it all out. This is a nicely balanced beer. Fantastic representation of the style in my opinion.

M - Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Coats the mouth smoothly.

D - I'd like to know the ABV on this. I had two of them on an empty stomach and caught a little buzz but it is a fairly easy drinker. Two seemed right for me.

Photo of daliandragon
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have a healthy respect for this brewer, although most of their beers tend to be good rather than great. I was therefore surprised to see that this is the top ranked winter warmer on the site. It starts impressive, with a maroon color, near perfect clarity, and a wet tan head that shows very nice retention. The nose is sweet and spicy, with vanilla, caramel, and nutmeg wrapped around a base of dark malts.

The taste is more balanced than I expected, with some late hop bitterness that keeps the malts in check. The texture is a bit oily, particularly in the finish. Vanilla and toasted flavors lead the way here but if anything the sweet malt is understated, at least against my expectations. The texture is smooth with a warming finish. Alcohol is almost invisible. I wonder what the abv is. It matters not, you'll be hard pressed to find too many winter warmers that can top this one.

Photo of Walker8810
3.55/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a nice brownish hue with decent head. nice lacing.
aroma of cranberries of all things but it is a spiced winter brew.
mouthfeel is velvety smooth. goes down very easily.
tastes malty sweet w/ vanilla overtones and little hop flavor.
i normally don't like spiced beers but this one isn't overpoweringly spiced. still tastes like a good ale. i probably wouldn't drink it on a regular basis as it is not my favorite style but it is a really good example of a winter ale. definitely goes good w/ the season.
cheers.

Photo of rtratzlaff
4.83/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served on tap in a 16 oz pint glass.

A deep brownish copper with a light head leaving little lacing.

Aromas are sweet with some spice character. Quite malty and interesting in the nose.

The taste is sweet up front with a cookie like malt character. Then some spice and just enough bittering to create a great flavor of... well a really good beer. Warming alcohol hits the belly and the flavors punch as the beer warms. This beer is a Christmas cookie in a glass. This is too good; I don't want to overanalyze it. Mouthfeel is medium with light carbonation. I could drink this throughout a cold December night. Here's to winter and a great beer to go with it!

Photo of cvstrickland
4.33/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

Photo of tpd975
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one about this time last year and some how it made its way to the back of the beer fridge where it was forgotten. While doing a little rearranging today I found it and immediately popped it open.

It came via a great trader ByTor2112. Here goes the review.

A: Pours what appears to be a nice nutty brown hue. When put up to the light it is actually a beautiful dark clear ruby red. The head is nice and tall, fluffy, tan in color. The retention is wonderful with nice lace noted.

S: The aromas are not bold (though this one has sat a year) but what is there is rather nice. Nice sweet brown sugar with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. A light fruit juice aroma that I can't quite put my finger on.

T: Wow, this is one wonderful brew. What a mix of flavors. Vanilla right up front with cinnamon and a touch of ginger swirled in. Rich brown sugar and a splash of grenadine. A nice nutty malt carries thoroughout. What a wonderful holiday brew. If I had another bottle it would be opened on Christmas.

M: Medium in body, smooth and creamy with perfect carbonation.

D: Wish I had shared this one with the local tasting group, but it was a real treat to enjoy all to myself. One of the best holiday beers known to man.

Photo of scifan
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'ved been dying to try this beer ever since i read about, so excited that I found it today. Poured a deep amber into my favorite chalise. Had a nice head but dissapated quickly, left some nice lacing.
Lots of spices, mostly vanilla, also clove, cinnamon, and candi sugar. The vanilla comes through the most but it all blends togethere very nicely. This is a great beer for a cold winter night. Definitly all I expected can't wait have some more at lovely Christmas dinner with family and friends.

Photo of akorsak
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 1 L swingtop bottle courtesy of Deuane.

A: The ale is a dark amber, a full brown color of turbid cider or iced tea. Decent head on multiple tours.

S: The nose is not your normal mulled winter warmer, it has incredible depth and complexity. Vanilla bean is dominant, sitting atop cinnamon, powdered chocolate and faint tart cherries. Full without the bland spice complex many WWs have.

T: The ale is full of dark caramel and chocolate malts. Full nuttiness with some toffee drives the base of the ale. Vanilla bean flavors remain the center of attention but much more happens throughout the ale. A faint sour cherry flavor provides a warming undertone that mixes freely with some boozy warmth. Brown sugar, cinnamon, powdered cocoa all have their moment in the sun providing a nuanced flavor that is very pleasant to sip on.

M: Lots of spices make this a filling, delicious ale. With so much happening, you really need to take your time with it and allow each element to slowly emerge.

D: Boozy and strong, this is not a quaffing beer. Spend a few hours getting to know a bottle.

Photo of SPLITGRIN
4.47/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A fluffy three finger light tan head has nice retention leaving scattered lace as it fades. Body is an incredibly dark brown with ruby notes when held to light. Nose is big and malty with some rich spicey roasty notes. Candied malts awaken the taste buds on first sip. Like well made pie crust sprinkled with cinnamon. Nicely balanced and very smooth throughout the palate. A wonderful winter brew or year round pleaser. For that matter. Maybe a hint of cherry pie filling also. Very pleasant mouthfeel on the sweet side. I would love to have lots of these in my fridge.

Photo of largadeer
4.47/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Reddish-brown, clear with a light tan head. The head recedes to a ring within just a minute or two. This beer has a great color to it, especially when held to the light - very pretty stuff.

Smell: Very sweet but with a lot of unique character. Notes of toasted marshmallow, hot chocolate and gingerbread. This beer epitomizes all things Winter, and it's wonderful.

Taste & mouthfeel: Sweet but not cloying, full-bodied but highly drinkable. The taste isn't far from the nose: graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, gingerbread cookie, cocoa and caramel wafer all come to mind. The finish is thankfully dry and mildly bitter, adding a much needed counterpoint to the initial sweetness.

Notes: A big thanks to Loki for this one - I think I just found my new favorite Winter Warmer.

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 655 ratings.