1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

552 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 552
Reviews: 297
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 13.18%
Wants: 68
Gots: 48 | FT: 3
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:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 552 | Reviews: 297 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Spunky
5/5  rDev +24.4%

Spunky, Dec 06, 2011
Photo of rmccomas
4/5  rDev -0.5%

rmccomas, Dec 21, 2011
Photo of Bryson
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%

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.

Bryson, Dec 12, 2011
Photo of will49wv
4.75/5  rDev +18.2%

will49wv, Jul 17, 2013
Photo of mst934
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

mst934, Aug 09, 2014
Photo of smurfyou
2.55/5  rDev -36.6%

Maybe this will be the first unflattering review of this beer? I'll preface this by saying I live in NC and love NC beers. My expectations might have been high because I enjoyed it last year.

I got a 22oz bomber of 2006 Cold Mountain from Greenlife in Asheville. Sat down after dinner with a fire going, in a cabin on a cold mountain night. Poured a decent looking dark amber color with a bit of head. Smelled like a winter warmer, nothing too suprising but nice. But when I tasted it, I was assaulted with nutmeg/spice flavor way out of balance with the beer part. Vanilla too I think. The malt flavor that was there was nice, just covered up by spice. The mouthfeel was very thin, contrary to what the smell and appearance would have you think. I honestly couldn't believe how unbalanced this beer tasted. Maybe thats what they're going for, a lot of you seem to like it. I could only get through half of it, the rest went down the drain. Sorry to all who can't find it...

smurfyou, Jan 04, 2007
Photo of Walker8810
3.55/5  rDev -11.7%

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.

Walker8810, Dec 07, 2008
Photo of westy_far
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

westy_far, Feb 01, 2014
Photo of wtmcadams
5/5  rDev +24.4%

wtmcadams, Nov 21, 2011
Photo of norcar
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

Oh how I look forward to this year after year. Got it on tap on the release day in Asheville.

A: Uniform dark copper with a medium 1 1/2 finger head. Good lacing with some retention.

S: This is what I enjoy about the beer. It stands out with smells of strong vanilla, slight malts and spices.

T: This winter warmer starts off creamy with a solid balance of tastes of vanilla and malts matching the smell, and is followed up with a very slight hop taste at the end. Seems it is lacking in the complexity and spices as usually expected from years past.

M: Light and very easy to drink. Slight alcohol and good carbonation. Doesn't give you what you expect, very thin.

D: I can drink this beer day in and day out. Though it is not one of my prized beers for its rarity, style or just an amazing complex beer and it seems to be less spicey this year as years past, Cold Mountain is my comfort beer. It reminds me of past times, good friends and the holidays in WNC. So without and objective point of view, if you see it out pick it up and give it a try.

norcar, Nov 21, 2010
Photo of ncbeerbubba
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

ncbeerbubba, Jan 17, 2012
Photo of baj
4.75/5  rDev +18.2%

baj, Aug 18, 2013
Photo of kempshark
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%

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.

kempshark, Dec 29, 2012
Photo of dirtbag43
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%

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.

dirtbag43, Jan 06, 2009
Photo of ChuckWagon
3.4/5  rDev -15.4%

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.

ChuckWagon, Nov 20, 2013
Photo of HeadE
2.73/5  rDev -32.1%

Poured from 22oz bottle to pint glass with coppery color and minimal head with no lacing.
Aroma is of overwhelming vanilla tones with none of the usual spice or roasted malt characteristics of a winter warmer.
Flavor reminiscent of cream soda with strong vanilla notes and no hop finish. Overly sweet with caramel tones in the background.
As fans of the previous offerings of Cold Mountain, my wife and I both agree this was a poor showing. Another bottle in the fridge, we will give it one more chance but are not as excited about future showings as we have been in the past. Perhaps it will cellar and age well and we will buy another to try again in six months.

HeadE, Nov 13, 2010
Photo of rpjonesga
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%

I just had this beer on tap at Taco Mac in Atlanta. I was very surprised with the vanilla / creamy flavor of this one. Unfortunately, the beer was served too cold which probably took away from some of its charm.

I really didn't detect much in the way of hops but the rich, malty character was just what I wanted from a winter ale.

Highly recommended!

rpjonesga, Nov 21, 2009
Photo of bgarrity
3.53/5  rDev -12.2%

Interesting ale to drink. Aroma is not much to talk about, because you really have try to even smell it. Taste is chocolate and caramel mostly, with slight hoppiness afterwards with a bitter chocolate finish. Nice dark amber color. Interesting brew but not Highland's best. Word of warning: intense chocolate flavor for chocolate lovers mostly.

bgarrity, Oct 11, 2009
Photo of Bolendak
4.7/5  rDev +16.9%

What a beer this was! Cold Mountain Winter Ale is a brew that would make any NC native proud. I first had this pint at the Flying Saucer in Raleigh, NC after three friends ordered the a pint of this Highland beer, and urged me to do the same. As with any new beer I was a bit skeptical and anxious, however, Cold Mountain came through. The appearance was a dark rosy color similar to an amber ale. The smell was almost flowery, reminiscent of Samuel Adams Nobel Pils. I was a bit worried when I saw the beermaid presenting me with this pint, it had little to no head. I don't know if that was because of the beer itself or if the bartender simply didn't know how to pour a pint. It had a very light mouth feel, with almost no trace of bitterness. Very similar to Red Oak but it had more fruity hints to it, almost like a kind of grapey aftertaste. I loved Cold Mountain Winter Aile and would highly recommend it.

Bolendak, Mar 18, 2010
Photo of bwiles
4.26/5  rDev +6%

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.

bwiles, Jan 01, 2014
Photo of johnsonni06
2/5  rDev -50.2%

johnsonni06, Dec 22, 2012
Photo of manyghosts
4/5  rDev -0.5%

manyghosts, Nov 27, 2013
Photo of evanstoner
3/5  rDev -25.4%

evanstoner, Dec 27, 2013
Photo of HGarst4
5/5  rDev +24.4%

HGarst4, Aug 08, 2014
Photo of mountaingirl88
4.22/5  rDev +5%

I got this years taste from the Weinhaus in Asheville. Hard to come by, but well worth it. Loved it better than last years. Enjoyed the hazelnut flavor. Not crazy about all the vanilla, especially with the after taste. Smell and drinkability are absolutly delicious. I have had this in both the bottle and on draft. Prefer bottle, but since that's all gone draft will have to do. Usual Suspects is my favorite draft spot for this beer. They keep it nice and cold and still have some left!

mountaingirl88, Jan 03, 2007
Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
90 out of 100 based on 552 ratings.