Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale | Highland Brewing

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89
very good
779 Ratings
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Highland Cold Mountain Winter AleHighland Cold Mountain Winter Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Highland Brewing
North Carolina, United States
highlandbrewing.com

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by RBorsato on 11-25-2002

BEER STATS
Ratings:
779
Reviews:
318
Avg:
4
pDev:
13.25%
 
 
Wants:
90
Gots:
162
For Trade:
7
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 779 |  Reviews: 318
Photo of Sammy
3.77/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another very pleasant brew from Highland. Pours mocha-looking body with some off-white head. This was aged somewhat. Malty, with some roasted malt, and sweetish spices. The hops are understated, but present in the finish.Tad above average mouthfeel. Drinkable. Not a high rating of outstanding, but enjoyable nevertheless.

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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 jaydoc
3.77/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of kjkinsey
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%

Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

Photo of metter98
3.8/5  rDev -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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, yet clear, brown with ruby hues and an unwavering foamstand. Promises to be creamy and rich right out of the bottle. The first whiff reveals a solid barley malt base with notes of toffee, pecans, chocolate, and a spicy hop balance. Tastes full and rich with the nutty, chocolate, and toffee flavors with a light roasty and toasty hint in the finish. The finish also releases a light hop spiciness and dryness. The beer remeains creamy and full textured until the finish where it thins nicely for a clean and easy finish, but never became watery. The beer remids me of a lighter Sam Adams Chocolate Bock with added flavors and complexity. This beer improved greaty as it warmed to room temperature.

Thanks Merlin48

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Photo of oline73
5/5  rDev +25%

Photo of brentk56
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 vintage

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber color with a modest head that leaves a few splotches of lacing

Smell: Burnt caramel, orange peel, undiscernable winter spices and vanilla

Taste: Starts out rather malty with spice cake, orange peel and vanilla flavors; after the swallow, the lightly hopped bitterness adds balance; vanilla flavors linger after the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body, velvety; moderate carbonation

Drinkability: An enjoyable beer with a somewhat unique flavor profile but not one that you can drink in quantity

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Photo of WillieThreebiers
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%

Photo of largadeer
4.47/5  rDev +11.8%
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.

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Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%

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

22 ounce bottle into pint glass; no bottle dating, but is a recent seasonal release. Pours crystal clear deep ruby red/brownish color with a 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of big caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, toffee, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, hazelnut, ginger, and toasted biscuit; with lighter notes of chocolate, cocoa, raisin, plum, berries, herbal, floral, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/bready/light roast malt, spices, and light fruity yeast/earthy hop notes; with great strength. Taste big caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, toffee, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, hazelnut, ginger, and toasted biscuit; with lighter notes of chocolate, cocoa, raisin, plum, berries, herbal, floral, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Light herbal hop and spice bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, toffee, vanilla, cinnamon, hazelnut, toasted biscuit, light chocolate/fruitiness, and herbal/yeast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready/light roast malt, spices, and light fruity yeast/earthy hop flavors; with a great malt/bitter/spice balance, and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light dryness from hop/spice bitterness as well. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, moderately creamy/bready/grainy, and slightly sticky/chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Zero warming alcohol as expected of 5.9%. Overall this is an excellent winter warmer. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready/light roast malt, spices, and light fruity yeast/earthy hop flavors; very smooth and easy to drink. Follows the English style for the most part. Great malt complexity and underlying fruity yeast notes; nice spice balance without being overwhelming. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Paul for sharing this at a recent tasting. Currently the #1 Winter Warmer. Served in a snifter.

Pours a nice caramel color with a really light head. Doesn't really stick around too long and only leaves a spot or two of lacing. The nose is loaded with vanilla, though it smells somewhat like extract. There's also a bit of caramel and malty sweetness. The taste is more vanilla plus some caramel. Not much else, though it's fairly nice. Beer has a medium body and finishes quite dry. Not terribly complex and not all the winter warmery, but pretty good.

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Photo of nickfl
3.3/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - One finger of light brown foam on top of a slightly hazy, medium brown body with dark amber highlights. The foam settles quickly and leaves moderate lace.

S - Lots of sweet caramel and toffee with nutmeg, cinnamon, and a hint of licorice. There are some pine-scented hops in the background and maybe a bit of chocolate.

T - Some very strong toffee up front with notes of chocolate and nutmeg. A surprisingly assertive pine hop flavor appears in the middle with strong ginger, licorice and more toffee. The finish is a bit medicinal with a strange combination of tannic spices, sweet caramel, and bitter hops.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly sweet, astringent finish.

D - Spiced beers require a delicate touch and often the spices don't really seem like they improve the beer. Unfortunately this one steps over the line between judicious use of spices and becomes a cloying mess. The aroma is nice, with distinct malt and a good balance of spices and hops. The flavor starts out promising, but falls apart by the finish as the malt becomes cloying and the spices turn astringent. I really tried to like this, but it is a very strange beer and I definitely won't be drinking it again.

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Photo of chinchill
4.06/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | 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 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 but then this is a winter ale.

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 oberon
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this one at Old Town Draught House here in Greensboro.Nice darker auburn color with nice creamy head.Real nice smell of nutmeg and other spices with fruity tones,smelled very appetizing.Something to warm up to for sure good and hearty,medium bodied not to heavy so pretty easy to drink.Good winter style ale from a good craft brewer down here.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4/5  rDev 0%
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 Kegatron
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a clear dark amber with +1 fingers of light tan creamy head. Good retention that leaves a thick smattering of lace behind. The aroma is HOLY SWEETNESS! Rich accents of caramel and toffee with some light citic notes and hop bitterness behind it.

The taste is more of the same. Huge caramel and toffee sweetness with just enough hop bitterness backing it up to reign things in and keep the flavor from getting overly cloying. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a smooth feel yet keeps a fairly prickly carbonation.

Wow, this is just one tasty Winter Warmer. The sweetness works just right, never gets to be over the top, and keeps the drikibility right on target. Nice stuff!

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Photo of wethorseblanket
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%

Photo of mendvicdog
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.4/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a rich garnet-hued body with wispy, seafoam beige head.

Smell: Spicy, fruity aroma of oranges, cranberries, cinnamon and maybe a bit of ginger.

Taste: Beyond the toasty malts, there is a real medley of flavors at work here. For me, I'm picking up orange peel, cranberries, mint, nutmeg, and cinnamon (which really comes through in the finish).

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Moderately carbonated.

Drinkability: Interesting and well-made, but not particularly to my liking.

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Photo of russpowell
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big props to Ddarden for this one, I really wanted to try this when I went back to NC last summer, but alas much like the winter snow, it was long gone.

Pours caramel/auburn with 4+ fingers of pillowy sand-colored head. Above average lacing & head retention

S: Slight toffee & caramel notes& a little vanilla as this warms

T: Toffee & hints of grain & vanilla upfront. Caramel, toasted malt & huge breadyness show up as this warms along with a little herbal hop bite. Brown sugar, choclate & more vanilla show up in the warming/bready finish

MF: Medium bodied & very smooth & low/low carbonation

Drinks so easy, a really pleasant winter warmer. One I think I could session on. I'll buy this if I ever see it again!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Warmly glowing crimson-infused dark bronze that is as clear as the Cold Mountain air. The cap is toasted marshmallow in color with a slight hint of orange; a wonderful complement to the beer on which it sits. It's thick and creamy, in no hurry to depart, and deposits a good bit of lace on the upper portion of the glass. A pleasing look for a winter warmer.

The nose is rich, malty and inviting. It reminds me of warm cocoa with a generous sprinkling of spice. In fact, this is the most cocoa-like (not chocolate-like) nose that I've ever run across. Try as I might, I can't even begin to guess what spices have been added. Warming brings out definite brown sugar notes, upping the ante and making me love it all the more.

The flavor is different from any winter warmer in recent memory. It's perhaps closest to a porter in terms of mouthfeel, even though it isn't very porter-like in execution. The flavor is low in terms of roastedness, leaning more heavily towards milk chocolate, toffee and vanilla. It reminds me of chai, which makes me think that cardamom and ginger are at least two of the added spices. Different and delicious.

Hops play a secondary role, yet their bitterness is noticeable throughout. Unlike most winter warmers, this one favors tea-like bitter over sweet (no wonder the chai comparison comes so easily to mind). I normally prefer sweet and sippable, but it's hard to argue with what the brewers at Highland have created. There's no evidence of alcohol. If forced to guess, I'd say the ABV is in the vicinity of 6.0%.

I was initially a little let down with the body/mouthfeel. I expect the good versions of this style (which this most definitely is) to be at least medium-full and to be slightly chewy. Things have improved with time and warming, but it still favors the easily drinkable side of the continuum over the full, sticky and sippable. I've chosen not to mark it down since it's well within the bounds of acceptable and since it absolutely oozes quality.

CMWA is a uniquely flavored beer from what I've decided is the best brewery in the state of North Carolina. Since winters in the Tar Heel State don't come close to resembling winters in the upper Midwest, there's no need to create a heavy, high alcohol ale to warm the natives. An amazingly delicious one like Cold Mountain will suffice quite nicely.

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
4 out of 5 based on 779 ratings.
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