Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale | Highland Brewing

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317 Reviews
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Highland Cold Mountain Winter AleHighland Cold Mountain Winter Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Highland Brewing
North Carolina, United States | website

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
Reviews:
317
Ratings:
756
Avg:
4
pDev:
20%
 
 
Wants:
87
Gots:
153
For Trade:
7
User Reviews
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Reviews: 317 | Ratings: 756
Photo of ONUMello
4.04/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle dated 10/27/15 poured into a pint glass
A: Reddish brown with a one-finger head
S: Caramel, roasted malts, baking spice
T: Tons of vanilla up front, some caramel on the midpalate then a malty finish. Each is a bit simple/unidirectional on their own but it makes a nice journey start to finish (if that makes any sense)
M: Medium-bodied, a touch sweet
O: This is a tasty winter ale. I can only imagine drinking it in the midst of baking Christmas cookies

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Photo of Ryan011235
3.22/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter on 12/14/10

11/23/10 etched on the bottle

Much appreciation to CruisaC for hooking me up with this Highland beer that has eluded me for years

Pours an amber brown color that has a rusty hue in the glass. One finger head holds briefly before receding to a patch of bubbles covering 75% of the surface. A little bit of lace sticks to the glass.

Malty with spices aplenty, the nose is reminiscent of sweet cinnamon bread. Notes of earthy hops waft about amid hints of nutmeg. Enough spice & bitterness to grab the nostrils without going overboard. Slight spot of honey & gingerbread as it warms. Smells good.

Ah, the taste doesn't back up the strength of the aroma. With each sip comes a clustered cavalcade of cinnamon & other spices leading into a dry bitterness that is much like tea leaves. Toasty bread notes toward the back half (a faint notion of yeast is had on the first few sips). The flavors seem disconnected; uninterested in mingling.

The feel is surprisingly thin & watery. It doesn't help that the carbonation is prickly for but a moment up front, losing momentum mid-swallow. A minimal grittiness toward the end. Finishes dry with toasted bread & an artificial spiciness. Not much alcohol heat.

Drinkability is ok; I'll have no problem finishing it. That the flavors don't gel & the feel is loose makes for a scattered sort of beer. Possibly a tad better as it warms, it isn't enough to save this one for me. It the taste were blended as well as the nose & the feel were more robust, this would be a winner for sure.

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Photo of mentor
4.67/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bomber generously provided by GCBrewingCo. The bottle in my hand tonight is different than the one pictured on this site. I think the bottle I'm enjoying now was patiently aged by Mike for two years. I reviewed one of the pictured bottles about 6 months ago and loved it so much I've been trying to get more ever since.

Pours a half-finger light brown head over a crystal clear brown-rust liquid. Smells...like gingerbread cookies! Biscuit malt, sugar dough, light sweet ginger, and hazelnut. Tastes...like gingerbread cookies! Graham crackers, maple-flavored sugar candies, caramel, sweet hints of ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Biscuity malt, but also just a ting of a sour that I think doesn't quite fit. The graham crackers persist during the swallow and the caramel develops into more of a toffee. The aftertaste has some chocolate and is quite dry on the flat of my tongue. Medium in the mouth, but its got a relatively thick viscocity. Carbonation is mild and quite in tune with the flavors in this beer.

This beer is an example of flavors that are well balanced and complimentary. None of the flavors rise to dominance or fade under pressure from other flavors. Instead, they tumble around like vegetables in a simmering stew. Dancing along the surface and bumping gently into others, sending each off in a new direction. I absolutely love this beer and am already thinking about how I might get a case of this when it's next released.

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Photo of daliandragon
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

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

Good density to the one finger head, mixture of all bubble sizes, dissolves down into a steady half finger, dark cream brown in hue, above average stickiness to the lacing. Mostly copper orange colored liquid, reddish brick tint, very clear and holds the light inside well. Light cinnamon, ginger to anise spice swiftly pretties up the nose, the caramel notes show restraint, good fullness in the peach, apricot fruit scents, overall just unfolds at a slow, relaxed pace, nothing flashy. Full-bodied, the carbonation is rich and broad adding to its creamy mouthfeel. Milk chocolate powder, hard toffee, brown sugar and sweet baking spices dominate flavorwise, however, it's really just not that sweet. Wheat germ, granola notes as well as a faint stoniness. The apricot, cherry fruit lower here but more floral. It's almost a "cerebral" sort of beer, a contemplator, which one assumes is the intent.

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Photo of GJ40
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled from a 22oz bottle in a standard pint glass.

A - Light brown with good clarity and a moderate tan head that dissipates quickly.

S - Sarsaparilla and a touch of coffee.

T - Caramel, sarsaparilla and a touch of hops. A hint of bitterness and a mild sweetness. Spiced but not overly. It's very smooth and balanced.

M - A smooth, silky consistency with a nice low carbonation.

D - A nice complex and interesting flavor. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would..

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Photo of mntlover
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark mahogany color with a nice tan head that dissapears and leaves spotty lace. The aroma is big on malt caramel sugary coated fruits plums, raisins and figs with a touch of spice. Taste is big on flavor, molasses like, nice and sweet big on malt with fruit entering in the middle and finishing with light spice and candy also some vanilla flavors lingering. Mouthfeel while not full feels big lots of sugary malt flowing over the taste buds imparting sweetness. Drinkability is good glad it comes in liter bottles gives you plenty to enjoy, hopefully next year it will be stronger with the 6% cap gone. A nice little winter warmer can see why they sell so fast, glad I was able to find me a couple.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.6/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A beautiful, deep mahogony color is poured from a 22oz bottle. A luscious, tan head is formed atop the brew and leaves a small amount of lacing down the glass.

Smells like the holidays to me. Gingerbread and nutmeg and cloves are big in the nose. I long for some more holiday flavors and spices from this beer. If I could bottle this and put it in a holiday candle, I would. Maybe I will just pour it into an potpourri steamer.

"Um, I'll have the gingerbread with a side of cinammon. And go big on the malts please" is my order to the barkeep as I desire a second helping of this delicious beer. Also a great balance with some fruity hops as well. Perfectly balanced and great taste.

Hop bitterness and sweet, smooth character of the malts. Sweetness and tartness of the spices. "Thank you sir! May I have another!" This offering from Highland has me longing to be in my homeland of Scotland, tooting tunes on the ol' bagpipe, and a gallon of this sweet nectar in my kilt. Cheerio!

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Photo of Brutaltruth
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From the 22 oz bottle in a snifter. This nice winter ale pours a clear reddish tinged amber with a nice head of off white foam that settles to a THICK big bubbled ring, thick layer, and very nice lacing. Nose of light cinnamon spice, light toffee and caramel, light vanilla, and subtle bittering hops. Flavors exceed the nose with caramel and vanilla on the front and sides, light citrus notes on the middle of orange and cinnamon, and herbal hops rounding out the back. Overall a nice winter ale with good carbonation for easy session-ability and a light bitter hops aftertaste---only detraction is this is a touch watery, but still solid for the style.

Cheers

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Photo of brewcrew76
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle

A - Slightly hazy auburn with a thin tan head that disappeared immediately.

S - Malty with butterscotch, roasted nuts, cocoa, dark fruits, raisins and maple syrup. Hints of spice in the background but I can't pick out what exactly.

T - Cocoa, dark fruits, raisins, cinnamon, maple syrup, bready all with an herbal tea likeness. Reminds me of christmas cake or gingerbread. Very fitting for a holiday beer.

M - Medium body and smooth which creates a soft creamyness.

D - A very good winter warmer that truly tastes like a holiday beer. A little much for me to drink more than a bottle but would make a nice sipper by a warm fire.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The clear mahogany liquid in the glass is topped with a half finger of off white to tan, tightly formed bubbles that lace the glass nicely as you slowly drain the glass.

Aromas are sweet malts and spices...lots of spices...plus sweet caramels and a hint of milk chocolate.

Flavor is probably the most complex of any winter warmer I've ever tried due to the mixture of spices in this brew. I honestly can't identify them except to say I sense cinnamon, clove, orange, maybe even pumpkin, as well as caramel and bitter milk chocolate. Hops at the end really change the impression of a sweet winter warmer into something else.

Nice alcohol warmth as you finish your swallows.
Very interesting and very nice.

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear, dark copper with carbonation. A one-inch creamy manila head lasts a while leaving a fine coating of lace.

There is lots of caramel malt with sweet tea and brown sugar. Warming brings out cocoa. More warming intensifies cocoa.

This one is very similar to sweet tea on entry, powdered hot chocolate mix immediately follows. The finish is short and modest.

A medium body with soft, prickly carbonation and no alcohol. This one has light astringency and a smooth texture.

This is a good beer for a cool afternoon. Have a couple while relaxing.

This one is far better if allowed to warm!

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Photo of shand
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

This beer pours a beautiful deep red color with a tiny head that laces very well. Aroma is sweet and spicy, with a solid amount of vanilla, sweet malts, and holiday spices. The taste is absolutely delicious, with a large amount of hazelnut/cream soda flavor on the tongue that I really didn't expect among the sweet malts, vanilla and spices that I did expect. It's perfectly balanced with the spices coming in a bit stronger on the finish to stop the overall impression from being too sweet. The mouthfeel is slick and with a perfect level of carbonation, and the drinkability is very good. Overall, this is an absolutely fantastic winter warmer. I'm glad I know a store that still has some of these left, because I'm going back for more.

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Photo of rajendra82
3.54/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Started getting the beer this year in Georgia in 22 oz. bombers (without the flip top), so went head and picked some up at Bullock’s on Sandy Plains in Marietta to sample what the North Carolinians have been raving about for so long.

The body came out deep reddish brown with a smallish foamy head that started off at one finger thick, and stayed at that level for a while. The smell was just absent, with even deep inhalation revealing almost nothing, except some timid floral to citric hops. The taste on the other hand was much more expressive, comprising of sweet caramel malt with just a hint of chocolate, winter spices (ginger, cinnamon, and clove), and citric hops all complimenting each other quite nicely. Much lighter in body than most Winter Warmers, with the lively carbonation sparkling across the tongue like a soda, this felt more like a spice enhanced Bitter. Quite easy to drink, and relatively low in ABV, this is very suitable for the milder Southern climate, with its pseudo winter.

May be next year, they can pump up the recipe to the next level, now that the cap has been popped,

 1,109 characters

Photo of jmarsh123
3.64/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a somewhat clear red-tinged brown with almost no head.

A cream soda aroma. Lots of vanilla with some caramel sweetness as well.

Tastes follows the nose. Lots of up front sweetness with a good amount of vanilla. Towards the end of the palate the cream soda aspect really comes to the forefront. There's a little bit of a metallic flavor in the aftertaste though.

This beer is a bit thin for a winter warmer and carbonation levels are good.

This is almost a great beer. I love the vanilla aspect and it smells sublime, but there are just a few minor things preventing this from being what it could. Still pretty enjoyable.

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Photo of Tilley4
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a beautiful dark amber color with a beige head... Really beautiful looking brew... Looks like a Winter Warmer should..

Lovely aroma of Christmas cookies, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg... Smells very sweet..

Not quite as sweet as I was expecting... I'm actually getting quite a bit of hops out of this along with that sweet sugar cookie flavor and the vanilla.. Finishes fairly and dry and surprisingly boozy... Weird...

Looks and smells the part of a tremendous Winter Warmer but the taste doesn't quite do the aroma justice. Its still a good brew but I have had better WW's.

 584 characters

Photo of ElGordo
4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Winter 04/05 Vintage, 22oz bottle

Pours a deep, brilliant ruby red with some brown highlights. Small, off-white head lingers around the rim. Rich, sweet malty aroma with accents of raisins and brown sugar. The first sip made me smile. A lot. Sweet, subtle malt character up front mellows into deeper, roasted malt towards the back of the mouth. Lingering notes of raisin, brown sugar, and a faint bit of toffee. Body is substantial but not too thick or syrupy, yielding to a pleasant, smooth foam. Very drinkable for a winter warmer, also. Damn, this may be the best beer I've had that was brewed in NC. As an aside, this was an almost perfect complement to the slice of apple-pecan-walnut pie I had for dessert.

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Photo of brother_kenneth
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
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 cindyjeffsmith
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

appearance: Brown mocha. Robust tan head.
smell: Malt, subdued hops. Pleasant.
taste: Very mellow and subdued Winter Warmer.
drinkability. This growler did disappear quickly. Not sure of the ABV....maybe 6%, 7%? Not a beer I'll be hunting in the future to be honest. Avery's Old Jubilation much preferred, but a nice brew on a fairly cold Ga. winter night.

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Photo of Oxymoron
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

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Photo of ksimons
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

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Photo of Urbancaver
3.86/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty reddish orange. A touch of white head. A very nice colour. Smells sweet sweet sweet. Cinnamon as well on the nose with a touch of vanilla. Tastes very busy. Vanilla, cinnamon, some light nuttiness. Lots going on in this beer. It's really quite tasty. Thick boozy mouthfeel. Overall pretty tasty.

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Photo of DCon
4.21/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on-tap @ Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria in Asheville, NC for $4.50. Tapped from an unknown tap handle (since sitting @ a table) into a 16oz Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria Pint Glass.

Aroma- Has a ton of caramel aroma and nice malt behind it. Not too strong but sometimes it doesn't hit until the taste in this style.

Appearance- Received with a 2 finger, frothy head that lasts for an unreal time.

Flavor- This brew starts with light spices and a dominant caramel flavor! VERY smooth and has a sweet finish. Can't get much better than this.

Mouthfeel- Medium Bodied, Light Carbonation, Lacy on the palate, and great smoothness!

Overall Impression- Fantastic! Not as strong as most Winter Warmers, but ALL of the attributes of this one made up for it. If given two words to describe this one, it would be Creamy Caramel. Get your hands on this one!

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Photo of number1bum
4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Deuane, via ClockworkOrange, for a 6er of this.

Pours a tawny copper color, pretty clear, with about a finger and a half of beige head. Head keeps pretty well, with a full lace and some very nice sticky webbing on the sides. Coats the glass well.

Smells of sweet caramel and toffee, with a good amount of vanilla too. Smells a bit like butterscotch. Starts to open up more as it warms, with a nutty aroma, some cocoa and a bit of sweet orange.

Taste is really complex, and there's a lot more going on than the nose let on. There's much more fruit flavor - orange, cranberry. It's spicier than the nose too, with more of the cinnamon coming through. There is lots of sweet caramel here, although with the vanilla plus some buttery flavor it has a butterscotch quality to it. And then there is a nuttiness to the beer, plus some earthy bitterness in the finish. This is some tasty, complex stuff.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with average carbonation. Pretty smooth, although could maybe be a touch creamier.

What's nice about this beer is that it's not just a spiced up malt bomb like a lot of winter warmers. There's so much more going on. Definitely one of the more interesting, and tasty, winter warmers I have had in some time.

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Photo of zac16125
4.19/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into a Stella goblet
2014 vintage

A: Dark mahogany, 2.5 fingers width of tan head has good retention before dissipating down and leaves lots of lacing. 4.25

S: Chocolate, vanilla, caramel/toffee, hazelnut, cinnamon. The hazelnut/chocolate combo reminds me of nutella (I love nutella, btw). Nice aromas, but as a whole they are quite mild. 4

T: Really good. Lots of hazelnut and chocolate, again the taste reminds me of nutella, I also get some roasted malt, vanilla. Tasty 4.25

M/D: Smooth, medium body, carbonation on the lower end which is appropriate, has a feel of a “bigger” beer, in a good way. Drinkability is above average. 4.25

O: I very much enjoyed this, more so than I thought I would. I’ll probably add this to my “once a year each winter” lineup. 4.25

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
4 out of 5 based on 756 ratings.
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