Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale | Highland Brewing

BA SCORE
89
very good
779 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
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:
163
For Trade:
7
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 779 |  Reviews: 318
Photo of duceswild
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

Photo of paulish
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of mikesgroove
3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow, was I shocked when I walked into the Oasis liquor store and saw a couple corked and wrapped liter bottles of this sitting on the shelf yesterday. This is the one local winter brew I was just never able to track down a bottle of and never go around to going down to get it on tap. I immediatly grabbed a couple and drove home and put one in the fridge for when I got home later that night. Pulled the bottle from the fridge and unwrapped the top. Pop the gasket and it was indeed still frsh, the sound of the pop let you know that immediatly. I don't know why I had wanted to try this, from the reviews it seemed just a standard winter warmer, but for some reason I was always wanted it, perhaps it was the novelty of the liter corked bottle that I always wanted, but alas I have it and on to the drinking....

A - This poured a deep hazelnut brown, very dark color with a bit of a rustic red tone mixed in. I nice one inch or so off white head formed on the top and quickly nestled into a thin film, that glazed over the top of the glass. Very thick lace was left behind as the glass was emptied. A nice clear appearence wa evident even though it was soo dark, and streams of bubbles could be seen breaking towards the surface from the bottom of the glass. Overall it looked as I had expected, a nice color and consitency for your typical winter beer.

S - First aromas to hit the nose were undeniably Vanilla, and lots of it for sure. once you got past that there was a nice earthy like tone, with hints of an oakish quality with a mix of cinnamon and maybe some nutmeg. Not much of a hop presence here at all, rather the lack of it made this very intresting. Had your classic yule time smell and brought me back a little, If not for the 95 degree heat I would turned on the fireplace to set the mood.

T - Very big flavor here was evident from the very first sip. Big vanilla oak chips almost completely over rule all others until the flavor settles down. I almost could swear this was an oak agen beer, as I picked up that kinda taste almost immediatly. Lots of caramel and cinnamon tones start to come through as it gets a little warmer. A nice full flavor profile. THere is definatly no watering down of the flavors here. The vanilla and oak came on a little strong for me and never really backed off enough for me to fully enjoy this. No ABV listed for this, and I could not find anything online, but there was no hint of it detected. If I had to guess I would put it in the 6-8% range, probably in the lower part as it did not feel that strong. Overall a very full winter flavored brew, perhaps a bit too much vanilla.

M - very very full. A very rich creamy like feel, this really filled me up quick, and I did not realize it would be that way, as I was the only one drinking and had this whole liter to drink now. Was not oily, nor very crisp. The flavors were allowed to really show themselves through ample carbonation.

D- At first this was really very drinkable, however the large amount of vanilla and oak put into it really started to build up after a while and make it hard to finish. This bottle would have been great to split between about 3 people, but by yourself, one of these is enough. Not too say its bad at all, it is a very good brew, but the flavor will wear you down after a while.

Overall this was a little bit bigger then I had expected. I would not say it dissapointed me, not at all. On a cold night I would love to throw one of these back. In fact, I really look forward to the first autumn chill, and will have to invite over the family to crack the other bottle I purchased. But as an all winter long session beer, a bit too strong for that. All and all, a good brew, with some nice inginuity from the boys over at highland. The quality of the brewing going on in Western Noth Carolina continues to impress me. I always appreciate thinking outside the box, and also, in cases like this where you just put you own twist on a classic warmer, well done, and definatly worth a try.

 4,037 characters

Photo of ZEB89
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

Photo of Slatetank
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this at Deuane's 40th Birthday bash - poured chilled from the bottle into my 1/2 pint.

A - A chesnut brown shade with good clarity, and ordinary cream cap

S - A sweet nutty scent w/ mild cherry hints and light vanilla-like floral aroma

M- A mild sweet taste w/ malty presence which seems to become semi-dry with mellow carbonation and the sweet entry mellows toward the end w/ nutty light spiced finish

T - The taste is pleasant with mellow sweet tinges of caramel and gentle stone fruit tinges. The vanilla taste comes forward w/ malt presence that is borderline sweet and nutty w/ creamy mellow toasted flavor.The beer seems well balanced with a hint of spice flavor in the finish

D - A sweet brown winter ale, which has a nice creamy smoothness and yet moderately complex with both spice and malt presenting a balanced drinkable brew.

 850 characters

Photo of mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 01/22/11 notes. Shared by Lunch at a recent tasting. Thanks Paul.

a - Pours a dark amber color with one inch of white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of butterscotch and vanilla. Also a little spice and bready malts. Pretty good.

t - Tastes of watered down vanilla and butterscotch, spices, bready malts, and toasted malts. Good, but as I said, tasted watered down.

m - Thin to medium body and low carbonation.

d - A nice winter warmer. Taste was a little lacking, but still enjoyable. Would have again.

 528 characters

Photo of PA-Michigander
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

Photo of thatoneguymike
3.73/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

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

Received in trade from KarrHeel03, thanks for the opportunity.
Pours a clear reddish amber color with a stingy white head that recedes quickly but laces the sides quite nicely. Smells of sweet malts and spices. I pick up some cocoa, brown sugar, molasses, plums or prunes, and a touch of alcohol. There's a subtle spice in the nose that is quite non-descript but really pleasant. Taste is sweet brown sugar and alcohol up front. Dark fruits and a tease of hop bitterness on the tongue mid way through. Medium-dry sweet malty sugary finish. Ample carbonation, slick syrupy mouthfeel, medium bodied brew. I really enjoyed this one on this cold snowy day. I think it all comes together really well.

 695 characters

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Lunch. Thanks Paul!

A: This brew appears clear and rusty orange / brown in color. The head is thin and wispy, but manages to generate a fair amount of lacing upon the glass.

S: Scents include vanilla, malt, alcohol.

T: This beer is quite different than I would have expected from a winter warmer. The flavor is remarkably similar to how I would imagine an alcoholic cream soda tastes. I happen to enjoy cream soda, so I'm totally cool with this unusual take on the style. Vanilla is the most forward flavor, followed by some sweet malt and light spice.

M: Thin bodied, with a fairly low level of carbonation.

D: A fun and interesting brew, but not something of which I would want too much.

 711 characters

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

Photo of tdm168
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber with a soft layer of white head that has little retention. The nose offers some mild spice and some intense vanilla extract notes. The flavor is much the same; the vanilla dominates with some subtle spices and a little fruitiness throughout. The fruitiness is cherry-like, both tart and sweet. The finish is a little medicinal to me. I think it's the combination of vanilla and fruit. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and lightly carbonated, but it's viscous and syrupy at times.

I'm glad that this isn't just another winter warmer with ginger and cinnamon. I like the fruitiness here, but I find the medicinal off notes in the finish a little unpleasant. I probably wouldn't have this again, but I do like what they were going for with this one.

 764 characters

Photo of chippo33
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%

Photo of imperialking
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

Photo of AlexFields
4.52/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

EDIT: the recipe for this beer changes every year and this review is based on the winter 2010-11 vintage.

I've had this beer many times, mostly from bottles but also on tap. This review is a summation of my love affair with this awesome beer rather than notes from any particular tasting.

A: Just looks like a brown ale. Which makes sense, considering they use a brown ale as the base. Nice brown color and a really nice head for a brown ale, but nothing remarkable.

S: At this point it's hard for me to separate the nose from the taste on this, as when I smell it I can't help but imagine what I'm about to taste. That said, the nose is weaker than the taste. Smells sweet and creamy, recognize as a brown ale but obviously some spices going on, maybe some vanilla.

T: Amazing! The brown ale base is apparent, but much sweeter and richer than a standard brown ale and with little hint of the slight roasty tartness common to brown ales. Instead, you get huge creamy flavors. Winter spices here for sure, the kind of stuff you would put into a pumpkin pie, but they work their magic here in a subtle way and don't dominate the flavor. Some vanilla flavor too. It all works together perfectly.

M: Extraordinarily smooth and creamy. Like drinking silk, if silk were a tasty beverage. The mouthfeel is the most unique and memorable thing about this beer, I always look forward to it and it always matches or exceeds my expectations. Never had anything else quite like it. Just fantastic. Almost like a cask beer coming out of a bottle.

Overall: One of my all time favorite beers. Before I had this beer, I had very little regard for anything described as a "winter warmer," and in fact I still haven't had anything else from that category that really impressed me, but I like this beer so much that I'm willing to afford respect to the category just based on what Cold Mountain proves its potential to be. I just wish this stuff were easier to find outside of Asheville! A few bottles a year is not enough.

9.4/10

 2,017 characters

Photo of dvmin98
4/5  rDev 0%
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

 404 characters

Photo of 22Blue
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of SadMachine
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.84/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a ruby-tinted caramel coloring with a thin, sparse, surface coating of foam. Aromas of roasted nut sweetness, plum, dates, raisins, berries, toffee and caramel in the backbone, and a subtle cinnamon spicing. Smells are rich, but light enough to refrain from overpowering. Flavors are roasted and rich forward, with a tart and tangy berry and nut sweetness blending on the palate, with some woody and subtle bitter highlights. The body is robust, but light, with a transition into a crisp, clean finish. The aftertaste is more of the caramel and toffee sweetness, although some fruity notes do linger through. Easy drinker and full of flavor.

 694 characters

Photo of Duff27
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%

Photo of VeganUndead
4/5  rDev 0%

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

Hmmm, it's hot-as-heck in July, 90+ all week long..great time to break open a winter warmer, right? Right!

22-ounce bomber poured into 16-ounce goblet, a deep brown hue, nearly plum in places, with slim cocoa/cola-toned head.

Aroma: dark fruits, and nuts, sweetness, molasse and maple syrup, sugar beets, ripe and spicy...very interesting, and quite unique.

Taste: yum, ...same flavors noted in the nose reappear on the tongue. Full-bodied, and incredibly smooth, while delivering copious amounts of sweet, delicioius flavors. A rich and relaxing brew, sweet candyish flavors, a hint of toffee, a wiggle of caramel. Ends a bit dryly, much appreciated.
Yum, I say again, tas-tee!
What could be better for a mid-summer morning?

 736 characters

Photo of Cynic-ale
4/5  rDev 0%

Photo of sendbeer
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

Photo of Wasatch
3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to slcbrewer for this brew.

22oz. Bomber

Pours a slightly cloudy amber color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy tannish head, some sticky lacing follows. The nose is sweet, malty, and lots of caramel. The taste follows the nose pretty much. Slightly dry finish. Medium body. Drinkable, a nice little WW, but not that high in alcohol content.

 356 characters

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.