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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale | Highland Brewing

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89
very good
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
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
Reviews:
317
Ratings:
759
Avg:
4
pDev:
20%
 
 
Wants:
87
Gots:
155
For Trade:
7
User Reviews
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Reviews: 317 | Ratings: 759
Photo of RyanC84
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Most recent 2009 vintage.

It's 29 degrees in Charleston, SC. Is there a better time to crack open a winter warmer in the Palmetto state?

A vigorous pour produces a creamy off-white two finger head that fades considerably but never disappears. The beer is a thin and somewhat bizarre hazelnut amber mix. Guess I was expecting something a little darker, but an attractive pour regardless.

The nose on Cold Mountain is something special. Sweet malt, lots of vanilla, spice, and a tiny hint of oak. No hops to be found here and I'm ok with that. This one smells like Christmas.

The taste is good but not great, perhaps a bit one-dimensional. Palate is dominated mostly by vanilla and oak. Some caramel and spice, but the vanilla-oak combo dominates the flavor profile.

I was expecting a heavier beer, but am pleased with the results. A thinner body makes this winter warmer an easy drinker, but you might want to split this one with a buddy. The one-dimensional flavor profile limits how much you'll be consuming in one night.

Very solid winter warmer from Highland.

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Photo of elgiacomo
2.84/5  rDev -29%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

2009 22oz. bottle.

Pours red/copper/brown with a small off-white head that dissipates quickly to a light ring. Very little lacing.

Sweet aroma, caramel malt, vanilla, some dark fruit.

Flavor is underwhelming, some black cherries, caramel malt, vanilla, spice, but rather weak and watery. Somewhat medicinal.

Mouthfeel is low on carbonation, pretty thin, yet manages to get a bit sticky long after the finish.

A fair amount of local hype on this one and I was not terribly impressed for my first one. Coulda got an '08, but I will check it out again next year.

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Photo of wagenvolks
4.06/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed this on-tap in 2007, decided to re-visit it thanks to atsprings, who included this 12oz as an extra in a recent trade.

Poured into a standard pint glass a crisp, burnt amber color that thins to ruby at the edges. Not much head, but what little bit of manila foam that forms sustains itself well and clings to the glass to provide some attractive lacing webs. Very muted aroma...not sure if I got an off-bottle, because I remember liking the smell of Cold Trail quite a bit. Faint hints of toasted caramel malts and pecans (ah, just read the label: hazelnut extract). Sweet vanilla and cotton-candy notes pull through more so as it warms with a hint of floral hops.

Delicious flavor, with a rich, toasty caramel nuttiness that smacks with sweet buttered toffee and a superb balance of resinous hops that add just the right amount of bitterness. Medium-thin body with a tight carbonation level and a biting, semi-dry finish. All in all, an excellent, sessionable beer that helps keep Highland as one of the top 5 NC breweries in my mind.

{Edit: just noticed I rated the on-tap version exactly the same for the "big three" of appearance, taste, and aroma. Nice.}

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Photo of clemtig76
3.45/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

20oz brown bottle picked up at CBX in Charleston, SC. Pours out a beautiful dark amber color with ruby highlights and a nice fluffy beige head. A really beautiful looking brew.
Faint sweet aroma of vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Taste is where this beer fails me, my sample had a lingering metallic aftertaste that just would not go away. Last years version was what I expect from a winter warmer. This year Highland missed the mark with me.

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

A clear but dark mahogany color with a fair off-white head that settles quickly to a whispy ring with decent lacing. The aroma is a solid chocolatey malt with herbal hops. Not huge but very pleasant with a kiss of ginger nutmeg. The flavor brings lots of tasty sweet vanilla and an herbal bite. There's a nice toffee malt blended in for what I find to be a really nicely balanced brew. It's medium bodied with a smooth somewhat viscous feel and a decent fizz to liven things up. This vanilla theme offers some spice notes that are subtle and fulfilling final touches on this very enjoyable seasonal ale. Very drinkable too!

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Photo of Tiklmelmo
4.07/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big ass (1L) flip top bottle poured into a large tulip glass. Received from gford217 on SS09. Thanks Grant!

A - Clear, dark caramel / amber with minimal off-white head.

S - Big malty vanilla candy on the nose. Maybe a very slight hint of spice, but smells more like nice english barleywine.

T - Again lots of malt, but some earthy hops in the background. Slight hints of spice (nutmeg?), but definitely not heavily spiced like some winter warmers. A tad more bitter than I'd like, but overall good.

M - Pretty good, but a hair thin / dry. I could go for a hair more residual sweetness to balance the bitterness.

D - Not sure the ABV but certainly doesn't smack of alcohol. Assuming by the style that this is in the 8-10% range, it's certainly quite drinkable.

I normally am not a huge fan of winter warmers because they're overly spiced. This one is definitely not one of those beers. Like I said previously, it reminds me more of an english barleywine. Very enjoyable and well balanced. First beer I've had from Highland and I enjoy it well enough to drink the whole big bottle.

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

My main man TimmyP sent me this gift out of the blue! You are the man!!

Dark brown/copper pour with a nice off white head.

Getting cinnamon, brown sugar, caramel and toffee in the nose.

Tastes very sweet! Milk chocolate, brown sugar, nougat and holiday spices dominate. Taste like a Milky Way candy bar.

Nice mouthfeel and medium-bodied. A very nice take on a winter warmer and I'm feelin' fine!

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

Thanks to Bhalter8 for sending this along. Poured a nice amber color into my glass with a thin white head. The nose smells like candy, more specifically candy canes. It's very subtle but noticeable. The taste does not disappoint. Lots of candied sugar, sweet malts, with hints of nutmeg and ginger bread? It's not overdone or trying to do too many things. It's complex but blends well. The spices are right on, not too overpowering. Medium body, excellent mouthfeel and very very drinkable. This is by far the best winter/seasonal/spiced beer I've had to date.

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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 ImusBeer
3.44/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Draft, from Taco Mac, Suwanee, GA

Came with about a finger of off-white head, a tan color. The beer was a dark amber, almost brown not quite see-through but clear of haze. Lacing occured as I drank.
The smell was not very complex, I detected only oak. First taste gave me butterscotch along with Molassas, Malt, and a Whiskey aftertaste.

Mouthfeel was light with a slight bitterness and some sourness. Medium to low carbonation. Very flavourful and hardy, a nice Brown Ale.

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Photo of rpjonesga
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

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!

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Photo of glid02
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours a clear "old-penny" copper color with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of light caramel malts with hints of toffee and good amounts of vanilla. As the beer warms the vanilla aromas intensify.

Tastes good. Mild caramel malt flavors up front are quickly joined by hints of toffee and large amounts of vanilla flavors. Midway through the sip a touch of leafy hop flavors enter into things before fading into the background to make way for a mildly sweet finish.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a smooth thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I didn't have a problem finishing my glass and could have another.

Overall this is lighter on spices than many winter warmers however I have to say that I enjoy it more than many winter warmers. Well worth a shot.

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Photo of Thur123
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This brew pours a dark ruby red out of the bomber with very little khaki head and a somewhat hazy look. The smell is wood spices, like cinnamon and mahogany maybe. There is a lighter sweeter smell that I can't exactly pick out, and the malt seems complex but restrained.

Glug glug glug

Well, this is pretty good. The flavor this with big roasted malt characters with a nutty taste in addition to a slightly chocolate aftertaste. At one point this reminds me of Kaluha, in a good way; after the cocoa taste is a kind of creaminess that's blended with winter spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg. By the way, also towards the beginning of the flavor profile is a slightly bitter hop bite that soon takes a back seat to the crazy malt goodness. The moth feel works well on this one. Over all this is the best winter warmer I've had, and it's the fullness of flavor and the complexity that does it for me, if this is average, I can't wait for greatness.

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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 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 chaz410
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Got this seasonal fav at Brawley's!
Pours a deep red amber body with a thin white head that deminishes quickly.
Smell is sweet with caramel backbone and loaded with mild spice notes, ranging from corriander to vanilla. Unlike previous years I've had, this year had a fairly tart hop essence.
Taste is sweet and tart with a nice blend of earthy hops and caramel malts. Finishes nicely with spice blended into the grassy and earthy hop character. When it warms a little, the sweet malts come out A WHOLE LOT! Let this thing get to around 55 degrees and enjoy. Definitely my favorite seasonal this year...again!

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Photo of bgarrity
3.52/5  rDev -12%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

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Photo of sholland119
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this '07 vintage in a growler from Loki in GatM. Thanks, Kipp.

A-Pours a clear ruby amber with a thin tan head and no lacing.

S-Sweet caramel malt, a bit of toffee and a little alcohol warmth.

T-Sweet caramel, brown sugar and some raisin with a little bit of nutmeg. Very nice.

M-Medium bodied, almost a bit thin for the style.

D-Tasty, very nicely aged. I will enjoy the rest of this growler.

HV

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Photo of CHADMC3
4.29/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a walnut brown body with a semi-foamy, semi-creamy, deep tan head packed with dense bubbles of carbonation giving way to a pleasant sticky lacing to match.

This is a very unique balance of hop bitterness and sweet caramel malt in the aroma. Almost a candy like quality to the aroma as well as dark fruits, perhaps raisins, and even a little cream or vanilla. As the beer warms the spice becomes more apparent to the nose.

The palate is equally interesting, but very different than what the aroma suggested. Much more sweet malt, caramel, molasses, vanilla, possibly cocoa and sweet nuts, and a hint of spices, all which hide the faint hop bitterness.

Medium to full in body, creamy, just a bit of spice, and medium carbonation. This is a hearty winter brew.

Thanks to my sister for getting this to me as a present from NC, this was a great beer. I'm enjoying it a little late in the season, but I will be requesting this again in the future. One of the better examples of the style I have had in a while.

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Photo of Gyle41386
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass.

Pours a dark brown and amber color with crimson highlights. A finger of tan head retains pretty well and leaves behind some nice lacing.

Malty nose with lots of spices and vanilla. Maybe some cocoa and orange peel, as well.

Pretty sweet flavor. Milk chocolate, toffee, caramel, vanilla. The spices aren't as pronounced as they are in the aroma, although they come out a bit with some warmth. Maybe a little bit of hop bitterness in the finish.

Lighter body than I expected, but it's still easily medium. Dry finish. Incredibly smooth and easy drinker. Plush feel. Absolutely no alcohol detected. I'm definitely going back to buy the 1 liter swingtop version.

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

22 oz bomber poured into a pint glass.

A - Dark brown with a lingering head.

S - Molasses, toffee, sweet malt dominate the smell

T - Rich, earthy, and sweet. A little bit of spice comes through in the end though. Could use a bit more balancing in my opinion.

M - Very smooth, medium bodied.

D - A little bit too sweet, but still very drinkable.

An all-around greater winter beer from my favorite local brewery. I hate that it took me so long to get around to reviewing it, but it's still very enjoyable!

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Photo of dancinwillie
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to turtlemoye for this one. I got it from a LIF he did, in which I didn't even win! I've been waiting to drink drink it, and I decided I'd better get around to doing just that. So here it goes.

Looks pretty thick coming out of that bottle. Head is fluffy, and cratered. Slow carbonation swells and releases sluggishly. As it drops and the bubbles become less dense, they spread out and look like under carbonated home brew heads. Color is dark red, and almost the shade of plum.

Aroma is nutty sweetness, almost peanut brittle. Unknown earthy spicing.

Sweet with a little bitterness, though not hoppy. Earthy and wholesome, like some really good multi-grain bread. Spicy, with a little oxidation that reminds me of an old, Old Ale. In the background: maple syrup and a little pumpkin pie flavor. As it warms, it gathers more of an Ale fruitiness, and again, I reminisce of pie fillings. This time more of a tart cherry, and maybe a little blackberry too. Toasted wheat berries.

Medium bodied, leaning more towards the fuller end of the spectrum. Sweet finish.

Overall, I'm really pretty impressed with this beer. I tend to rush a bit in my reviewing, and tried to slow it down here. I'm glad I did. Thanks again turtlemoye, I was thrilled to receive this and enjoyed drinking it. Now I just have to get going, and come up with an LIF of my own. Cheers!

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

22 oz bomber I picked up at Arbor Place Beverage in Douglassville, GA for around 5 bucks or so. Been meaning to get around to some Highland brews. Served up in an imperial pint glass.

A: Pours a pretty nice dark brown color. Held to the light you get a really nice amber with those rich red hues. This beer is nice and clear with a really nice and lazy carbonation activity. The initial pour yielded a perfect finger of head, that is slightly off white in color. head has some decent retention, falling eventually to a white top cap. Got some lace sticking on the glass but not a whole lot. Still a really good looking brew.

S: Malt bomb, yo. Tons of caramel sweetness coming out here. Got some nutty toffee and plenty of sweet ass molassess. There seems to be a touch of spiciness in here with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. That spice is minimal though. There is also a slight smell of a good cigar in the background. This is all malty goodness.

T: Malt, yet again. Tons of malt that doesn't quit. Caramel malt is sweet and rich. Really nice molassess sweetness as well along with some brown sugar. The toffee is also present. Slight pine hops peaking through adding a light resin touch along with some of the spicy qualities. Touch of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon can be found, really bringing out those winter flavors. There is just a slight hint at some booze in here, maybe a touch on the bourbon side. This beer wants to showcase the malt and succeeds.

M: Ah its a bit thin for my liking. Its a bit of a thin medium. Doesn't seem to have that malty wieght that the flavor indicates. Carbonation is a bit on the heavy side, but keeps this smooth and a bit crisp. No hint at ABV that I can tell, so I couldn't even guess where this sucker falls. Aftertaste is all malt. *Edit* As I laid in bed shortly after killing this bomber, I experienced the most pleasant warming feeling in my belly. On a cold night, it was very comforting and soothing. Sneaky ass alcohol.

D: Pretty drinkable for a malt bomb. The slightly thinner feel really keeps this one easier on the drinking. With this having such a sugary malt presence, it doesn't attack your palate with syrupy coating at all. With that said, I do kinda wish this had a bit more weight and was crafted into a bit of stout. Still, its a great beer and has some great tastes and smells. Overall, a good experience but I could absolutely see this getting better.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Deuane for sharing a bottle of this at his recent tasting. Poured from a 22 ounce bomber into my glass and appears a clear deep cooper, almost brown color with about a finger of light tan head. The aroma and taste remind me of an orange tootsie pop. Notes of caramel and cocoa are also evident. The taste is much more complex than the nose would lead you to believe. Medium bodied and satisfying with medium carbonation. I'm looking forward to tracking a few bottles of this down next season.

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Photo of ffejherb
3.68/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz. bomber. Thanks to Deuane for sharing.

A - Clear copper body with dark amber tones and one-finger creamy beige head that settled to a wispy film and produced modest lacing. Virtually no carbonation was present.

S - Maple syrup and molasses sweetness up front with some earthy herbs and spices. Spicy character is subtle, however, with scant traces of cinnamon and clove. Some licorice also finds its way into the mix. Overall, nose is quite sweet and malty.

T - Malty and spicy up front with mild earthy and herbal notes. The maple syrup presence is quite apparent. Hints of molasses, caramel candy and toffee also come out in the flavor. Hop bitterness is virtually non-existent, though, with perhaps just a smidgen of earthy bitterness in the finish.

M - Medium body with a somewhat thick, syrupy texture and soft carbonation. Very sweet on the tongue. Finishes with very mild bitterness on the palate.

D - Cold Mountain isn't overly spiced like many other winter ales, which I enjoyed. It also has quite a lot of malt character. Another solid brew from Highland.

Brewslut's Quote of the Day:
"It smells like reception sticks."

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
4 out of 5 based on 759 ratings.
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