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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale | Highland Brewing

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BA SCORE
89
very good
317 Reviews
THE BROS
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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:
755
Avg:
4
pDev:
20%
 
 
Wants:
87
Gots:
152
For Trade:
7
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 317 | Ratings: 755
Photo of dgallina
4.47/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1 pint, 9 fluid ounce brown bottle without freshness dating.

Pours clear copper-tinged brown, with thin creamy tan head and great lace retention. Smells enticingly spicy and doughy. Primarily orange, ginger, cinnamon, and anise on a cookie and caramel malt base. Flavor strongly favors the Christmas spices. Doughy anise, ginger and orange are dominant notes and form something of a less-fruity liquid fruitcake. Finishes with gently drying hop touches, big black pepper, and cinnamon. Nicely balanced body keeps this easy-drinking throughout. Very good and the best of the Highland brews I've sampled so far.

 612 characters

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.

 703 characters

Photo of badbeer
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark red color with an off-white head that retains well and gives good lacing. Wonderful smells of cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg, and caramel. I'm digging the taste. It's got a little bit of hoppyness for balance, but this mostly tastes like cinnamon-sugar bread with a little bit of allspice and a caramel finish. Carbonation is on the higher side and body is bordering light. I'm very happy with this beer and will need to get more of it next winter. Great job, Highland!

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Photo of blitz134
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark copper color on the pour, crystal clear body. Single finger off white head which finished in a thin layer.

Spices really come through in the aroma. A nice spiced blend of nutmeg and ginger and a touch of cinnamon. Hops are prevalent with a little pine.

Taste is much more powerful that any other winter warmer I've had, although I still don't find it loaded with flavor. This type of beer is just a bit subtle, but delicious. Overall it has a bit of a caramel sweet body which comes through to start with, then the spices come on with a very nice crispness. Spices are much like the aroma, nutmeg and ginger. Then a bit of hop bitterness comes in and the spices come back in the finish.

Mouthfeel could be a touch thicker, but does a good job coating the mouth well to let the spices come though. Drinkablity is great. This is a very refreshing brew with a nice crispness.

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Photo of thegodfather2701
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a beautiful amber with a billowy slightly off white head. There is some nice cascading and lacing left on the glass.

S-Sweet and malty with a hint of vanilla.

T-Much like the nose as vanilla dominates. It starts out sweet but then ends with some lingering bitterness. There is a nice balance between the hops and malt, with the malt getting a slight edge.

M-Thick and creamy.

D-Very drinkable.

Overall, I am somewhat torn by this beer. While I did enjoy drinking it, it didn't have much complexity. It tasted just like vanilla coke which seemed both a positive and a negative. I gave it a solid 4 across the board and would definitely drink it again, but it doesn't come close to Anchor's annual offering.

 718 characters

Photo of sabrills70
4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pretty medium dark amber with a 1 finger beige head and very good lace. Nice smells are there although they are faint. Brown sugar, cinnamon, raisin. This beer is like nothing I have ever had before. I get a big vanilla flavor mixed with some brown sugar, allspice, and raisin. Leaves a unusual, but good, bitterness on the tounge. Alcohol is barely noticeable. Smooth and complex. Nicely balanced. Very unique. Get some of this if you get a chance.

 457 characters

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

2003 bottling in a 1 liter swingtop bottle.
Tan head sits atop this mahogany brew.
Pleasing aroma of lightly roasty, caramel malt; floral, citrusy hops; and spice.

Taste shows a lot going on in this beer. Lightly roasty, caramel malt. Toffee, brown sugar and spice which likely includes cinnamon. Solid floral, fruity hop balance although the malt wins out in this one.
Good mouthfeel, although you get the feeling the body could be much more if not for NC's 6%ABV limit.
Good drinkability.
A tastey winter treat. Worth seeking out.
A huge thank you to AKSmokedPorter for tracking this one down!

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Photo of humuloner22
3.44/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This one has gotten a lot of attention, especially around the holidays, I have tried it for several years and I do feel that it has lost something this year (2013). It has a nice dark color, the smell is very festive for which it represents. It has an almost egg nogg smell and to a certain degree taste as well. I like eggnogg and I like beer and I do believe that this one balances that pretty well. Most holiday/winter beers have too much of one spice or another but this one balances it pretty well. But, this year did fall a little flat to me. I enjoyed it, its a great beer and much better than most, but there was a bit less of the things I used to like about it and more of the just average ale taste coming through. I like a good ale and this would be a good one by itself, but for a quarter of the price. Overall, I will continue to have a pour of this around the holidays, when I run across it. One thing I would like to try is it on draft, but that is nearly impossible to do, it goes extremely quickly and you have to be at the right place at the right time. I am like Dr. John unfortunately.

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

Pours a deep brown mahogany color with a small tan head and a really heavy amount of lacing. Smells yeasty with a little hint of the malts coming through. Tastes of some bitterness from the hops, plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg, possibly some all spice. A little marshmallow in the background. Like sitting around a campfire. Mouthfeel is nice and thick with a little hiding carbonation. Drinkability is really good.

 414 characters

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

Thanks to greenvilleguitar for the hookup on this beer!

A - Pours a medium copper color with great clarity and a well-retaining, thin off-white head. Some lacing when swirled.

S - Caramel sweetness combines with hints of orange peel, earthiness and a light presence of alcohol. Indiscernible spiciness.

T - Darkly toasted bread, herbal-spiciness, moderate level of bittering. Faint hints of the orange peel-type fruitiness are hidden beneath the maltier character. Even fainter smoky character. Pleasing medium-dry finish with a lingering toasty sensation.

M - Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Smooth, easy to drink.

D - Unlike some other winter warmers I've had, this beer has a nice balance between the spiciness and lovely dark toasted malt. I'm glad I cracked this open in the wintertime and it feels appropriate to the season. Were I to order at a pub, I could probably have 2, possibly 3 pints before moving on.

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Photo of cdizinno
4.68/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Reddish-copper color. Clear with a decent white head and moderate lacing all the way down.

S: NOt too much there. Mild spices, malts and undertones of hoppiness.

T&M: Great taste. Fruity, spicy and smooth. Full-bodied with a nicely balanced hop/malt taste.

Great beer. Highly drinkable just for the holidays.

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

A - Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Pours a dark, murky garnet/amber with a foamy tan head that clings to the surface of the beer.

S - Vanilla, brown sugar,

T - Exceptionally complex. Sweet, almost cream soda like with the vanilla accent, spicy, warm sweet and roasted malt. Teeny bit of hops at the end.

M - Not too thick, a little crispness from carbonation.

D - Delicious. If I ever find my way into one of those ski chalets I hear so much about I'll down some of these around a roaring fire.

 508 characters

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 rtratzlaff
4.8/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served on tap in a 16 oz pint glass.

A deep brownish copper with a light head leaving little lacing.

Aromas are sweet with some spice character. Quite malty and interesting in the nose.

The taste is sweet up front with a cookie like malt character. Then some spice and just enough bittering to create a great flavor of... well a really good beer. Warming alcohol hits the belly and the flavors punch as the beer warms. This beer is a Christmas cookie in a glass. This is too good; I don't want to overanalyze it. Mouthfeel is medium with light carbonation. I could drink this throughout a cold December night. Here's to winter and a great beer to go with it!

 661 characters

Photo of BamaBeerBuff
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a gorgeous copper-ruby color with a thick, creamy light brown head. Sheets of sticky lace are everywhere. Great appearance for a WW

S: Nose showcases some light cocoa, a touch of caramel, hints of vanilla and other delicate spices. A very subtle and enjoyable aroma.

T&M: Fantastic flavor. An initial rush of vanilla creme is met with a light nutmeg spice and a lovely toffee flavor. Light earthy hop flavor comes in on the finish to balance things out very nicely. This is just a wonderfully balanced winter beer. Body is creamy, yet thin enough to remain drinkable.

D: A great brew. Fantastic flavor, balance, and a moderate body for the style. I went through the bomber quickly and will most definitely seek out one of the swingtop bottles soon.

 760 characters

Photo of outdoor7or24
3.74/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle thanks to Kyle. Poured into dogfish head pint glass.
A: pours a clear dark ruby brown body, off white foam fine bubble head, some spotty lacing, carbonation
S: best part of this brew, raspberry, cranberry, vanilla, slight cinnamon, very light hints of hazelnut, hint of citrus hop
M: medium body, creamy
T: roasted malt, hint of rasberry, vanilla, some lite bitterness from the hops, caramel, toasted nut, cinnamon
O: good brew, could drink a few of these, smooth flavor

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Photo of lightindarkness
3.91/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to ahatcher78 for thinking to throw this bottle in the Black Booty BIF.

22 oz capped bottle, consumed at around 58 degrees from a very large, fat-bowled Tripel Karmeliet tulip glass on a heavily snowed wintry day.

A - Pours a very attractive deep dark mahogany color with gleaming sharp ruby highlights. A nice fluffy bubbly khaki head ascends to the surface and melts like snow, leaving a spotting of finely bubbled lace.

N - Smells primarily of malt, with a faint aged tobacco roastiness and sweet caramel. Light candy sugar hangs over brown fruity bread aromas. Maybe a hint of alcohol and some thinly notable stale hay. Fairly nice balance, not too sweet, rather appealing, but slightly underwhelming and modest.

T - A very nicely crafted winter ale, hitting some of the highlights for the style. Heavily malted on the caramelly dark roasted side, with an excellent balance of sweetness to drier roasted nut and more bitter dark bread. Some deep fruit notes of date and fig are present but not nearly as dominant as some similarly styled beers. Flavor thins out momentarily before the finish, becoming somewhat more watery, then rounding mildly back in with a bitter tail end and fading grainy warmth mixed with mild fruity sweetness. Spice is mild and blends into the grainy bread flavors without distinguishable identity, adding a layer of complexity subtly hidden in the overall taste. Deceiving, it has a rather simple overall flavor profile, but with some nicely understated dimension.

F/D - Just enough on the fuller medium bodied side to satisfy amidst the snowy winter chill, yet light enough to remain drinkable around the fire, with dinner, or just a long winter day trapped indoors. Light, soft carbonation adds some dimension to the feel, filling it out some, but lost early in each sip to the fading drier bitter finish. Drinks easily, sip after sip, with a nice malty mouth coating that isn't too heavy but leaves a lingering want for more. After a while though, the flavor becomes somewhat nondescript, the aftertaste resonating with pickled beets and other less desirable flavors, leaving it wanting for more impressive stand out character. A seemingly sessionable winter brew, though the unknown abv leaves me wondering how long of a 'session' I would endure.

 2,297 characters

Photo of krisandajt
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

For me, this beer tells an interesting tale. After a bit of an unexpected wait, I finally get to try it. Sure, a Winter Warmer might not be the best beer to drink on this warm Spring afternoon (the first NEPA has seen in a while), but what the Hell...

Appearance: Poured from a bottle into my DFH Off-Centered pint glass, the beer is a slightly rusty amber color. There's about a half inch worth of dirty white, creamy head. The retention isn't too bad, and there's some nice thick, sticky lacing clinging to the sides of the glass.

Smell: Not as spicy as I expected, but the typical winter spice is definitely there. Very sweet, with an almost caramel kind of smell. So far, so good.

Taste: Sweet like the nose hinted at (caramel), but there's more spice coming through than I would think. The spice isn't overly complicated, I'm getting a lot of nutmeg and ginger. As far as Winter Warmer's go, this is quite good. I'm not a fan of overly spiced beer, but this one keeps it simple enough that I can really enjoy the flavor.

Mouthfeel: A wee bit undercarbonated for my tastes, the mouthfeel is a bit lacking. The body is good, medium- to full-, but kicking up the carbonation would really go a long way.

Drinkability: Not bad at all for a Winter Warmer, and to be honest it's much better than I expected. Easy drinking with some good flavor. Definitely better suited for a cold winter night in front of a fire, but it's holding its own on this warm Spring afternoon.

 1,472 characters

Photo of Paincane
4.31/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Copper amber body with a pretty and creamy tan head. Excellent head retention and lacing.
S: Complex nose including spices and malt aromas. Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice notes.
T: Molasses, cinnamon, sweet malt & nutmeg flavors.
M: Smooth, creamy and warming.
O: Great winter warmer.

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

Pours a medium ruddy brown with a nicley proportioned, inch high, cream coloreed head. Smells weakly citrus and raisin like.Starts off slightly caustic when cold but changes over to a more well rounded fruity malt profile. Brown sugar, cinnamon, raisin, and cough syrup come to mind. Finishes sweetly with an underlying astringency that gives it some backbone. Moderate mouthfeel. A very nice winter brew. Hope I can get an 05 version to sample.

Thanks to GCBrewingCo for the sample.

 486 characters

Photo of LuckySevens82
4.57/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle courtesy of Jason at Knightly Spirits.
Pours a deep reddish brown with about a finger of deep tan head. Retention is lacking, but lacing and collar are quite nice.
Smell is deep cocoa, some caramel, toffee, and slight hops. Dark fruits abound and are all covered in a chocolate scent. Cherries, plums, etc, are present, all cordial and all very nice.
Flavor is profound chocolate, almost like hot cocoa. Chocolate covered cherries, slight to moderate hop bitterness and just a hint of bakers chocolate round this one out.
Mouthfeel is full and wonderful.
Overall, an exceptional winter beer worthy of a cold night or any other night for that matter. This is a beer worth seeking out no matter the cost. I have yet to have an even mediocre beer from Highland, and this exceeds all expectaion. Just darn great.

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Photo of phishgator
4.6/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a22oz bottle. Nice copper caramel color with a white thick head. Hints of toffee and cream. A little bit of spice and a big shot of creaminess are through out the taste. The body is medium/heavy and the brew just coats the entire mouth. A little filling after one so I would say that a bomber is all I want in a sitting, but I will drink at least once a year if I get my hands on it!

 395 characters

Photo of Loki
4.92/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sampled from the 1L wax-sealed fliptop bottle.

Appearance: Dark, ruby brown with a huge beige head that fades to a thin, bubbly covering. Fantastic lacing that leaves behind outlines of winter mountain range.

Smell: Big, roasted candied malts, cinnamon, caramel, and candied sugars. Hints of red fruit and cotton candy. Inticing and surprise. So magical combination of belgian candy, caramelized malt, wild rasberries, and fresh cotton candy with a solid cinnamon and spice backbone.

Taste: Roasted malt, caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg, belgian candied sugar, soft red fruit, and cotton candy. This is like being in a fair in the Belgian mountain forest in the middle of winter. Wonderful combination of flavor that is not to sweet, but keeps the tongue dancing and brings all of your senses alive.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, crisp, clean, perfectly balanced sweetness with a slight spicy hop finish to cleanse the palate.

Drinkability: Superb. The best seasonal I've had all year, perhaps ever! There is a reason it comes in 1L bottles, because once you taste it you want much more and you don't want to share! Fantastic.

Taste:

 1,134 characters

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

Poured a deep copper with a small white head that left good lacing. Smell was almost all vanilla, and a ton of it. Maybe a little honey or caramel in there - something sweet. The taste was more vanilla, with a small bite of spice at the end. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated, it really is a good sipping beer, especially as it warms up. Almost no alcohol taste and overall extremely smooth.

A great and very different winter seasonal and a perfect beer for limited release - delicious and season-appropriate, and sweet and spicy enough that I wouldn't want to drink it regularly.

 584 characters

Photo of Tilly
3.64/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice transparent brown with a huge thick frothy head. Aromas of carmalized sugar, vanilla and light fruits. Tastes complexed. Carmalized sugar, vanilla and light fruit taste! Go figure! Light mouth feel, light with not much bitterness. Nice winter ale.

 260 characters

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
89 out of 100 based on 317 ratings.
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