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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale | Highland Brewing

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BA SCORE
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 | 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
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Reviews: 317 | Ratings: 755
Photo of DefenCorps
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Woohoo! First tick for 2011. I picked this up over Thanksgiving in Asheville after being very impressed with a pint I had on tap (2010 Winter edition).

A beautiful, clear mahogany with a dense, off-white head with excellent retention, there isn't much to show for lacing apart from some patchy foam. Clarity is exceptional, this is a particularly attractive beer. The nose is great too, like I remember it being. A touch of spice is present with cinnamon and mace, I also get some brown sugar and a prominent vanilla note. The combination is dessert-like, but this still smells light. Hops are mild, there's some earthy, mildly leafy and mineral-like hop aroma present. Solid.

The palate opens with a blend of light brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon. A light but simple sweetness, a blend of brown sugar and burnt sugar is present. Notes of vanilla and maple appear in the mid-palate. Drying on the finish with the hops asserting their presence, there's a blend of earthy, leafy bitterness and lingering vanilla. Light in body with medium-high carbonation, this is an enjoyable beer. I preferred this on tap, where it was a lot creamier, but even out of a bottle, it's still the best Winter Warmer out there.

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

One of the better winter seasonals I've had. Red/brown pour, nice whiteish head. Reminded me a little like drinking a windmill cookie, with some caramel toping poured over it. Had this on draft and bottle, definetely better on draft. Also I liked the 2007 version a little bit better, was just a little heavier. Had more characteristics of a Christmas porter to go along with the christmas cookie. I look forward to next year's batch.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.8/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Hazy auburn bronze color with a beige head. A nice spicy aroma and taste (nutmeg and cinnamon) reminiscent of cinnamon toast. A toasty warm feeling great for wintertime. Medium bodied (leand full) and very smooth. Similar to Harpoon Winter Warmer in terms of spice intensity.

[2001 version (1 liter swingtop bottle) Tasted 11/23/02]

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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 Jwale73
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Bucketboy for the opportunity to try this one. 22oz. bottle served in a standard pint. Pours a translucent amber with a quarter inch, loose, off-white head that quickly disperses into a thin band around the shoulders. Some strands of lacing appear during the tasting, but exhibit poor retention. Nose is somewhat muted - light to medium malt with a suggestion of spice. Taste consistent with nose with the addition of some caramel/toffee notes. The spice seems to be be nutmeg. Mouthfeel is light-medium with a lively carbonation which contributes to a semi-dry finish. All and all a pretty drinkable beer for the style. Not at all cloying with enough flavor to make this quite quaffable.

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

After its release from the 1 liter swing top brown bottle, it resides in the glass a slightly hazy deep amber to copper color with a moderate in size frothy light tan head that erodes rather quickly leaving a satisfactory sheet of lace to cover the glass. Nose is sweet malt with hints of vanilla, nut-like, caramel corn also comes to mind, and fresh and appetizing, start is somewhat sweet with a decent grain presence and the top middling in its feel to the palate. Finish is benignly acidic with a delightful hop spiciness and quite dry aftertaste, a quite drinkable beer that I savored over a couple of days

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

22oz bomber, brought from nc by blackie, on his tractor

appearance: pours light but richens up in the aggregate to a deep copper color, a light foamy beige head forms and leaves a light lacing around the rim

smell: loads of spices - nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, touch a clove...definitely smells of the season...gingerbread, light chocolate, graham cracker aromas..smooth hoppiness, touch of pine

taste: quite tasty, very delicate...tastes like gingerbread, quite nice cinnamon flavours, a very light chocolate flavour in the background...some clove, nutmeg, and other spices of the season...fresh but subdued lightly piney hops, perhaps a touch of pumpkin

mouthfeel: a little thin, moderate carbonation, very delicate on the tongue

drinkability: very drinkable

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.06/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle split and poured into a Bruery tulip. No date or info listed on the bottle.

Thanks to my man Onenote81 for the cool sticker and coasters to accompany this brew! I love swag!

A - Beautiful, deep burnt amber in color with great clarity and a short, short-lived, off-white head. Good lace adorns the glass after it's depletion.

S - Sugary hazelnut and vanilla syrup like what's used in flavored coffee drinks. At first there was a blatant Willamet hop earthiness and rustic quality. Toasted Munich malts are in the background and fairly thin. Smells a little fake.

T - Bland toasted amber and caramelly Munich malts with subtle hop notes. Again, the vanilla and hazelnut flavors are far too sugary and syrupy in nature.

M - It's a bit thin and watery in body with a lightly dry finish. Weak bodied for a winter warmer.

D - Not awful or really offensive in any way, although the syrupy addition is a bit cloying. It's just too thin and spice-less for a winter warmer. I'm not exactly sure where the A- positive buzz is coming from with this brew. Thanks for a beer I've never had Jon, I do always appreciate the chance to try 'em!

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.86/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-it pours a transparent dark cherry red color with two full fingers of a thinner off white head that has some retention and leaves a nice lace on the glass

S-the nose is relatively subdued but what i get seems nice. there is some vanilla in there with a hint of caramel malt and a touch of cinnamon spice

T-the taste is a little bigger than the nose, it brings the vanilla right up front with lots more cinnamon than smell would have let on. there is a light floral ester taste and some bitterness towards the finish

M-this is a light bodied beer with the right amount of carbonation. it is relatively smooth with some presence of alcohol

D-its not bad, i like the taste but the body could have been a little fuller. some presence of alcohol also take away from a decent winter warmer.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.26/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured, it has a lovely dark brown color with a nice thick head. Aroma is spicy with a strong hint of cinnamon. The pleasant, zingy taste is malty with spice hints and very little bitterness. It goes down smoothly and is very satisfying. This holiday beer is a delight any time of the year, good by itself or as an accompaniment to a light meal.

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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 twiggamortis420
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Unibroue tulip glass ruby red in color. Has great clarity, decent retention and good lacing.

Sweet caramel malty scent balanced by a delicate floral hop bouquet. Smells pretty simplistic, but nice, clean and fresh.

Wow, this goes down easy. Smoooth. Creamy malt bill followed closely by a nice hint 'o hops for a nice clean finish. Hints of cola, sorghum and coconut. Very fresh and balanced taste. I have been impressed with the few Highland offerings I have had so far. Would have no problem buying some more of these.

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

had this one for a while, think this is last year's version?

a - opened the bottle and filled my unibroue tulip. the beer poured a deep golden brown with a finger full of frothy off white head. when held to the light had a reddish tint. lacing was chunky and hung out. looks great.

s - candied raisins and plums. all malt. very nice. a bit thin.

t - a malt bomb for sure. grapes. nuts. subdued plums. tail of watery bitterness at the end but not much. biscuity.

m - a bit on the thin and watery side.

o - overall kind of wee heavy like but the feel is much thinner.

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Photo of thagr81us
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage. Served from a 1-liter swing-top bottle into a Stone nonic. Poured a deep copper with a one finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, cloves, coriander, and caramel. The flavor was of sweet malt, cloves, chocolate, and caramel. It had a light feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this one had some pretty nice spice mixtures going on here. It was very well balanced up-front and then came through with the typical warmer spices on the tailend. This one is a must try if you are a fan of winter warmers.

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

Lush blurry cranberry red color with a slim, compact capping of lightly tanned creamy foam. Light lacing sticks low across the glass in a thin sheeting.

Aroma is fairly malty with a candied corn sweetness with some soft nuttyness and lower developed dark fruityness that seeps in a bit of cherry and raisin paste. Maple, vanilla, and toffee really begin to emerge as it sits a while.

Taste is a solid malty treat with a soft supple thickness displaying the whole way through, yet uncloying to the palate in any major fashion and making for a nice sipper. Flavors are well rounded and muted with deep, saturated dark fruityness. Mingling raisin, prune, plum, and dark cherry across the front and middle where the peak then hits with a very nice subtle turn into a bakery fresh softness of cocoa, cinnamon, maple, vanilla, and toffee. Which in itself has one uniquely fine drying effect thats all encompassingly great to behold. Excellent balance in flavors and tone. A very tasty subtle treat.

Body is about medium with a soft creamyness that coats the palate well and really sits nice once the peak hits. Then the finish ensues onward into a bakery goodness thats fresh and wonderfully drying without a whole lot of anything but ghostly remains of one well crafted beer leaving an impression on the taste buds.

A soothing drinker of a Winter Warmer. Subtle, malty, with an infused quality of bakery fresh doughnut toppings and fillings. Nice stuff.

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

Appearance – This was brownish-orange in color with a full, beautiful head.

Smell – The deep malts and caramel came out huge at the nose along with some monster sugars. I could also pick up a tinge of alcohol as well. Everything came together nicely at the nose.

Taste – The big, chewy caramel malts dominated this Herbed/Spiced beer. It seemed more like a Brown Ale, but it was tasty nonetheless.

Mouthfeel – This was medium-bodied and well-rounded in the mouth. The balance was this ale’s strong point, IMHO.

Drinkability – This was very complex yet amazingly smooth. It was a pleasure to drink.

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Photo of argock
3.99/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from 1-liter flip-top brown bottle into a clear pint glass. No freshness date. Purchased at Peabody's Wine and Beer Merchants (Boone, NC) for $10.49.

A: Amber with 1-finger off-white head that dissipates quickly and leaves a few spots of lace.

S: Delicious aroma array including caramel and toffee maltiness, some cocoa with marshmallows, floral hops, and interesting but subtle spicing that really works well which include cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. The spicing is not obnoxious like in many winter warmers.

T: The spicing really pays dividends with a varied, complex profile. Caramel-toffee is the leader, but sweet chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardaomom flavors are all there. The spicing is really excellently done -- not overbearing but accentuating the overall flavor of the brew with nice touches to produce a cohesive beer with a little tingle. Hopping is light but not forgotten with some floral, slightly minty flavors breaking through here and there. Vanilla frosting flavor is especially strong in the finish.

M: The only disappointing part of this brew is the thin feel. The body could be chewier. Aftertaste is very spiciy and vanilla-heavy.

D: Easily my favorite winter warmer -- I will be looking for this in-season next time around given how much my wife and I enjoyed this on an overwarm April day.

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Photo of blackie
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 Release

appearance: The pour into my snifter creates a low, off white head that quickly recedes to only a collar around the glass. The color of the beer is a very nice reddish mahogany.

smell: considerable carob aroma, light holiday (pie) spice, hops very hard to find but they're there. Reminds me almost perfectly of my grandma's sweet potato casserole (toasted marshmallows, brown sugar, spice, butter, sweet potato). *Melted marshmallows, candied orange, crystallized ginger, vanilla, toffee.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is maybe slightly less than medium, as is the body.

taste: The same carob I found on the nose is big here. Again I am reminded of sweet potato casserole. The spice is less noticeable on the tongue. Plenty of hops provide a good balance, becoming most evident after the initial flavor rush. *Graham cracker, sassafrass.

drinkability: very easy drinking for such a flavorful beer.

This is my first ever Higland Cold Mountain Winter Ale. A very intricate and complex beer. *I revisited this beer after a couple months to attempt to isolate some more of its nuances.

2006 Release: I was going to make another review for this year's, but it seems pretty simlar to last year. Same rich brown color, and nice retention of the slight head. Buttery cookie dough, spicy bread, and vanilla notes. Light, floral hops. Cinnamon-sugar toast. Seems to be a higher hop profile than last year, but it could just be fresher. At present, the hops block out a little of the aroma and flavor.

2011: Fairly consistent with years past. A Christmas classic for the home state. I will add that, now that it's described on the bottle, there's an evident hazelnut aroma. Picked up a bomber at Bottle Revolution in Raleigh. Gonna let the old scores stand.

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Photo of n2185
3.55/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark, clear copper with two fingers of beige head that recedes into a thin ring with a little lacing.

S: Lots of creamy vanilla aromas with some light spice and caramel notes. Smells like a cream soda.

T: Some caramel malt flavors at first with light cinnamon and other spice notes. Creamy vanilla follows along with some nutty flavors as well. Roasted malt characters also peek through, bringing a slight bitterness.

M: Medium body with lowish carbonation, this beer is a bit on the watery side.

O: A decent beer that reminds me a lot of cream soda. I enjoy it fairly well, but it's not terribly complex and the watery body is a bit off-putting.

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Photo of KYGunner
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%

The adjuncts are noticeable on the nose where vanilla is strongest. Hazelnut, malt, dark fruit, fruit cake, and a tinge of hops.

The front end holds vanilla but more tempered than the smell. The hazelnut comes next and then fruitcake. The fruit is mostly prune. The cake is mostly malty. The end is rather bitter but it's not detracting. The feel is a little too thin.

This is a rather good winter warmer that with a bit more malt could be great.

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Photo of prototypic
4.39/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to my dood, kkipple, for this one. You rock, Dan!

Cold Mountain Winter Ale pours a crimson stained copper color. It's very clear, and has a strong garnet ting when held to light. Really nice color. The head is very modest. It's cream colored and doesn't even rise to a finger in depth. It dissipates very quickly, and leaves light lacing behind. Not bad. The color carries it.

The nose is extremely impressive. It's chock full of caramel and cocoa-esque chocolate malts. It's a little on the sweet side, but not by much. There are definitely some spices in the mix. I'm getting a little cinnamon, vanilla, and ginger. But, the spices are complementary and never take center stage. The thunderous malt base captures the spotlight. Hops are noticeable. They smell mostly floral. Alcohol is never much of a factor. Excellent.

I didn't expect the flavor to live up to the nose, but it does. The strong malty flavors strike first and never relent. Cocoa-esque chocolate blends perfectly with the mild caramel/toffee notes. Spice flavors of ginger, light nutmeg, and cinnamon are subtle, but flavorful. Vanilla is stronger in flavor and works like a charm. Hops are vibrant and add just enough bitterness to really take it up a notch. The hop flavor is mostly floral. Alcohol is light and not all that noticeable. Finishes malty, a little bitter, and dry.

Cold Mountain Winter Ale has a medium body that's nice and smooth. Carbonation is light and doesn't hurt the feel at all. Drinkability is very high. This is a surprisingly unique and tasty holiday seasonal. It doesn't seem too strong. Each sip invites another. Too bad I've only got the single bomber.

I'm really impressed with Highland Brewing. This is the second beer I've tried from them, and each has been really good. I can't say that this is necessarily better than their Black Mocha Stout, but they're very comparable in terms of quality. I can't offer much constructive criticism here. This is good stuff that perhaps shouldn't be tinkered with much. Maybe the look would benefit from a nicer head. Yeah, that's about it. Excellent stuff. Thanks a ton, Dan!

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

Deep brownish red with a fluffy, soapy head. Smells exactly like frosting covered gingerbread cookies...wow. Sweet malty flavor nicely layered with ginger and other spices - mapley figs. Rich and complex. Solid mouthfeel with a fullish body and light carbonation. Pretty darn tasty winter ale...excellent on tap as well if you can find it.

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Photo of tpd975
4.14/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one about this time last year and some how it made its way to the back of the beer fridge where it was forgotten. While doing a little rearranging today I found it and immediately popped it open.

It came via a great trader ByTor2112. Here goes the review.

A: Pours what appears to be a nice nutty brown hue. When put up to the light it is actually a beautiful dark clear ruby red. The head is nice and tall, fluffy, tan in color. The retention is wonderful with nice lace noted.

S: The aromas are not bold (though this one has sat a year) but what is there is rather nice. Nice sweet brown sugar with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. A light fruit juice aroma that I can't quite put my finger on.

T: Wow, this is one wonderful brew. What a mix of flavors. Vanilla right up front with cinnamon and a touch of ginger swirled in. Rich brown sugar and a splash of grenadine. A nice nutty malt carries thoroughout. What a wonderful holiday brew. If I had another bottle it would be opened on Christmas.

M: Medium in body, smooth and creamy with perfect carbonation.

D: Wish I had shared this one with the local tasting group, but it was a real treat to enjoy all to myself. One of the best holiday beers known to man.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.39/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle
Served in a perfect pint

A - It is copper colored with amber highlights. I think it had an inch of tan head. It was gone so quick that I missed it.

S - I was surprised to get a noseful of chocolate and caramel. It smells like a candy bar.

T - The taste matches the smell with intensity and ingredients.

M - Medium

O - This beer tasted nothing like I expected. I expected the typical nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, etc. It is loaded with intense chocolate and caramel. I'm surprised how flavorful this beer is considering it's a winter warmer and this is June. I would drink the shit out of this each winter if I were in the distribution area.

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Photo of Mantooth
3.2/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I've given this brew a shot many times. Folks in NC go crazy for it, but I cannot for the life of me understand why. I don't care for the color - too light. I don't care for the nose and taste - the spices are barely present. I can't stand the feel - super thin beer. It's definitely better out of the bottle than it was on draft. It's an okay beer and that's it. If you've not had it - you're not missing anything.

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