Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale | Highland Brewing

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89
very good
318 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:
318
Ratings:
776
Avg:
4
pDev:
13%
 
 
Wants:
90
Gots:
162
For Trade:
7
User Reviews
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Reviews: 318 | Ratings: 776
Photo of merlin48
4.41/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 edition, just extracted from a fresh case. One liter swingtop bottle crowned with clear plastic shrinkwrap. Served slightly chilled into a St Bernardus goblet.
Pours a clear, dark mahogany body that exhibits a radiant ruby clarity when held to light. Small khaki head quickly falls into a lasting collar and cap. Sporadic sheet lacing is satiny in appearance. The radiant ruby body boasts an exceptional and regal appearance.

Aroma is more subdued than the 2004 version, but is quite intriguing. Toffee, red McIntosh apples, vanilla, and a mysterious floral note comprise the bouquet. My ladyfriend has an excellent sense of smell, and says the floral note is roses. It seems like heather to me. Very lightly spiced compared to last year's version, and there are some vague spicy notes that I can't yet identify.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Carbonation is moderated, but still manages to produce a nice tingly sensation.

Taste is exceptional, yet enigmatic and challenging in its superb complexity. Caramel, buttery toffee, fruity red apple, and a floral note that adds a mystery hop bitterness that provides an ideal balance. Spiciness is nicely restrained, with hints of vanilla and allspice. No hint of alcohol, but I suspect that they've cranked this one up a notch, to 6.5 to 7% abv. Lots of flavors and ingredients at work here, mingling together in an exquisite balance. Spices are a minor player compared to the 2004 version. Very tasty, very unique, and stunning in its wonderful drinkability.

The 2005 Cold Mountain is complex and enigmatic. lots of things going on here that are beyond my limited comprehension, but this is an exceptional experience. Very unique, very tasty, and an absolute pleasue to drink. I spent an hour with this liter, and enjoyed every sip. Very smooth and goes down way too easy. So tasty, I was tempted to crack open another liter. Would love to have a keg of this for a Christmas party somewhere.

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Photo of Vancer
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From brentk56 in a nice trade – thanks man!

Let me just start off and say – what a freakin’ superb winter ale! THIS is what a warmer should be, geez what a tasty treat!

Started off with a great pour – clear and beautiful mahogany brown, ivory head that just coats the ol’ Cordendonk tulip.

Almost sneezed from all the winter spices in the aroma. But the taste is where this one leaves others behind. It’s all there; chocolate, vanilla, coffee, nutmeg with a massive spicy malt backbone driving the whole load.

Drinks like a fine cognac, glad I have a 1L hammer bottle of this great brew.

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Photo of Deuane
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Thirsty Monk South.

A-Bright brownish copper with a medium tan head. Head reduces to a thin cap and leaves nice thick, rope like lacing

S-Wafting notes of chocolate, with accenting vanilla, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. All of this melds very nicely and does not overwhelm.

T-Semi-sweet caramel along with some drying cocoa/chocolate malts up front. A potpourri blend backing with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, cedar and orange making this one feel like a Christmas cookie in a glass!

M-Medium bodied and fairly rich without being sickly sweet or too spicy, Long lingering flavour profile.

D-One of my most favorite spiced winter brews. A near perfect combination of malt and spice that makes this one SO easy to drink!

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 22 oz. bottle sent by brentk56 some months ago, January 2007? Poured to a standard pint and enjoyed on June 16, 2007 - not exactly the middle of winter.

A: Pours auburn-orange and quite clear with bits of sediment suspended throughout the glass like a fine powder. offwhite 1/2-finger dwindles down quickly to a soap-bubble ring of foam. Smoke-thin film on top and minimal lacing.

S: Very sweet - vanilla, butterscotch, holiday spices, caramel. Has a baked goods-type enticing aroma and a very sweet one at that. Yummy.

T: Many of the smells come out in the flavor: cinnamon bread, nutmeg, vanilla, allspice and bitter cloves. A bit of maple syrup and some fresh, minty hops. Besides those flavors, I get caramel, toasted nuts and a slightly cocoa finish. Sounds sweet? Well, it is, but somehow enough hops entered the mix and balanced out those sweet malty flavors to succinctly delicious whole. Good job, Highland!

M: Crisp at first, then mellowing to an enveloping warmth. Carbonation is subdued and (unknown) alcohol level is nicely concealed. Some sticky cocoa malt in the medium body, but bitter in the end.

D: Quite an enjoyable winter brew. Even just days before summer, this one was still satisfying and delicious. I've read that the brew recipe changes each year, but I'll attest to the the fact that the 2006 batch was good and was still drinkable as of June 2007. Thanks for sending this one, Brent.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.72/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a crystal clear ruby amber. The head is tan, tall, and lasting to lace the glass.

The aroma is malty and bready. Similar to a scotch ale. Some slight gingerbread spices are present in the aroma. Also a toasty aroma and caramel. A very complex aroma to say the least with fruitiness, spices and malt.

The flavor is complex with malt sweetness, hop bitterness, spices and a multitude of hard to distinguish flavors in the background. Definite fruitiness, raisins or other dark fruits.

The finish is dry with muted spices and slight bitterness. The body is medium to medium full.

A very complex beer with quite a bit going on.

1 liter wax coated flip top bottle - 2003 vintage.

(Thanks to Loki for letting us know where to get the beer and Beerinator for picking it up!)

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Photo of flexabull
4.11/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of Loki. Thank you very much!

Cool looking big 1 liter bottle. Pours with a nice clear copper color, and a good head.

Aromas are faint, but what I do notice are some sweet and creamy notes.

Flavors are creamy with a lot of spice flavors, with vanilla being the most prominent. There is also a slightly smokey and apple like quality to this as well. Very interesting and flavorful beer.

Mouthfeel is good, maybe a touch light for my tastes though.

Very drinkable beer. Well made, and very interesting. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Certainly worth a try.

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

Pours dark caramel with brown hints, moderate dark white head bu leaves no lace.
Aroma of sweet caramel, toffee, bread, chocolate and some nuts.
Flavor of sticky, sweet toffee, molasses, honey, faint chocolate, cassis. No real bitterness at all.
Mouthfeel is relatively, light bodied hyper sweet with some moderately, dry bread tones and finishes with a hint of spicy hops.
Drinkability is good, very sweet which makes tough to put down a lot but very good.

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Photo of Chaney
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Ranked #7 in the Winter Warmer category. What the hell is Winter Warmer anyway? I'm thinking it's an alcohol infused cola.

Served in an Olde Hickory glass.

A: Poured a crap-brown color, infinitely cloudy, and without much of a head at all.

S: "Kinda cool" - Bill Cosby. Coca-Cola with added malt. Digging it.

T: Infinitely drinkable, not ale-like in any way, and malty.

M: Carbonationally excellent, no lacing left on the glass. Hell, it still reminded me of Cola.

O: The fact that this one is at the top of its style class in the Winter Warmer category doesn't surprise me.

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Photo of jsanford
3.94/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Swing-top bottle/growler poured into a Tulip Glass.

A - Pours a beautiful dark burgundy with a dense, creamy off-white head that settles to a thin cap, leaving soapy lacing clinging to the glass.
S - Sweet malt, vanilla, and a touch of spices. Fairly diminutive nose, not much going on here, even after it's warmed a bit.
T - Cream soda in beer form. Seriously, lots of authentic vanilla cream flavor with a touch of bitter roasted malt, spices, and a slight hop finish. A very unique tasting Winter Warmer, really stands out from the crowd.
M - A bit thinner then most Winter Warmers, maybe a touch watery. Probably a bit under medium-bodied overall, with a silky-smooth mouthfeel and good carbonation.
O - A very drinkable Winter Warmer, unique with it's heavy Cream Soda character. So delicious!

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a clear rusty amber with almost no head. The nose is a tremendous caramel and a slight woodiness (maple). The taste is just as sweet with almost no spice and almost no carbonation after sitting a few minutes. There is almost no alcohol present either. Overall it's an interesting beer to have mid summer, but it's not too bad.

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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 Onenote81
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was the third installment of City Bev's Freakin' Firkin Friday. Had a pint at the store yesterday. Pours a hazy brown-tinted copper. A small off-white head caps it off. Faint lace sticks around. The nose is potent with strong notes of vanilla, nutmeg, toffee, toasted pecans. Fantastic nose.

Extremely smooth, creamy mouthfeel, as was expected with the cask. Carbonation level is minimal. Perfect sipper. Flavor profile mirrors the nose somewhat with vanilla, cinnamon, sweet malts. The spices are more muted in this version of the beer, but this is still a splendid winter dessert brew. Perfect to sip on a crisp, cold evening.

*Note: This is the first beer that I have tried from bottle, tap, and cask.

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Photo of RedneckBeerz
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a Shiner Bohemian Black Lager pint and the brew is a nice clear amber/red color with a 1/2" lightish tan head. As this beer is consumed it produces ringed lacing on the pint.

The smell is heavy sweet malts and cinnamon.

The taste is sweetness from the malts and cinnamon with no bitterness or alcohol to speak of.

Medium mouth feel and lowish carbination help to produce some stickyness on the corners of the lips.

This is probably one of the sweeter beers that I have tryed to this point in my world beer tour, but it is my opinion that it is pretty spot on as far as style description goes.

I would highly recommend this beer to anyone wanting to find a great English Winter Warmer, but for me this style is a little to sweet to seek out. Perhaps with dessert this would be great, but as a cold weather sipper I'd look for another style.

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Photo of atsprings
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, I was certain this beer was gone for this year when my friends and I visited Tyler's taproom in Carboro and found they still had this on draft! The waitress said they had pulled it aside several times so they would have it later than anyone else. The beer possessed a deep rich ruby color with a thin off white head that was moderately diminishing and left very spotty lacing on the glass. The aroma was of layers of malts with some mild spices present as well. The taste presented a very complex spice variety on top of a great malt backbone. There was a presence of both vanilla and dried fruit.The mouthfeel was low in carbonation and the alcohol was very well hidden by the spice blend. This is a very great beer for a cold winter night, I just wish it was available in stores for more than 2 to 3 weeks each year.

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

A fluffy three finger light tan head has nice retention leaving scattered lace as it fades. Body is an incredibly dark brown with ruby notes when held to light. Nose is big and malty with some rich spicey roasty notes. Candied malts awaken the taste buds on first sip. Like well made pie crust sprinkled with cinnamon. Nicely balanced and very smooth throughout the palate. A wonderful winter brew or year round pleaser. For that matter. Maybe a hint of cherry pie filling also. Very pleasant mouthfeel on the sweet side. I would love to have lots of these in my fridge.

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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 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 rangerred
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber into a pint glass.

Pours a clear dark reddish brown with just a tiny tan head.

Smells of caramel, malt and spice. Some cinnamon and orange. No detectable hop aroma.

The taste is much like the smell although caramel and toffee come through quite strong. There is also an orange flavor that fades to an assertive hop bitterness although it is not too severe.

Overall this is an excellent beer and one of the best examples of the style that I have had. While I do feel it could use a little more alcohol to add warmth, the body does not suffer due to it only being 5.8%. I will definitely seek this beer out again.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a Duvel tulip

A- pours a nice cherry red with a half finger tan head that sticks around for awhile. Nice looking beer, minus the head

S- huge aromas of raspberries and cinnamon coming through...wow, excellent and very unexpected

T- a nice punch of raspberries to start, then moving into some nuttiness and a little cinnamon to finish. Very unique, and very good

M- medium bodied, on the thicker side. Maybe a little too much body

O- most winter warmers are overspiced and generally taste the same. This one though, it's a nice changeup from the normal, and something that's done very well. Well done, Highland

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Photo of clvand0
4.67/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big flip-top bottle. Thanks Sam. Pours a brown/amber color with a small head that hangs around nicely and leaves some lacing on the glass. The aroma is a wonderful balance of diacetyl, chocolate and caramel. The flavor is right on with the aroma. Lots of caramel and chocolate with a diacetyl that reminds me of marshmallows. The body is on the light end of thick and the drinkability is very good.

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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 joe1510
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

32oz Swingtop

Huge thanks to, Wilson, for this monstrous drink. Cheers, dude! Glug, glug, glug from the hefty liter bottle. A chestnut brown liquid fills the glass with enough clarity to read the interwebs through the body. Ruby highlights accentuate the sexiness. The ecru head is short but stout, with the boldness of immovability. Lacing sticks in sheets.

The nose is complex but seamless. It won't hit you over the head but give you a massage instead. Ginger flashes upfront with candied citrus peel up next. Dusty cocoa, a touch of spicy hops, and rich caramel all seamlessly interact. Soda bread maltiness make for a subtly sweet base. Raisins and toffee rise from the depths with warmth.

While the nose was subtle and complex the flavor is straight up robust and comforting. Caramel, soda bread, and toffee all play large, complex roles. Raisin sweetness is soft and well rounded while the ginger adds a quick zip of vibrancy. The candied citrus peel is hidden but peeking its head free. A dusting of cocoa powder is the cherry on top. You've heard of comfort food; here's comfort beer.

The body weighs in at moderate. I thought this was a little low on the first few sips but as I drink more I don't believe I'd change a thing. A bigger body would be too large for such a well rounded, subtly but deeply complex libation. Carbonation is soft enough to allow each flavor to be processed while active enough to keep any stick away. Semi-dry finish.

Cold Mountain is a handsome beer. Every aspect is a hit in my book and spiced beer isn't usually my thing, in this case it's done with a deft hand and great knowledge. Smells delicious. Tastes immeasurably complex, well rounded and comforting. Tastes like a fruit cake that's actually good. Like how you think a fruitcake would taste if you've never had one and were told its ingredients. Delicious! Thanks, Wil!

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Photo of JDV
2.32/5  rDev -42%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

bottle courtesy of DrBayern
Rich maroon brown with a fluffy beige head. Smell is sweet, malt, vanilla, cream and perhaps some butteriness or butterscotch. Kind of reminds me of scotch ales, which i'm not too keen on. Taste is smooth vanilla, cream and caramelly malt. A good beer, in all honesty, but something about the strong sweet vanilla like aroma that was a bit cloying or unpleasant to me.

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

Thanks to scifan for the bottle.

A: Nice looking browning copper color. Quite a bit of clarity for this beer. A quarter finger of white head with minimal lacing. Really nice looking when held up to the light.

S: Really great malt nose. Smells like an oatmeal cookie. Dmeadows shared a fliptop at a Captain Lawrence release and that bottle had much more cookie in the taste and nose but it is still there. Quite a bit of sweetness as well.

T: Oatmeal cookie. Just a great taste. No spice which is great because often this style is too spiced. Tons of malt finishes very clean.

M: Little syrupy. Full bodied.

D: Really great beer and one of the better examples of the style I have ever had. Thanks again to scifan for the bottle.

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Photo of JISurfer
4.83/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow, this is one hyped up brew! I must say though, it lived up to my expectations. I thought it tasted more like an old ale, than anything. It had the kind of "olde" taste to it. The appearance on this beast was magnificent. Solid amber color, with one kick ass head. The head was an tannish/off white color and was as thick as a Guinness head. It even lasted the whole brew. I detected hints of citrus, some hops, as well as caramel malts, and some various other flavors that I wasn't sure what they were. It had a very creamy mouthfeel and was quite refreshing at the same time. The drinkability was easily a 5.0. If I were marooned on an island, I would have to bring this stuff with me. This is no doubt, the best brew I have had from Highland thus far. Tommorrow I do get to try the Mocha Stout, which I have high expectations for as well.

Major big props to Disclosednot for hookin' me up with the Cold Mountain. He saved me from a deep depression of not being able to find this stuff anywhere. Thanks bro!

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Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing
4 out of 5 based on 776 ratings.
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