I had intended to finish a write up on another winter ale I tried recently. But yesterday I grabbed a growler of Highland's Cold Mountain and plans quickly changed.
I've heard people talk adoringly about this beer before. I was only mildly curious at first, but then last week I found myself rushing to my local growler fill* because I had read he was tapping a keg of it. Unfortunately he was only promoting it for the following week and I had conveniently skipped over the date. I attempted to talk him into tapping it a little early for me but I failed miserably. But the wait was worth it. I even came away with a free glass!
Enough of that, onto the tasting. The color is a rich amber and the head was nice and frothy. I didn't catch much with the nose but the taste is a joy to the taste buds. Now let me come clean, I'm a sucker for vanilla. And this is a beautiful blend of malt, vanilla, some hops and spices. I get a good bit of alcohol on the back end, enough to make me think "Well, that's not going to be good." But then it finished really smoothly with some more vanilla and a hint of hoppy bitterness.
Now, one thing I've been trying to do more of with these winter ales and stouts is let them sit and warm up some. The tastes usually benefit you for your patience. The first glass I had of Cold Mountain went pretty quickly beside the grill. But the second glass I forced myself to enjoy slowly. And the warmer this one gets the more the vanilla mellows into the spices for me. I don't know that it's better, just different.
And that's what I like about winter ales. Their character mellows some and changes a bit as it "ages" in your glass. I give Cold Mountain high marks. It went really well with my steak and sweet potatoes. It also went well standing alone in front of the Falcons game. Grab some soon before the season is behind us.
*I have a post on growlers coming soon. If you're a fan of fresh beer and America, you're not going to want to miss it.