Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale is back in action for its 20th year. The beer is officially the longest running seasonal in the brewery’s Asheville, North Carolina home.
Stylistically, the brewery calls Cold Mountain a winter warmer. Honestly, this beer is really unique and in our minds really doesn’t fit that style. Imagine a caramel colored, malt forward ale that isn’t roasty, bitter, or rely on a boozy finish for flavor. Highland really doesn’t disclose the spices in Cold Mountain, but we are placing our bets on hazelnut and vanilla. Perhaps even a light touch of cranberry. Not knowing really makes every pint of this more fun.
We are all in agreement here at Beer Street Journal that Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale is one of our absolute favorite seasonals every year. Two full decades later, can it be called iconic? We hope so.
To celebrate the double decade mark in 2016, the brewery released an Imperial Cold Mountain edition at the brewery only. A beer we hope to get our hands one one day.
Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale is available in liter and 22 ounce bottles, as well as draft, seasonally.
Style: Winter Warmer (w/ Spices)
Hops: Cascade, Mount Hood
Malts: 2 Row, Brewers, Pilsen, Chocolate, Wheat, Caramel 40/60
Availability: 22oz Bottles, Liter Bottles, Draft.
Latest Return: Winter, 2016
5.2% ABV, 28 IBUs
Anchor Christmas Ale is an annual tradition from the San Fransisco, California based Anchor Brewing. This year marks their 42nd release of the popular winter warmer. While the recipe and the artwork on the label are different every year, over 40 years of perfecting has made Anchor Christmas Ale a widely anticipated annual release. This year’s edition is no different.
This year’s Christmas Ale has a strong malt profile enhanced with wintry spices. The beer has a deep mahogany brown color with a creamy, tan head and boasts aromas of fruitcake, molasses, and fresh cut wood. The beer tastes of a roasted caramel malt, with notes of spiced chocolate and nuts. And it has a rich, smooth, and velvety mouthfeel. -Anchor Brewmaster Scott Ungermann
While each year brings innovation to the beer itself, half of the story is also in the ever evolving label. This year’s tree artwork is themed after the story of the “1000 Mile Tree,” a solitary pine discovered in 1869 in a barren landscape during the construction of the transcontinental railroad. The artist James Stitt also included a person sitting atop the “1000 Mile Tree” with a beer, “honoring an old legend that railway passengers sometimes attempted to climb the tree.”
Anchor Christmas Ale 2016 will be available from mid-November through mid-January. You can find it in 6-packs, 50.7oz. magnum bottles, and on draft in select locations.
Style: Winter Warmer
Availability: 6 packs, 50.7oz Bottles, Draft.
Release: November 2016
Great Lakes Barrel Aged Christmas Ale, a barrel-aged edition of the wildly popular seasonal beer, releases again this November.
Great Lakes Barrel Aged Christmas Ale, a winter warmer brewed with honey, cinnamon and ginger, is now aged in bourbon barrels for six months. The result is an even more popular edition of the cult classic, with added vanilla, wood, and smokey flavors.
Hark! A heavenly chorus of spices and honey and a fanfare of oak and vanilla flavors resound with each joyous sip of our bourbon barrel-aged Christmas Ale. Holiday spices and sweet honey are wrapped up with notes of wood and vanilla, adding depth that’ll keep you a-wassailin’ all season long.
Great Lakes Barrel Aged Christmas Ale is a 22 once bottle offering. This is a limited release found exclusively at the GLBC Gift Shop on November 26th, 2016.
7.5% ABV, 25 IBUs
Deschutes Jubelale is now in it’s 29th year of bottling, placing this beer among the longest running seasonals in America.
Each year is a little different from the last. Brewmaster Veronica Vega mentions that fact along makes Deschutes Jubelale one of the most talked about seasonals. This winter warmer uses EKG hops, which lend the beer spicy and herbal notes.
This year’s artwork was created by Bend, Oregon based artist Karen Ruane. The piece is titled “First Snow”, created from a process called marbeling. The by floating paint into water or some other viscous liquid, you mimic the designs found in stone and marble.
“With this piece I wanted to capture the change in the air, the smells, the excitement and festive atmosphere around the anticipation of playing in the first snow of the season. I absolutely love the packaging, and am so honored to have my artwork featured on it. I think the designers did a wonderful job showcasing the art of marbling and I hope that this rather rare art form is able to get a little attention from this year’s Jubelale.” – Karen Ruane, Artist.
Deschutes Jubelale began its return to shelves in late-October, 2016. Available in 12 ounce bottles and draft, seasonally.
Style: Winter Warmer
Availability: 12oz Bottles, Draft. Seasonal Release.
Latest Return: October/November, 2016
6.7% ABV, 65 IBUs
This year, on the 20th anniversary of Cold Mountain’s release, another beer will join the ranks for a limited time – Highland Imperial Cold Mountain Winter Ale.
Yes, the longest running seasonal will have some “imperial” company. The extremely popular base beer is Cold Mountain, that features flavors and spices like vanilla and hazelnuts, amplified with a bigger malt bill, resulting in an 8% alcohol by volume edition. (The regular edition of Cold Mountain hovers around 5% ABV.)
The brewery describes Highland Imperial Cold Mountain as being a bit more chocolate-forward, with hints of fruits and nuts.
Bigger and bolder, Imperial Cold Mountain Winter Ale perfectly accompanies holiday gatherings celebrations. This special version of our beloved season commmemorates 20 years of an Asheville favorite. Malty in body, and lightly hopped, the brew is rounded out with intense, tasty hints of spices, nuts, and fruit.
Highland Imperial Cold Mountain Winter Ale will be a 22 ounce bottle and draft offering, starting November 10th.
Style: Imperial Winter Warmer (w/ Spices)
Availability: 22oz Bottles, Draft.
NoDa Cold Crash makes a seasonal return this week. This will be the Charlotte, North Carolina brewery’s last release in 2015.
This brew will help make your Holidays merry and bright with its malt forward and dark fruit-accented flavor profile. The hearty, ruby red ale includes spiciness from a blend of distinctly winter herbs, a subtle hop presence, and a warming 6.3% ABV.
NoDa Cold Crash is a draft only offering.
Style: Winter Ale (w/ Spices)
Availability: Draft only. Seasonal release.
Latest return: Late December, 2015
Natty Greene’s Red Nose Winter Ale rejoins the lineup in in November. This the fifth and final seasonal of the brewery’s 2015 portfolio.
Natty Greene’s Red Nose Winter Ale is a red ale, brewed with orange peel and spices.
“Red Nose is brewed with the holidays in mind. The base is a classic American red ale, a beer that’s slightly sweeter than an Amber, made with plenty of caramel malts and just enough hops for balance,” said Natty Greene’s Head Brewer, Scott Christoffel. “We then bring in a spice profile that supports the aroma of the beer: fresh ginger for a nice bite, orange peel for just the right amount of tartness, and cinnamon for a clean top note.”
Natty Greene’s Red Nose Winter Ale is available in 12 once bottles and draft until the end of the year.
Return: November, 2015
6.8% ABV, 21 IBUs