There was a recent post asking about the hype around Cold Mountain. “I don’t get it,” the poster inquired asking others to help fill in the blanks. There was nothing malicious about the inquiry. Simply, this release is different from what many of us may be used to. Cold Mountain is a great beer and is always a signal that the holidays and colder weather is ahead. Here in Knoxville though, it is a beer that is relatively easy to find.
Cold Mountain is a brilliantly marketed beer and has been for quite some time. Highland knows how to get the word out and how to engage the craft beer community whether it be a beer release or raising funds for a cause, Highland does an excellent job. Further, Highland Brewing Company does a wonderful job with each of their beer releases – celebrating each seasonal and new variety with a festive send-off from the brewery. These are always fun to be a part of. Cold Mountain is a bit more. For three days in the hills of Asheville, North Carolina Cold Mountain is poured and bought with great revelry. I’d say this is the closest thing to a beer homecoming that I’ve ever participated in. All that’s lacking is a football game. In all seriousness though, going to Highland and being part of the Cold Mountain release is a bit different than other releases. It’s not just about the beer, it’s about being at Highland Brewing Company, seeing old friends and meeting new ones. While there’s a line, it moves quickly. They have beer to purchase and drink while you’re waiting in line and, one thing that meant a lot to me this year was that Leah Wong Ashburn, daughter of the founder and current president, greeted each of us as we reached the top of the line. There are, of course, some Cold Mountain variants – Imperial and Coconut – as well as some awesome variations on the casks, which are great as well.
Alright, so let’s check out this year’s release. Color is a dark amber, it’s clear and there’s a moderate to low head that sticks around. On the nose I find the tell-tale spices that I remember, a little toast and a sweetness that I think is vanilla. On the tongue that vanilla stands tall and proud with the spice notes dancing around their dominant friend. A little malt sweetness can also be detected. Mouth feel is medium, it covers the palate and leaves a lingering bitterness.
Final Snobs: I’ve always enjoyed this beer, what it means for the time of year and how it feels to be at Highland Brewing Company when it is released. Next year, if you haven’t been, go to the release. Hang out, have some fun and enjoy everything that Asheville and Highland Brewing Company have to offer.