3. Cold Mountain Winter Ale
, Asheville, N.C.
Long before craft beer's elite started setting up their second brewing homes in Asheville, Highland Brewing was cranking out beers downtown using retrofitted dairy equipment. Nearly 20 years and a whole lot of expansion later, Highland is one of the city's elder statesmen and a standard bearer for its homegrown brewing community.
This winter ale has changed similarly during those years. A light, malty offering flavored with vanilla, hazelnut and other seasonal favorites, this blend tends to shift from year to year and never tastes quite the same. It is, however, reliably mild at 5.2% ABV and one of the few winter ales in the country that we could recommend having more than one of without suggesting you find a cozy place for an impromptu nap first. Those Vienna, Pilsen, Caramel and Chocolate malts give Cold Mountain a lovely, creamy finish that's perfect for a long seasonal session.