On the morning of Thursday, Nov. 14, Ashevillians and Southerners of all stripes will grab their lawn chairs and secure a place in line at Highland Brewing Company for the release of the “Cold Mountain Holiday Pack” — a mixed case of beer that includes the maximum allotment of Cold Mountain ales. This spiced winter ale began in 1995 as a holiday treat for brewery staff and friends and has become a sign of the season for Western North Carolina over the years.
“We brewed Cold Mountain to celebrate the holidays and a successful second year of business,” said Highland founder, Oscar Wong. “I think this beer has stuck around because the flavors are familiar and very drinkable. Somehow, it has become more than a beer. Cold Mountain has captured something of the essence of the holiday season in Asheville. That is just so humbling to me.”
The spiced winter seasonal is full-bodied and malty with a delicious mix of spices that varies from year to year but always highlight flavors like vanilla, nuts and fruit.
“It starts to smell like the holidays around October in the brewhouse,” said head cellarman Kevin Kellar. “We bicker about this beer and the spices all year long, just like a family.”
While Cold Mountain represents a small portion of Highland’s annual production, the brewery typically sells out of the allocated packaged beer during the launch weekend. Previous years have drawn more than 3,000 people to the brewery for the three-day release party. This year, Highland will brew and package Cold Mountain for distribution at the brewery and then across Highland’s distribution footprint beginning Monday, Nov. 18.
To gain a sense of community sentiment surrounding this brew, Highland asked the public to share their favorite Cold Mountain memories in a post on social media. The post received more than 200 comments.
“Standing in line I met people from all over the Southeast and beyond...some of whom I still keep in contact with,” said Johnson City resident, Amanda Calhoun Lyon. “By the time we got to the front of the line, we cheered each other on as we got our allowed amount and then met up in the taproom to enjoy some (Cold Mountain) on tap. It’s one of my most favorite memories because I’m reminded that no matter where we come from or what our story is, we can connect over something as simple as a beer when it’s beer done right.”
With a mix of the iconic blue 1-liter bottles, 22-ounce bottles, new 6-packs, and a brand-new toasted coconut-infused Cold Mountain 4-pack in 16-oz cans, this year’s Holiday Pack also provides the largest range of Cold Mountain package types and styles released to date.
Cold Mountain will be released in a flurry of festivities starting at 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, at Highland’s hilltop brewery and continues on Friday and Saturday. Friday night will also include a new VIP Party. The VIP ticket includes an option to reserve a Holiday Pack and skip the line.
For more information on Cold Mountain events or to purchase Friday VIP tickets, follow visit www.highlandbrewing.com/cold-mountain.