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MacTarnahan's Highlander Pale Ale - Portland Brewing Company

Not Rated.
MacTarnahan's Highlander Pale AleMacTarnahan's Highlander Pale Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

50 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 50
Reviews: 48
rAvg: 3.4
pDev: 12.35%
Wants: 0
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Portland Brewing Company visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  ABV ?

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 03-13-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 50 | Reviews: 48 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by russpowell:
Photo of russpowell


2.9/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours light glod with effervescence & a 2" whithead. No head retention or lacing

Smell: Sweet, malty & some corniness. Some metallic notes & a slight smokiness

Taste: sweet up front, slight bitterness & an iron taste. Finshes sweet & dry

MF: Slight prickliness & too much sweetness for balance

Easy to drink if you can get past the sweetness. out of style to me, I'd say to avoid this if in doubt..

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2006 03:45:25 | More by russpowell
More User Reviews:
Photo of harpus


3.25/5  rDev -4.4%

10-10-2013 13:40:57 | More by harpus
Photo of Hopheadjeffery


3.5/5  rDev +2.9%

08-05-2013 02:08:18 | More by Hopheadjeffery
Photo of tgbljb


3.63/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a very hazy light amber color with moderate white creamy head. Good retention with some lacing.

Smell has some light fruitiness notes.

Taste also has some malt sweetness. A bit of citrus hops begins to show through at the finish.

Modest taste retention, with the dryness developing a bit more at the finish.

A pleasant enough ber. Might be more enjoyable on cask.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2008 21:59:24 | More by tgbljb
Photo of coalcracker


2.2/5  rDev -35.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Appearance: Pours a medium-gold color with a head that is slow to recede.

Smell: Wheaty with a small touch of hop spiciness.

Taste: Tasted a bit flat with only a little hop bite. The hops really don't hold much presence. Light malts with a very mild toasted quality as well.

Mouthfeel: Very light on the palate, perhaps even a bit watery. Reminiscent of a light beer.

Drinkability: I had to wonder if this was an old bottle, as the flavors seemed to be muted in so many aspects. Hard to finish.

Overall: A beer I won't bother seeking out. Might try again if offered just to debunk my theory that the taste-tested beer wasn't out-dated.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2008 02:01:14 | More by coalcracker
Photo of clickpush


3.35/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pour: 12oz bottle to pint glass. The beer's an golden amber color with lots of bubbles and a one and a half finger big-bubbled white head that goes down quickly, sticking to the glass and leaving a small white cap behind.

Nose: Lager smell, fruits like apples - not much of an appeal. Actually smells a bit like the floor of a frat house on a Sunday morning.

Mouth: A light bit of malty sweetness gets carried on strong carbonation through the whole mouth, possible tinges of adjunct. Finish is a bit of hops, rice, honey, syrup (though not sweet), and leaves no lingering aftertaste.

Serving type: bottle

09-19-2006 19:46:34 | More by clickpush
Photo of DogFood11


3.13/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

I've had some success here and there from Pyramid, most noteably the Mac's Oaked IPA, very nice. The pour on the Highlander requires some aggressive tacticts but it does ok, no lacing, very pale, almost yellow.

Mild for the style. Pretty well put together and balanced. Sweet malts and a cleansing bitter hop sloping more towards the light sweet end of things. English variety comes to mind with its balance.

Comes up light and wet. Metallic in the aftertaste. Wasn't for me but hardly a bad brew at all, just didn't fit in the stable.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2006 05:42:14 | More by DogFood11
Photo of ypsifly


3.5/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Undated 12oz poured into a pint glass.

Clear gold with a small white head that shows decent retention and ringed lace.

Citric hops and bisuity malts in the nose. Nice balance.

Very biscuity with a touch of caramel and a decent dose of (cascade?) hop bite. It could use a little more hop as they seem muted.

The mouth is on the light side but this would be a good session beer if it had more going on.

Serving type: bottle

10-01-2005 03:59:59 | More by ypsifly
Photo of Wasatch


3.35/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a golden yellow color with some carbonation and a small head. There is some lacing afterwards. Scents of sweet hops. Nice taste, but there are other APAs I would rather have than this one. Light-Med body. Kinda goes down like water, but I do like the taste. You could definitely drink alot of these. Would not recommend this beer, just too many other better one's out there.

Serving type: bottle

09-28-2005 00:38:12 | More by Wasatch
Photo of WesWes

New York

3.63/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a gold color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice malty scent that boasts of pale, carapils, and bisquit malts. It is more of an English pale ale than an American pale ale. It's bitter with noble hops. The taste is decent. It has a mildy bitter flavor laid over pale and bisquit malts. It goes down smooth and finishes a bit watery and musty. The mouthfeel is decent also. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. I'd prefer a heavier body and a little more carbonation. This is a decent pale ale. It has a pretty good aroma and an above average flavor.

Serving type: bottle

09-20-2005 21:00:52 | More by WesWes
Photo of thechaacster


3.55/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Part of the "Summer Brews" pack from Cost Plus World Market. No freshness date or abv visible. Pours a medium gold with a fizzy head that disappeared quickly, leaving a lasting thin lace. Smell of floral hops. Taste comes right out with bready, roasted malt, along with the aforementioned floral hops. Supposedly brewed with heather? I couldn't really tell the difference. The finish is lasting, with hop bitterness sticking around. All in all an average but pleasant ale that could easily be a session beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-30-2005 17:02:45 | More by thechaacster
Photo of charlatan

United Kingdom (Scotland)

3/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This had a decent head which didn't make up for the short measure I was served in their Portland brewpub. It was a light bronze colour with a slightly dairy, rather yeasty smell.

It had decent carbonation, but not much flavour. It started off rather creamy and this gradually subsided as an understated hop finish took over. I maybe noticed a slightly grassy flavour. The heather which is supposedly used in the brewing process here was not apparent.

There simply wasn't enough going on here. The brew either needs more hops or more interesting flavours before the hops kick in. With neither it is rather bland.

Serving type: on-tap

06-30-2005 07:26:34 | More by charlatan
Photo of HoboAGoGo


2.4/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured out of the bottle into a pint glass. Light yellow appearance, a light head that stuck around, left some lacing along the time. Carbonation present, in this remarkably clear beer. Smells of fruit, almost a sour apple, but more apricot. Taste, light malt, light hops, but lots of fruit. Don't know if I like how fruity this was. I drank two bottles, thinking the first may have been skunked, but they both tasted that way, gave the third bottle to a friend of mine who liked it.

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2005 18:38:58 | More by HoboAGoGo
Photo of RedDiamond


3.5/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Every now and again I’m served a beer at the bar in which I’m compelled to second-guess whether or not I was served what I ordered. In this case, I detected so much apricot flavor that I wondered whether I’d accidentally been served a pint of Pyramid’s Apricot Ale. A quick sample of the apricot ale with its powerfully fruity essence reassured me that my beer was indeed the Highlander. As they say, there can be only one.

Still, Highlander has such a solid measure of fruit along the lines of apricot and tangerine that one has to wonder if a fruit or fruit syrup has been added to the brew. Highlander is actually made with distilled hop oil and highland heather, and while these ingredients no doubt contribute to the overall taste, they are indistinct in comparison to the more generalized fruitiness of the malts and the Scottish ale yeast which is said to impart a fruity character.

Meanwhile, my cask-conditioned pint arrived with a full finger of deft airy suds and delivered a nice hop bouquet. It was a thin oaken color with abundant lace and a petite head – clear but not radiant. Perhaps this beer’s most appealing virtue is its luxurious mouthfeel which was soft and downy as dust on a cobweb. This elegant texture combines with the fruity flavor and hop aroma to create a graceful, refreshing ale.

Serving type: cask

02-20-2005 23:12:53 | More by RedDiamond
Photo of BuckeyeNation


3.23/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bright amber that appears clear at first glance, but is actually filled with a fair number of miniscule particulates. The beer is topped by a semi-stiff head that is closer to cotton white than it is to ivory and that shows off a craggy surface despite being only one finger in thickness. Too bad that it's substandard in the lace department; surprising given the texture.

The nose is interesting, but I really wish that it was stronger. My nose picks up fruity-herbal aromas with a distinctive sweet 'floralness'. The website says that a small amount of heather was used in the brewing, so I guess I'll attribute that particular component of the nose to heather.

The flavor can only be described as disappointing. Highlander Pale is skimpily malted and, as is often the case, there's no amount of razzle-dazzle that can overcome such a handicap. I taste a modicum of untoasted grain along with a moderate amount of hop flavor and a correspondingly greater amount of hop bitterness. It just isn't malty enough for the bitterness to be properly supported.

There's a mildly fruity hop flavor along with that perfumy 'heathery' essence that I picked up in the nose. It's interesting in the sense that it's different, not in the sense that it's all that appealing. Unfortunately, the beer is strongly mineral-like (not metallic), a characteristic that is made more noticeable by the insufficient malt load. The short finish is dry, bitter and clean.

Pyramid/Portland Brewing is hit-and-miss with me. Count this one as a miss. Underhopped and doubly undermalted, Highlander Pale Ale just doesn't have what it takes. The heather was a good idea (I think), but it needs to be a part of a better beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-07-2004 18:54:58 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of hero27


4.03/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear-golden color with obvious carbonation and an attractive white head which is a larger than I expected from this offering. Looks great in an ice-cold pilsner glass.

Smell: Smells great. I was surprised that it would have such an evident smell considering it's so light. I can definitely pick up a fair share of sweet malts and some slight hops as well.

Taste: Well balanced brew yet again from MacTarnahan's. The sweet malts taste of apple, lemons, and various citrus flavors.. the finish is dry with a nice blend of hops to balance it out. I could definitely see myself drinking this one more often because of the excellent taste out of a relatively simple beer.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, refreshing, great-tasting ale. Carbonation is nice and is a great thirst quencher...exactly what it's supposed to be.

Drinkability: Through the roof. I love APAs because you can sit and drink them all day long. This one is especially refreshing and has good flavor, despite the fact that it's not too complex. That's just fine with me, drinkability is more important than complexity in my opinion.

Overall, an excellent macro. I'm a Pale Ale guy all the way, and MacTarnahan's has made me proud to be one with this delivery.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2004 19:47:57 | More by hero27
Photo of Tballz420


3.7/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The brew is made of a gold body, lighter than your usual west coast pale. Some white head takes off quick. Citrus hop scent, pretty nice. Light cereal grain malts up front, nice subdued oil hop bite in the back, fairly acidic. Thinner in body and taste than the pales that i prefer. Pretty dry. Less emphasis on the hops than your typical west coaster, its not a bad beer, its just id rather have others first. Pretty good.

Serving type: bottle

10-20-2004 21:37:16 | More by Tballz420
Photo of Thrasher


4.03/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was served from a cask at the Portland/MacTarnahan's Tap Room, under the abbreviated name "Pale Ale." It was served in a Highlander glass, and is probably similar to Highlander, but I don't think they are exactly the same beer; for instance, this was darker in color and less hoppy. It may be a special recipe just for cask at the Tap Room. It poured a light amber with a very full sticky head and lace. Pleasing aroma of sweet malts and a light hoppiness and a mild mustiness that I particularly like. This cask-conditioned beer tastes maltier, and a fraction roastier, than I remember Highlander being, and the hops are trimmed back. The end result is that this is close to a British pale ale or bitter. Still, there remains a minty crispness from the hops that draws a nice conclusion to this delightful, buttery ale. I am always nothing less than wholly impressed by the cask beers at the Mac's Tap Room.

Postnote: I recently had the regular Highlander on draft and it was pretty bad... I guess they are totally different beers, or the cask I sampled was a one-off recipe.

Serving type: cask

10-12-2004 02:58:01 | More by Thrasher
Photo of bashiba


2.88/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

The appearence is a dark yellow/orange color with a slight cloudy/haziness to it. Almost no head at all and the little bit of white carbonation disappears almost instantly.
The scent is much more pleasing with a slight sweet caramel smell and some hoppy bitterness also coming through. Smells very balanced.
The taste however isn't balanced so much. Very sweet and malty with very little bitterness, not bad, just not what I expected. The taste is also somewhat muted compared to the scent. The mouthfeel is very light and plain, nothing to get excited about, but still a nice average drinkable beer.

Serving type: bottle

09-23-2004 03:39:24 | More by bashiba
Photo of OldFrothingSlosh


3.25/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. amber bottle. Clear, somewhat darker golden in color. Thin white lace with sparse lacing. Aromas are mostly floral with a bit of sweetness. Flavor is on the sweet side. Not as much bitterness as expected. Middle picks up more of the bitterness, and it's carried into the aftertaste. Dry finish. Nice mouthfeel. Good session brew.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2004 01:45:28 | More by OldFrothingSlosh
Photo of Mitchster


4/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed with hop oil, scottish ale yeast, and heather.

Pours out to a medium-light golden with yellow accents, forming a modest white head with good retention and average lacing. Carbonation is moderate, slight chill haze. Aroma is quite interesting...fruity sweet hops, a nice touch of apple juice with floral notes (probably the heather), and faint husken pale malts. Mouthfeel is brisk and lively with a medium body. Taste begins with a nice splash of spicy floral hops, followed by pleasant apple juice, a medium bitterness, a bit of malt husk towards the end, and a pleasant lingering floral bitterness balanced by residual sugars. Very nice and quite interesting. Finish is moderately dry with a touch of table cracker. Cleanly fermented.

This is an interesting and subtley unique brew. The heather becomes easier to pick up on throughout the brew, and gives it a tangy spin. See my on-tap notes. I like this.

Serving type: bottle

07-15-2004 23:38:47 | More by Mitchster
Photo of mschofield


3.63/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a cloudy orange-gold with a three finger white head, did not lace at all, and I tried two bottles in two different glasses.
Citrus and grassy hop aroma, fruity note. Pretty basic.
Very hoppy taste, citrus-grapefruit, toasted bread, apple juice, lemon, floral.
What exactly is a Scottish pale ale - it's not something I'd drink all the time but an interesting mix of stlyes. Too hoppy for a Scottish, not enough malt for an English

Serving type: bottle

05-18-2004 13:46:42 | More by mschofield
Photo of GCBrewingCo

North Carolina

3.23/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The beer poured crystal clear pale golden. The head was white and fell back, but laced the glass.

The aroma was slight American hops and some caramel with a slight fruitiness.

The flavor was light hoppiness and very light maltiness. There was generally little flavor at all, and the balance is tipped just toward hops.

The finish was just off dry and very slightly bitter. The body was medium light and watery.

12 ounce bottle. Very easy to drink due to a lack of much aroma, flavor and body.

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2004 22:32:38 | More by GCBrewingCo
Photo of marc77


3.05/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brilliantly clear light auric hue. Lofty, fluffy, porcelain white head recedes slowly into a steadfast one fingered layer. Frothy lace remains. Soft floral hops with a brighter citric mirk along with dextrin malt sweetness dominate the aroma. Devoid of yeast presence, save a trace pear note. In flavor, prevalent is a combination of bland cracker like malt and a gentle, lemony, acidic hop presence. Dextrin malt provides slight residual sweetness and girth to the body of what otherwise would be a bone dry and thin brew. Citrus rind notes emerge as the brew warms and add a bit of girth, but the flavor profile remains soft, perhaps overly so. Devoid of yeast esters. Finishes immaculately clean, with only a fleeting hint of simple, bready base malt notes. Well brewed and without flaw, but rather a prosaic pale ale. Perhaps a fine gateway beer for those who are accustomed to domestic macrobrews. OK.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2004 00:28:33 | More by marc77
Photo of Sixpack595


3.25/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Light amber in color with a bit of white head. Sweet scented with a bit of floral hop aroma. Flavor is malty, a bit toasty with a bit of hop flavor in the end. A touch spicy with a dry finish. Well balanced overall, and quite drinkable. Mouthfeel is a bit south of medium. Nothing I'd seek out, but if its there I'll drink it.

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2004 01:46:56 | More by Sixpack595
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MacTarnahan's Highlander Pale Ale from Portland Brewing Company
79 out of 100 based on 50 ratings.