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Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...
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Highland Gaelic Ale - Highland Brewing

Not Rated.
Highland Gaelic AleHighland Gaelic Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

517 Reviews
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 517
Hads: 1,325
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 9.42%
Wants: 31
Gots: 211 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Highland Brewing visit their website
North Carolina, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  5.80% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: pezoids on 01-11-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Highland Gaelic Ale Alström Bros
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Reviews: 517 | Hads: 1,325
Photo of chamberscreek
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this ale from Highland. Enough punch and depth of flavor for an ale, but crisp and light enough for a summer refreshment. A good utility infielder of an ale (that's a complement). (187 characters)

Photo of hopphead31415
4.06/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Look-This beer pours a crystal clear dark amber color that glints with a reddish copper hue in the light. The
head settles into a bready layer after settling.

Smell-It smells like oak, caramel, spices, fruits and such.

Taste-This tastes like sugar cherries, caramel, nutmeg/spices, fruits, and candied almonds. The alcohol comes at the end with the carbonation.

Mouthfeel-It feels smooth and medium-bodied. There is a pleasant coating on the tongue that reminds me of an oak bourbon barrel for cellaring barley wines and such although this one is just an ale.

Overall-I keep getting surprised by Highland Brewing. Although they can’t compete with Ommegang, they are still quite good though. (699 characters)

Photo of jneiswender
4.99/5  rDev +30.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Phenomenal all around beer. Had on tap at magnolias in charleston sc. Great amber ale with a nutty scotch Bready malt front with some subtle pine hop notes at the back. Not heavy like some other Amber ales. Great beer. Would seek this out. (246 characters)

Photo of Jericho7x
2.99/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

New to beer tasting, so take this with a grain of salt.
SMELL = Honestly, smelled like a foot. Not a ripe, all day while running foot, but maybe like 2-3 hours in a sneaker. Did not like the smell.
LOOK = Carmel color with a cream colored head. Not thick.
TASTE = Bitter. Could not get too much other taste, but it did have a very slight sweetness at the end.
OVERALL = not for someone like me getting away from the mass-produced American beers. This would be for a more veteran taste. (486 characters)

Photo of Zach136
3.99/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Crystal clear amber bodied with a light cream head with a touch of ruby.

Aroma/Flavor: Nutty and bready up front with some notes of toffee, and a fruity aroma that doesn't show through quite as bright on the palate.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a touch of hop bitterness lingering. Not much, but doesn't compliment well.

Overall: A prototypical standard. (371 characters)

Photo of Bis4beer70
4.5/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had some of this while on vacation coming back from Florida & North & South Carolina,along with Georgia too...I had beers from each state in the span of two weeks & this was the top of the heap...drank it while in Knoxville,TN the day after driving up thru N.Carolina...The mountain town of Asheville & their beer! Wow! It's UP THERE! Cheers! good stuff indeed! (361 characters)

Photo of Bosoxbennie
3.94/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I truly cannot make up my mind on ambers..One second I think I'm just done with them, and then I try one like this that changes my mind...very very solid brew (158 characters)

Photo of tone77
3.49/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a pretty amber color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is mild, some malts are present. Taste is hops up front, malts at the finish, a touch of caramel. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a pretty good beer. (253 characters)

Photo of Daytonbeerguy
4.42/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

May not be ground shattering but is a very good selection to pair with food and is extremely drinkable and good for meeting with friends and shooting the breeze. (161 characters)

Photo of DeaconsBrew
4.21/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very drinkable and food-friendly. This is a go-to red ale as it is now readily available in my area. Stirs up a craving for brats or sausage sandwiches. I keep this in a wine cooler at 50 degrees and the flavors and subtle complexities really come out at that temp. (265 characters)

Photo of OrestesMethuon
3.27/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Beautiful, fat-bubbled, deep-ruddy red-amber ale, I find myself unfortunately not as impressed with the remainder of this Highland flagship than I expected to be. It has a very mild, slightly malty odor, but that'd be forgivable if the flavors weren't also so excessively mild. Besides being a bit thin in texture, Gaelic Ale is quite lean on the flavors I expect from a well-crafted amber: the malting is clean, but doesn't do much to make its presence felt besides a bit bite on top of its moderately sweet substructure; and the overall impression is certainly a little less than the "rich malty body" promised on the label. Meanwhile, the hopping is nice, but largely straightforward: not a lot of fragrance or florality, with the Cascade and Willamette primarily serving to ripen the sweetness a bit with some grassy bitter notes.

It's a fairly drinkable beer—though I wouldn't quite call it "sessionable," despite its fairly light body, since the sweetness outweighs the crispness, respective to Gaelic's malt elements (and malt is the crucial component of an amber, as far as I'm concerned). But, as stated, it's a little disappointing, given that I've liked other products from Highland, and this is their ur-product. I've been told that on draft it better matches its promises, both in terms of official description and critical profile, but I suppose I'll believe that when I taste it; from the twelve-ounce bottle, it was decent, but underwhelming. (1,467 characters)

Photo of JohnnyI
3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

With a bearded bag-pipe player set against the mountainous backdrop of Asheville NC gracing the label, how can this lose? Filled on 10/7/14. The beer pours with a bright amber clarity, and a rocky manilla head. 2 fingers of foam recede, leaving lavish lacing on the glass. The nose is dominated by biscuity malts. Tart cider-like notes and piney hops battle for second fiddle. The flavor delivers caramel sweetness, and a buttery toffee that reminds me of an English ale. However, the tangy hop bite quickly takes over, washing away the malts and leaving only nice toasted grain in the finish. The mouthfeel is a tad watery, with tame carbonation, though it doesn't detract from the experience. This brew achieves a very respectable balance. A classic American Amber, true to the style. Nothing earth shattering, but a delightful and well-crafted treat from the Tarheel State. (878 characters)

Photo of Harvest06
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very food friendly, well rounded amber ale with slight sweetness, medium body and dry bitter finish. Its less hoppy than many west coast amber ales but more hoppy than many east coast red ales. (193 characters)

Photo of CIBoy10
4.32/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark orange or amber brown with a head that leaves quickly. Lacing stays around on top and clings nicely. Smell is bready and malty. Taste is awesome! Clean and refreshing ale with a hint of hoppiness. This is a taste that I think many people would enjoy (ala Sweetwater 420). Feel is superb. Clean, refreshing, and tasty. The three headed combination I prefer. Overall I would gladly drink this again - one of the more superb sessionable craft beers I've enjoyed. Cheers! (481 characters)

Photo of jman42
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Deep orange color with moderate head
Malty aroma typical of an amber
Nice taste but nothing stands out
Clean mouthfeel
Nothing outrageous stands out but I really like it. Could drink a bunch of these (199 characters)

Photo of brewskifan55
4.09/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass. Thanks, Darren.

A: An opaque bronze. An off-white one-finger head that dissipates fast. Filmy lacing.

S: Caramel, bourbon, leather.

T: A barrel of caramel with cherries. A nice malty base. Smooth, sweet. Chocolate enters the scene late with a peat-y finish.

M: Medium with medium carbonation. A dry finish.

O: A terrific ale, one I'd drink again. (392 characters)

Photo of sulldaddy
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Sampling a cellar temp 12 oz bottle poured into a mug. A gift from my cousin Joe, Thank you!
The beer pours a clear amber color with an eggshell white colored head that is creamy and sticky with clingy tightly packed lattice on the glass after each sip. Aroma is caramel with a bit of grainy malt. HInts of herbal hops in the background. Nose is not strong and it takes some pretty serious sniffing to get the scents right.
First sip reveals very fine and tingly carbonation. Average body and smooth texture make for a very drinkable brew.
Flavor is similar to the nose, with some grainy malt and a bit of toffee. Finish moves to hops with that same herbal almost tea leaf flavor coming through the sweet malt. No hints of any booze and the beer finishes clean with just a little lingering hop profile. A well balanced and highly drinkable brew. Well done. (861 characters)

Photo of malvrich
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into a Stella glass
bottled July 15, 2014
ABV is actually 5.6%
A: Hazy copper/amber color with a tight beige head some of which refused to pour out of the bottle. Head lasts a few minutes with nice lacing. Fair clarity.

S: Mostly getting caramel and toast.

T: Fruit. Nuts. Orange zest and burnt toast. The sweetness from the smell is thankfully absent.
Delicious.

M: Lighter bodied perhaps, than it looks. Refreshing with zippy carbonation.Dry tart finish leaves you wanting more.

O: This is very good amber ale. Maybe the best I can think of. Highland has a hit and at $8/6 it's a no brainer! Extremely good. (628 characters)

Photo of denver10
3.6/5  rDev -5.8%

Pours amber with a nice off white head. Aroma is caramel and toasty, grapefruit, a little floral, and pine. Flavor follows suit with a nice balance between malt and hops. Smooth and sessionable, especially for an amber ale. A crisp, active mouthfeel. Overall, my into to Highland and I am very pleased seems to veer the line between what I consider an amber and red (in a good way). Will have to check out some of their other stuff, especially their oatmeal porter. (465 characters)

Photo of ordybill
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass
Aroma- Has a nice caramel and malt aroma.
Appearance- pours a murky copper color with a small off-white head.
Taste- Has a malt, hops and fruit flavor with little aftertaste.
Palate- A light to moderate bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Has a dry finish.
Overall- A better than average American Amber/ Red Ale. I would drink this again. (390 characters)

Photo of RonaldTheriot
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Highland Gaelic Ale has a relatively thick, cream-colored head, a mostly clear, bubbly, copper appearance, and good lacing left behind. The aroma is of slightly citrusy, caramel malt and bread crust, and the flavor is of sweet, syrupy, caramel malt, and pleasantly bitter hops. Mouthfeel is medium, and Highland Gaelic Ale finishes semi-dry and highly quaffable.

RJT (368 characters)

Photo of marshmarsh
4.09/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

my first highland brew

a- mahogany with cream lacing

s - wood and yogurt? weird bt its what i smell

t - wood and hoppy
with a roasted creme bruoee aftertaste

m - moderately full

o - very complex with earthy roasted and perfect amount of hop notes (251 characters)

Photo of droomyster
4.13/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a clear mahogany body with dense, craggy head of tan foam with excellent retention and lacing. Aromas are very rich in toasty malts, earth, ether, and autumnal leaves. Extremely flavorful in ways that remind me of some oktoberfests: very malty and big on the toasty notes. Sweet toffee up front, toast and browned biscuits on the midpalate, before giving way to almost tea and bitter walnut skin-like flavors on the finish. I like this a lot and plan to make a part of my fall lineup. (490 characters)

Photo of slym
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I tried this when I got a sampler-pack at the local market and really liked it. It pours a nice copper colour but isn't heavy in any way. A nice bread-y smell comes after the pour (weak head, small and fizzled fast with no lacing, though) and you get a nice maltiness, hops inthe background, but it tastes lighter than the colour suggests, I'd bet due to being more carbonated than most ales.

Overall, I really like this. I will definitely buy it again. (454 characters)

Photo of peteanddaze
3.23/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I wanted to love this ale because Highland Oatmeal Porter and Stout are so so good, but I didn't prefer it at all. Having spent so many happy months drinking Scottish ales in Scotland, maybe I am spoiled. I just did not find this ale to be rich and tasty, but just very average. I will try it again at some point to be fair and to make sure I am not missing out on something really good. (387 characters)

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Highland Gaelic Ale from Highland Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 517 ratings.