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Highland Gaelic Ale - Highland Brewing

Not Rated.
Highland Gaelic AleHighland Gaelic Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

520 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 520
Hads: 1,352
Avg: 3.81
pDev: 19.16%
Wants: 32
Gots: 220 | 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
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Reviews: 520 | Hads: 1,352
Reviews by chinchill:
Photo of chinchill
3.99/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Consumed at 2011 LEAF Festival, just a few miles form the brewery.

A - Pours a beautiful clear amber with a very ample and remarkably creamy tan head. Fine carbonation is visible.

S - moderately good aroma of toasted malt and a trace of hops.

T - Nicely balanced mix of caramel and other malts with a hint of toasted bread, but has a fine lasting hop finish.

M - very creamy, but with a medium to medium/high carbonation level -- a great combination.

O - excellent for style. Easy recommendation, even for beer aficionados, but particularly for newcomers to craft beer. (verified on sept. 16, 2011 -- pairs great with chocolate.)

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More User Reviews:
Photo of OrestesMethuon
3.27/5  rDev -14.2%
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.

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Photo of Zach136
3.99/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of jkrich
3.94/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. freshness stamped bottle: beautiful and clear, deep red with a foamy, beige head that slowly dissipated.

The aroma solidly emphasized the malt profile: sweet and malty with some hints of spicy hops.

Very nice and refreshing flavor that is well balanced by the cascade hops. The flavor is sweet and slightly fruity with a gentle hop bit at the end. The malt profile never becomes cloying even as the ale warms in the glass.

The mouthfeel is soft and silky with a light to medium body. The carbonation is not overpowering yet keeps the ale refreshing and zesty on the palate. While the palate is coated with the malty sweetness, there is a pleasant, lingering bitterness.

This ale reminds me why I always enjoy trying the amber ale style; you never know how the brewer will interpret this vague style. This is one of the best.

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Photo of Jericho7x
2.99/5  rDev -21.5%
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.

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Photo of oberon
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice mahogany color,decent,had a musty somewhat fruity smell.A well-crafted brew like better on tap,its a little more fruity.Has a light touch of hops to finish it out,with no real lingering aftertaste.Highland is a nice brewing company have been to Barleys taproom to try many of theres on tap.

 295 characters

Photo of DanGeo
3.69/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Zakk
4.5/5  rDev +18.1%

Photo of JudgeRoughneck
3.94/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This classicaly-colored Irish red has a big head that quickly vaporizes but leaves a nice lacing. It offers up quite fresh aromas of sugary malt, earthy and fruity hops, wood, light spices, and fresh baked bread. Great balance of deep malt sweetness, metallic dryness, hop bitter, and fruitiness. Fruity hop finish makes this one a bit different. Mouth and gut feel are both just a tad heavy, but I'm sure I could still do some damage to this.

 443 characters

Photo of Spaten454
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy
4.33/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A hazy,deep plum color poured from 12oz brown bottle into New Belgium snifter. The head is a single finger and thick, though it dwindles in a minute or two leaving behind a descent amount to lace. There is freshness dating on the bottom ridge of the bottle. The aroma is initially sweet with alcohol quick to be noticed. There is an initial caramel malt flavor complimented by the advertised dry hop finish. The sweet maltiness is effectively balanced by the hop bitterness resulting in a nice dry finish. There is a pleasant dry fuit sweetness with a balance with hops. This is an even bodied brew that is in feel typical of its advertised style. Overall this is a good interpretation of style.

The carbonation in this brew was perfect and was a nice compliment ot the overall character of the beer. The density of this brew was also in great balance, not thin and not syrupy. This is a good brew cold a well above average as it warms. The fruit and malt slowly builds with temperature.red with a meal much more than standin alone.

 1,034 characters

Photo of SIRIUS2
3.14/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Nice ruddy amber color; slim head

S: Weak hints of earthy malt aromas

T: Abundant caramel malts balanced well with a variety of hops; the finish is relatively quick with a slight lingering of hops.

M: Decent medium bodied with abundance of carbonation

D: Good ale, would probably go good with a roasted turkey leg or soup in a bread-bowl. Personally prefer more aggressive flavor profiles but this would be fine as an escape from American Macros.

The Highland line is generally one of my favorites but this particular ale is closer to mediocre. Not bad, generally enjoyable.

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

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine May 2007.

It's Gaelic by name and hails the Highlands, if we trust the bagpiper on the label, but it's an American Ale. Chinook, Cascade and Willamette hops bring forth 32 IBUs--which means balance.

Pours with a gentle carbonation that leaves a bit of foam and a bubbly lace that sticks to the glass. Deep crimson amber hue has a slight haze to it. Malty nose with suggestions of caramel and freshly baked bread, with hops bringing some citric and mild pine to the aroma. Sublime, creamy, smooth mouthfeel; solid medium body with a reserved carbonation. A big mouthful of maltiness up front--caramel, toasted grain, bread crust. The malt character is more than enough to make the hops seem smaller than they actually are; quick spikes of citric and herbal hop bitterness and flavor come through. Maltiness lingers with a toasted grain flavor that melds well with the faded hop aftertaste. Finishes semi-sweet.

A beer like this makes North Carolina shine within the robust American craft beer scene. A slow-grilled dry-rubbed pork loin with baked sweet potatoes is a perfect pairing.

 1,119 characters

Photo of Bitzer
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%

Photo of blitz134
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very nice dark golden orange/copper color with a small light tan head which reduced to the thinnest of bubble layers. Aroma is very balanced with hops and malts. The hops are mainly grapefruit and fruity in nature. This is well balanced with a sweet malty smell. There is also a slight caramel aroma. Taste is mainly hop oriented consisting of pine hops which lead to a nice bitter finish. Similar to the aroma there is a nice balance to this which makes it really drinkable. Overall the flavor is light and refreshing. Coats the mouth well and is relatively full bodied for a red ale. This is a good beer overall and is quite quaffable. I can see myself enjoying this easy drinker on a warm summer day…definitely worth a try.

 729 characters

Photo of markallmon
4.5/5  rDev +18.1%

Photo of Walker8810
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

deep amber in color with a thin head of foam. delicious sweet aroma of molasses. smooth even mouthfeel. well balanced, deliciously sweet taste on top finishing with a mild hop bitterness. very smooth and very drinkable. could drink this beer all day. an excellent example of an amber ale.

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Photo of marvin213
3.62/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

It's darker than I'd expect from a red--more brown than amber. A 1" head thins out to a still creamy-looking foam top. Lacing is impressive, but ultimately I'm put off by what I think is too dark a red, amber beer.

The smell is good and malty--guess that's why it's so dark, huh? I also smell the hops. Although I've been improving on my hop-type distinctions, I admit I can't distinguish Cascade from Willamette. I do acknowledge a complexity with the hop/malt balance.

It's a good beer. As I rate each of the characteristics here, I'm continually surprised by the maltiness of this beverage. I'm more familiar with Cascade hops...perhaps Willamette are significantly more subtle? Or maybe this beer just has a lot of malts. That makes it taste good, but I can't help but feel that this much malt is inappropriate for a red, amber ale. Are malts what make reds red? Maybe that's why the beer's so brown. Regardless, the beer basically tastes good--though in a complex way:)

Not a whole lot to the mouthfeel. Again the malts dominate and leave a sort of chocolatey taste on the palate, but I still feel that that's not what I'm supposed to get from a red ale. This beer is much different than other ambers--not that it's much better or much worse--it's like it's mislabeled. Still, it's not a stout. Maybe it's more like a dopplebock. Though I'm not sure what exactly it is in terms of style, it tastes good and the mouthfeel is better-than-average.

Drinkability is below average because the malts make this a relatively heavy amber ale. Not that I expect to drink reds on a hot summer day, but I don't expect reds to conjure up images of Willy Wonka. A good beer, but one of the first I've come across about which I've questioned the style.

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Photo of merlin48
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, copper/red body with a small, but lasting, beige head. Scattered lace patches the glass. The color is almost radiant in appearance, very attractive.

Aroma is very malty, with lots of toffee and caramel on the nose. Herbal hops and a definite note of spruce provide a delicate balance to the bouquet.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a slight syrupy character.

Thicker on the palate than I initially thought, with a bigtime maltiness highlighted by toffee and caramel. Plenty of herbal hops bitterness, with spruce pine in the forefront. A note of smoked charcoal appears out of nowhere, and adds additional complexity.

This is a very tasty, nicely balanced Scots/Irish style red ale that I'm becoming quite fond of. Very well balanced.

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Photo of nem2006
3.92/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It is a hazy, deep amber color with a good head that dissipates throughout the beer.

There is the slight sweetness of the toasted malts.

The taste is sweet at the start and finishes with a nice smooth bitterness from the hops (Cascade and Williamette).

This is a smooth, medium to full bodied beer with a good balance of sweetness and bitterness.

 349 characters

Photo of locckdown
2.75/5  rDev -27.8%

Photo of maki88
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


12oz bottle poured into a tumbler. Enjoyed at home.

A: Rich amber color with a thick, off-white head. The head lingered and laced well. This definitely looks like an ale, and the bold appearance suggests some of the strong scents and distinguished taste of this brew.

S: Sweet and malty, while also somewhat toasty, with hints of caramel.

T: A rich flavor. Smooth at the start -- lighter than expected, actually. The taste lingers pleasantly in the mouth. I'd say that this ale has a distinct flavor, but not an over-powering one. Compared with other ales, this one's taste is notable for its bold but drinkable character.

M: Medium-bodied, but perhaps on the lighter side of "medium." Certainly not too light for an ale, but there seems to be room for it to be a bit more robust here.

O: A solid ale, above average but not incredible. It is definitely drinkable and enjoyable, without some of the overpowering flavors of other ales. I'd enjoy it again, but I wouldn't go out of my way to seek it out.

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Photo of avitallo
4/5  rDev +5%

Photo of JC333
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

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Highland Gaelic Ale from Highland Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 520 ratings.