Highland Gaelic Ale - Highland Brewing

Not Rated.
Highland Gaelic AleHighland Gaelic Ale

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

1,275 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,275
Reviews: 527
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 11.81%
Wants: 29
Gots: 187 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,275 | Reviews: 527
Reviews by cracgor:
Photo of cracgor
4.02/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is an excellent beer that I can find pretty readily at the bars in my location. It's got a nice refreshing and crisp feel. It tastes very well balanced with a light malt touched with a bit of piney hop that is far from over the top. Smells similar with a bit more emphasis on the hop. The beer looks like a beer. It has a light head ontop it's amber body.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Highland Brewery's flagship beer. "Just a wee bit different."

Presentation: 12 oz amber bottle with a happy bag-pipe-toting lad on the label. No freshness dating.

Appearance: Poured a dark copper color with minimal white head. A minimal white lace sparsly laces the glass.

Smell: For a pale ale/bitter classification, there was a lot more malty sweetness in the nose that expected. A twist of citrus hops are present, too.

Taste: Mostly malty sweetness with a little bit of bittering effect from the hops. Not bad.

Mouthfeel: Low-medium body and a fairly creamy texture.

Drinkability: I liked this more as it warmed. There was an aftertaste I just can't figure out that was on the unpleasant side. Not one that I'd ask for again, but drinkable in its own right.

Photo of Prospero
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a nice deep amber color, almost ruby. The head is about 2-3 fingers but doesn't linger long with traces of lace. The nose is full of floral aroma and sweet like honey. This is where the Cascade and Williamette do wonders for the aroma of a beer. The taste was on the upper bitter end for an amber, but it while I thought it was well balanced with the malts, the bitterness lingered a little too long. A tiny hint of earthiness, spice and fruit came through in the taste making it a nice light-bodied, flavorful, semi-sweet amber with character. I'd say while it's drinkable for me, it may be a little complex for those seeking a session. But if you're looking for a unique amber, definitely give this beer a try.

Photo of jcdiflorio
2.3/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

served in a 22oz brown bottle with a crimped cap into a tulip glass.

Deep rich amber color,hazy, with a 2" frothy white head with good retention and lots of tiny bubbles stringing from the sides of the glass.

The aromas were on the faint side,mostly fruity tropical fruits,light toasty malts with some nutty carmell.

Fruity tastes that are sour/tarty,faint malt tastes of carmell/toffee with a bit of nuttiness. Finished with a dry tart finish.

Light to medium body,grainy,on the rough side. Had a hard time finishing the bottle. Liked the two other beers i tried from this brewery this one was nothing like the two others i had tried.

Photo of GOBLIN
3.51/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pretty solid beer. Sweet and malty. Not bad overall and worth trying if you see it.

Photo of yankeeheel
3.58/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice dark crimson with a smallish eggshell head. Nice lacing, little retention. Smells hoppy and a little bit like fig. I'm miffed on the fig but it smells good. Nice hop to malt balance here with the fruity malt coming out slightly ahead. Grassy in it's texture and body. Nice little citrus hop burn in the finish. Solid, yet different amber.

Photo of drmystery
3/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

im starting to think highland brewing cant get their shi-stuff together.

their year round beers are, to be frank, underwhelming. especially this beer. to me it tastes like burnt hops...i do like the roasty characteristics of stouts and porters but in an ale im expecting it to taste, well, ale-y; i like those citrusy and hoppy smells and flavors from a good ale.

this beer looks good-it has a nice reddish/copperish/brown apperance. it smells good-nice hops and malts and all that.

but as soon as i taste it, it just tastes like burnt hops. that burnt taste is either from the amount of malts they use-this beer has 5 different types of grain and 3 types of hops., or from not enough hops. i am no "hophead" by any means, i just think this beer is too malty and not hoppy enough for what it is.

overall, i think this beer-and just about every other highland beer is underwhelming for the style it is. i think people tend to overhype this beer when its just an average beer. its not nasty, but its not great. i think this beer is like the guinness of asheville/nc because people come up to asheville and drink it because its one of the more popular beers here, just like how people go to ireland and drink guinness even though its an average beer. im not saying highland brewing are gimmicky, im just saying their beers are overhyped and just average.

Photo of Dudeletter
4.15/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first Amber love and southern addiction is the Highland Brewery. Their beer is from Asheville, NC and the locality promises the freshness of the sample. The beer is on the hoppy end of the spectrum, but the mellowness of a well crafted amber permeates through the hopped nature of the beer. The beer’s cascade hops add a citrus freshness to add punctuation to the malty caramel taste. The carbonation adds a baked bread, almost a toasted desert bread scent to the nose of this wonderful beer.

http://www.dudeletter.com/?p=1000

Photo of Soonami
3.49/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Highland Gaelic Ale is the first beer I've had from the Asheville brewery and it is not a bad beer but definitely not a great beer either. This is deep burnished copper with almost no head, despite the rough pour. I think that any beer especially an American hopped amber should have the carbonation and head to bring up the aroma. The bee smelled mostly malty, with a bit of fresh hops, but mostly just grainy malts. The taste was mostly the same dominated by a biscuity malt and balanced only by a modicum of hoppiness. I think that this style (and not the double) should have an assertive hop character with grapefruit and tropical flavors and medium-high bitterness, which I find lacking in this beer.

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.)

Photo of jazfst1
3.89/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Solid amber that is very drinkable and goes well with any type of bar/pub/grilled food.

Photo of glid02
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap on Twain's in Atlanta.

Pours a clear dark red with a one-finger off-white head. The head dissipates fairly quickly into a wispy layer of bubbles leaving decent lacing.

Smells of very lightly toasted malts with faint citrus aromas. An earthy spiciness, a notch or two down from rye spiciness, comes out as the beer warms.

Tastes similar to how it smells. The malt is once again front and center, mainly sweet but with traces of the aforementioned spiciness. Again, light citrus flavors join in late in the sip before giving way to a mildly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. Good thickness and carbonation for the style make this go down smoothly.

Drinkability is good. I finished one without a problem, and could have more than one of these in a sitting.

Overall I'm glad I revisited this beer, as when I had it from the bottle on numerous previous occasions it had a metallic taste that turned me off for a while. A new recipe or the fact that I had it from the tap make this beer a whole lot better. Worth a shot.

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Highland Gaelic Ale from Highland Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 1,275 ratings.