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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: 1,327
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
Reviews: 517 | Hads: 1,327
Photo of jgurley
3.36/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a really nice deep clear amber with a thin head which leaves a little lace. Smell is slightly dry white grape, yeasty malt and a bit of hop. Taste is light, malty, dry, and a little hop bitterness on the finish. Slight chewed aspirin on the finish. Fairly thin mouthfeel with medium carbonation. Not bad, but not quite as big a beer as I prefer. I prefer their Oatmeal Porter, but I heard recently that they were gonna stop distribution here in Florida. Oh well.. (469 characters)

Photo of hopsaplenty
3.33/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz brown bottle, no date info, but bottle bottom inkjetted with 5149 B-11355.

Foggy bronzed orange. Popping, tall head of small and medium khaki bubbles that slowly settles to a frosting spread of fine bubbles. No carbonation streams. Caramel malts and fruity sweet hops with just a touch of grapefruit rind tartness. There is a slightly sweet malt character that bridges to the fruit and slightly peaked citrus hop finish that lingers for the blink of an eye. This is balanced to the point of equilibrium, but nothing stands out. There is no carbonation present which gives this a bland, flat mouthfeel that is not appealing. Medium to light body, but overall the mouthfeel was sub par. Merely mediocre, balanced, but neither the malt nor the hop component were distinctive. The missing carbonation did this one in. (821 characters)

Photo of Oxymoron
3.33/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Scottish delight. Poured a mostly brown clear color with some reddish hues. A good off white head that stuck around and created swirls. Ok lacing as well.

The smell is a little sudsy and some lighter notes of malt. Not much of an overall smell really.

The taste has a spicy malt flavor. The malt is basic but limited caramel flavor, but at the end there is a spicy almost peppery finish to it. The hops are mild but some bittering hops are noticeable. A touch of earthy and piney flavors. There is a little bit of citrus finish but very subtle.

The body is mid to light. Some wispy flavors that aren’t exactly watery but close to it. Very easy to drink but could use more malty caramel flavor. Nice enough to enjoy in the Scottish hills of North Carolina. (765 characters)

Photo of tigerpaws
3.33/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A very average amber ale, not the best but worth drinking again. Nice malty taste, not much aroma and very good appearance. Its a good beer for the novice who drinks mass produced crap...............CHEERS (205 characters)

Photo of ThaBobfather
3.33/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Very solid pour here. It's a reddish, deep ruby color with white head.
There is a little smell here, but not highly noticeable.
There is good amber spice here. Very smooth and the bit of bitter transitions into amber spice very well.
Very drinkable, and the amber stays with me for a bit on my tongue, which is great. (318 characters)

Photo of wowbagger
3.31/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a nice clear red. Not much aroma, some hop.

Good and hopy red, a little dry but not too much. Some sweet notes. Coats the tongue nicely and has some sharpness at the back of the mouth.

Overall, a very solid amber ale. Hopier than most reds, but still quite good. I'd definitely recommend it. (299 characters)

Photo of dedrinker
3.29/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a handsome beer as far as your standard amber ale goes - deep, clear amber color with a light tan-yellow-ish head. I'm sticking my nose as deep down into the glass as I can go, and I'm not picking up much aroma - perhaps some mild caramel and nutty action, or maybe I'm just imagining it because my nose is all jammed into this thing. Thankfully it does have flavor and there is more of a hop presence here than in most typical amber ales. An almost sweet caramel malty taste followed by a bitter tang of hops. This went better with food - grilled chicken thighs seasoned with sage, oregano, basil, etc. and salt-n-peppa. I think this beer will go well with leftover Thanksgiving food. (693 characters)

Photo of phishgator
3.28/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. The deep amber and nice foamy head are a great presentation for this beer. There is only a mild carbonation. The cascade hops come right through in the nose, very distinctive. The taste is has a slight burnt characteristic. There is a balance of hops and malt, but then on the back end there is an astrigent taste. The body is mild, which allows for a lot of drinking, but after two I'm ready to move onto bigger and better. (450 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.28/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a dark, reddish-brown body with an ivory-colored head.

Smell: There's a light caramel maltiness to the aroma as well as notes of flowers and citrus. Some spice in there, too.

Taste: Flavor of toasted grains with a soft caramel sweetness. Citrusy hops with a subtle spiciness. Mild bitterness on the semi-dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Highland's given us a pleasant, easy drinking amber, which is awfully decent of them. (483 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 nick76
3.27/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The aroma has rootbeer, caramel, malt, and a hint of hops. The appearance is amber with a smallish sized head. The flavor is sweet and closely matches the aroma. The palate is smooth. The finish is slightly bitter and cardboard like. Overall good but with imperfections. (270 characters)

Photo of Crimsonfloods
3.25/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pint glass

Nice amber/orange tinge on it. Creamy white head with a nice lacing.

Smells bold caramel and malt, almost an oaky sent in the background.

Taste is a fine balance between hops and malt, slight bitter.

Feels good, smooth relatively dry finish.

Pretty good overall, nothing too ground breaking. (308 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)

Photo of match1112
3.21/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: slightly hazy reddish brown body. an inch of off white creamy foam settles leaving a small amount of lacing.

s: lightly toasted bready malts, touch of floral hops in the background.

t: sweet bread and toast. hops are almost not there. just a touch of spice on the finish.

m: medium body, creamy, carbonation is spot on.

o: very drinkable. very well balanced between the malts and hops. just nothing about it makes it stand out against the others in the same category. (475 characters)

Photo of jzeilinger
3.18/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a deep, clear copper color with light lacing on top, mild carbonation.

S - Smells of baked bread crust, caramel, and citrus hopping.

T - Very well balanced. Starts out with bread crust up front, some toasted malts, and ends with a very mild citrus bitterness, not much, just enough to bring the sweetness back into check. I'm having a hard time picking anything else out on the flavors because it's so $#@% mild.

M - Medium body and a little watery. Bread crust and toasty grain lingers in the mouth at the very end.

D - Average.

Very balanced it is, I just didn't enjoy this one as much as everyone else. (622 characters)

Photo of rmolledo
3.17/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a Dark Amber Red with quick fading head.

S: Peatey. Malt. Caramel. Slight fruity aroma.

T: Alot more mellow than the smell suggests. Malty. Peaty After taste. Sweet Finish.

MF: Lightly carbonated. Thick mouth feel.

D: A rather uneventful scottish style ale (regardless of what the bottle says, this tastes like an american style scottish ale). Nothing to write home about. (386 characters)

Photo of donmonkey1
3.16/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Nice brownish amber color, small brownish white head with some lacing. Decent carbonation.

Smell: sweet licorice/molasses malt

Taste: Definate hop bitterness with a floral taste and some yeasty, bready molasses.

This beer has a solid, unique character. It's respectable, but as far as drinking a lot of them, it's really not my cup of beer. (356 characters)

Photo of SIRIUS2
3.14/5  rDev -17.8%
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. (582 characters)

Photo of oline73
3.12/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a clear amber with a half finger of off white head that goes away completely.

Smell: Malty sweet with some caramel and cherry hints.

Taste: Malt is the dominant flavor with some sweetness that reminds me of caramel and some cherry as well. There is a hint of bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with tingly carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: I had this while watching a Penn State game and it served its purpose well. It's good, but not very interesting. (543 characters)

Photo of Onenote81
3.12/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Grabbed a pint of this for lunch. Came out a deep amber gold with very little head on it. Lacing was absent as well. Smelled roasty and sweet.

Mouthfeel was thin and wet. Disappointing. Flavor was a big let down as well. Very malty and sweet. Finishes like toasted brown sugar. There was very little bitterness in this at all. Pretty bland overall. I was sorely disappointed with this beer as I've heard good things. I'll give the bottle a try and see if it is any better... (476 characters)

Photo of speter
3.09/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours translucent orange/amber with one-finger tan head that left impressive lacing.

S: Average amount of sweet malt, but little else. I suppose the Gaelic designation means "No hops here."

T: Clean, American ale, without any fruity esters or hop character to speak of. Lightly sweet throughout. Overall, not a complex beer.

M: A decent amount of carbonation that leads to a nice mouthfeel when swirled in the nonic. Medium body and a fairly creamy head.

D: This is a lawnmower beer if ever I've had one. Lightly sweet, little hop bitterness or aroma and refreshing carbonation. (586 characters)

Photo of cpetrone84
3.08/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-the bottle pours a reddish amber color with a thin one finger of an off white head that has no retention and leaves no lace on the glass

S-very light nose, almost nothing there. what i do get is a bready malt with some caramel. also seems to be a note of pale malt in there with a little citrus.

T-the taste is also very light and brings pale malts with a touch of caramel giving way to a hint of citrus that is over taken by bitterness in the finish

M-has a nice medium body and is slightly syrupy with a slickness at the back of the throat

D-great mouthfeel on a rather pedestrian tasting beer. (602 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
3.03/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Lunch for sharing this beer. Served in a SAVOR snifter.

Pours a clear amber color with a small white head and a thin collar on the way down. THe nose carries an average amount of bready malt with a touch of caramel in there. The flavor has a light sweetness along with some bread crust and a bit of toast. Light caramel there and some very light hops. Light body with average carbonation; finish is slightly-dry and bitter. Decent enough, though nothing I'd go out of my way for. (490 characters)

Photo of drabmuh
3.03/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Another bottle shared by Lunch, thanks! You are suppose to be a red ale? oops. I thought something totally different.

Beer is reddish I suppose, mostly clear with an offwhite head of small bubbles, low carbonation.

Aroma is sweet, mildly caramel, not much of it there.

Beer is sweet and medium in body, the back is moderately bitter, finish is not dry. Overall a below average tasting ale. I won't have it again. (415 characters)

Photo of drmystery
3/5  rDev -21.5%
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. (1,359 characters)

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