Highland Gaelic Ale - Highland Brewing

Not Rated.
Highland Gaelic AleHighland Gaelic Ale

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BA SCORE
86
very good

516 Reviews
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 516
Hads: 1,315
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 9.42%
Wants: 31
Gots: 206 | 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: 516 | Hads: 1,315
Photo of BEERchitect
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

And that's how it's done! Not settling for the syrupy sweet notion that most American brewers have created to represent the Amber Ale. Highland Brewing reaches into the depth of Irish history to create a characterful and fully malted version with a distinctive citrus hop kick!

Impressively poured, the beer simply glows with a deep and brilliant chestnut hue. Mahogany highlights cast through the body as more amber ones shine near the edges. Off white in color, its frothy head is sturdy and persistent, leaving lacy rings in its wake.

Deep aromas of medium toast, bread crust, elegant sweet malt notes, and deeply kettle caramelized notes that remind me of "Cracker Jacks" ballpark candy. Nutty with almond and peanut- the malt aromas are complex and rich without being sweet to the scent. But then there's hops: pithy citrus notes, sharp grass, and grapefruit peels give the ale a decidedly American attitude.

Malty-rich to start, the beer explored toasted character of crusted bread, nuts, toffee, and rounded grain sweetness. Its delicious taste is penetrated by the aggressive citrus hop flavors of vibrant white grapefruit peels and pith, acidic oranges, and biting lemongrass bitterness that intensifies as the beer finishes. Yet, the beer retains a remarkable balance in the end.

Medium bodied to start, the creamy beer lightens considerably as it traverses across the tongue- leading to a malty-dry finish with high hop dryness, light alcohol warmth, and a toasty starch texture.

Gaelic Ale is a terrific ale that's all-things- Amber, Irish, and Red. It rewards the palate but never overwhelsm. Its remarkably balanced and embraces boldness. It's simply what American Amber Ales should be- and not just around St. Patrick's celebrations only. (1,758 characters)

Photo of aaronh
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a hazy, orange copper color topped by a generous tan head. The head fades to a layer of film interspersed with pillows of foam. A sheeting lace is left on the glass. The aroma is strong roasted malt, with caramel and a touch of peat. A bit of fruit and fresh bread smells are also mixed in. Hops are not discernable. The taste is very appealing, with the strong raosted malt dominating, but with a decent smoked peat component. A hint of sweetness and carmelized sugar chimes in as well. A bit of bitterness lingers on the finish, but it is faint enough to make one wonder if it is hops or just bitterness from roasted malts. The aftertatse reveals a bit more of a pine note, verifying that there really is a low level hopping in this brew. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy, with mild carbonation accentuating the buttery feeling on the tongue. The drinkability is very good, and I wish I had more than one of these beers. It is an excellent brew that I will purchase again. (990 characters)

Photo of RBorsato
4.17/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Fresh tasting (07/29/03): Fuller tan head, low carbonation, and sporadic lace. Hop aroma much more pronounced (light citrusy character). Hop flavor really comes through when fresh; balance leans hoppy vs. malty. Light bitter finish. Drink this puppy fresh!! very nice !
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(old) Bronze-ish amber with a low light brown head. Nice balanced malty, fruity, and hop aroma. Rich malt flavor with a nice hop balance. Medium bodied (leans full).

Would like to try this along side Bert Grant's Scottish Ale... similar, but Highland is probably not as hoppy hence I'd label this one as a Scottish Ale...

Per label: "Cascade and Willamette hops"
Per H.B.Co. website: IBU: 32, Hops: Chinook, Willamette and Cascade

"99" embossed on bottom of bottle
Tasted: 04/08/03

"03" embossed on bottom of bottle
Tasted: 07/29/03 (823 characters)

Photo of hobbes2112
4.17/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted at the Mellow Mushroom in Chapel Hill, NC.

This came a nice dark gold hue with a 1-1.5 finger head of varied bubble size. The smell was hoppy and floral, mixed in with toasted malt. Really sharp when cold, but as I ate I let this one warm up a bit. The taste warm is very smooth and the hops seem to pull away from the other tastes, in a good way.

A great tasting beer that needs to be served a little warmer than I got it. Try it if you can! (455 characters)

Photo of ThePopper
4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Beautiful, dark copper color; nice foamy head.

S: Malt notes, with a whiff of pine.

T: An amber-style ale with nice caramel and malt notes, very subtle hops, and tones of vanilla and sassafras.

M: Rich and smooth.

O: A very drinkable, high-quality ale, with more malt complexity and full flavors than a pale ale. On par with the very best ambers – highly recommended. (376 characters)

Photo of Vancer
4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice frosty sent via the CEO / Old farters BIF from unclejedi.

Deep orange amber brew, with a massive ivory head. Almost hard to control this volcano of head, which left thick lacey rings.

Aroma checked in with a woody pine, plus some citrus. And for a bottled beer, this sure seemed like a cask ale – smooth and warmly conditioned without a lot of excess carbonation. Sweetish caramel nicely submits to a well balanced hop finish, with a dose of grapefruit tossed in.

Very good drinking beer, glad to have had the chance. (526 characters)

Photo of Bighuge
4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A dulled scarlet red appearance. A good sized fluffy off white head forms on the surface. Retention is pretty good. After a few minutes, a nice little film is still present as well as a good sized collaring. Lace is quite bountiful. Nose is rich with caramel maltiness and laced with some PAC10 hop character as well as spiciness. Pretty good aroma. This seems like a hop lovers amber to me. It does have a nice firm crystal malt backing, but the hop tones are a bit exotic for an amber. I personally like them. They are citric and lemony....rind-like and piney. What an interesting take on the style. And this comes from an East Coast brewery. Excellent. Body is a little better than medium and the mouthfeel is appropriately carbonated.

Thanks for the unique amber AKSmPort (779 characters)

Photo of jbone78
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have tasted several of Highland's beers and I think only one was about par. The rest were above.

A- Pours light brown/red with a bit of a haze. Nice lacing head.
S- Nice malty smell. I can not identify malt smells.
T- The thing with Scottish ales is the malty taste, but the malty taste is always unique.
This one has a flavor of malt that has a tiny hop character that fades and finishes with maltness. I like.
M- light malt mouthfeel that is not all sweet.
D- Being an American beer fan, I will buy again!

-Bye (522 characters)

Photo of orfeu
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle provided by the almighty oberon, shipped to him fresh from North Carolina -- many thanks! Ever-so-slightly-hazy burnished copper with an effervescently noisy onionskin-hued head. Mild citric hop-tea scent (bergamot and bitter orange) with an earthiness atop some biscuity malt aromas. Doughy and toasty -- the before and the after of bread? -- malt flavors come to the fore at first, followed by some mellow lemon and bergamot flavors; leafy hop flavors through and through. Bit of biscuity taste at the back. Solid taste, for sure. Medium light body, eminently quaffable. I know Irish Red Ales are supposed to be easy-to-drink, but this one here just about defines sessionability. Very nice ale. (703 characters)

Photo of cnjohn19
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

the more and more i taste beers from this brewery, the more and more i like them...their beer will not overwhelm you at first, but give it time, and don't give up on highlands...if nothing else b/c asheville is a hidden treasure...

pours a gorgeous red-orange...hold it up to the light and it becomes a deep red...the head is lacking for the most part and simply retreats over time...

a sweet smell of caramel, dark hard candy, and a tad mandarin orange...i think...malts dominate the nose...very balanced taste (almost too balanced for everything going on here)...a calm taste, malts def. shine through, with a slite piney hops aftertaste...very sweet, more than i was expecting, and i like it...the aftertaste takes a while to get used to, but once you do you grow to enjoy it...

at first the beer is very balanced, but upon swallowing it sharpens and becomes slightly bitter...i imagine the hops are coming through now...easy to enjoy several of these beers in the fall seasons...

the bottle reads: "a deep american amber colored ale, featuring a rich malty body. cascade and willamette hops add a complex hop flavor and aroma. this ale is exceptionally balanced between malty sweetness and delicate hop bitterness."...overall, i think they nailed it...cheers to highland for this one.... (1,295 characters)

Photo of beerdown77
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my favorite Highland beer by far. It is well balanced beer. Different than Kashmir and St. Theresa, it doesn't have a metallic taste. It is slightly darker than you would expect. It pours almost brown. In addition to the hops and malt, it has a little bit of what you would expect from a brown ale...maple?

It's packed with flavor, but not too heavy or chew-spitty. Simply put this beer exceeded my expectations and is a must try if you ever find yourself in Ashville, NC. (481 characters)

Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer arrived on the table a deep amber with a golden hue and a small bubble long lasting head which laced the glass.

The aroma was malty with caramel and slightly spicy hops.

The flavor was deeply malty with a nice hop bitterness backbone to balance the malty nature of the beer.

The finish was malty yet dry with well done and lasting hop bitterness. The body was medium.

Pint at Barley's in Knoxville. I doubt it is an Irish Red Ale, more of a bastardized Oktoberfest. Very malty and well accomplished. (520 characters)

Photo of mbrown26
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Was drinking from a bottle, so impossible to tell. Going to have to get a six pack soon and edit my review.

S: From the bottle there were a lot of malty notes.

T: Tasted very nice with a nutty taste that a nice hop bitterness at the end. I'm not a hop guy, but this one wasn't overpowering at all. Had a nice balance. A quality product.

M: Carbonation was just right.

D: Easy to drink and well worth it when you can find it. Fortunately, I'm in Asheville, and this one is an easy find for me. (500 characters)

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Part of the mixed 12 pack, one of the overall best ones in their IMHO. Beautiful amber color, nice frothy head. Hoppy aroma. Taste smacks you with caramel upfront, a nice sweetness balanced with hops and a good malt backbone. Finishes smooth and clean, just a great beer all around. A very common style but this is one of the better interpretations I've had, worth seeking out. (377 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 russpowell
4.22/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured brown with 3+ fingers of tan head. Great lacing & above average head retention.

S: Bready with seet malt & a hint of maple syrup

T: Cakey with herbal & piney hops up front. Roasted malt comes to the fore as this warms along with grapefruitty & piney hops. Finishes with loads of caramel & earthy hops

MF: Medium-bodied with a little slickness & low carbonation

Drank really easy, colud session on this, no problem! (434 characters)

Photo of gabe23
4.22/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Clear dark amber with an off white head. Good retention and great lacing.

S - Caramel malt with some hops in the background. As with most Highland brews, it has a nice natural, earthy smell.

T - The taste matches the smell almost perfectly. Sweet caramel/brown sugar malt that is well-balanced with bite from the hops. The finish is nice and clean.

M - Medium body with plenty of smoothness. Not overly carbonated.

D - I love this beer, and I could drink a lot of it. I've become a real Highland junkie, and the Gaelic Ale is one of their better offerings. (564 characters)

Photo of mmmbeer
4.22/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A pint on-tap at the Red Drum Taphouse in NC. It arrives a clear chestnut, with low carbonation and a half-inch of khaki head that leaves decent lacing. Smells earthy and smoked, fruity, with some caramel, light hops, and a dash of currants. It is a fairly malty beer, with earth, caramel, toffee, and toasted notes, barely balanced by herbal/minty and grassy/spicy hops that impart a medium bitterness. Nearly full on the palate, smooth and coating, with light carbonation and a medium finish. Overall a tasty brew, and well-balanced despite the large amounts of malts. (570 characters)

Photo of rustymoore
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish copper with a thick robust head that leads to a good amount of lacing. Smells of spices and hops. A bit fruity as well. Taste is sweet with brown sugar and caramel with a strong hop presence. Very tasty. Will have to incorporate this brew into my regular rotation as well. (288 characters)

Photo of Reagan1984
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, damn good looking beer out of the bottle.

Bright reddish amber color with perfect clarity. Nice white head that's about a finger and ½ thick. Slowly settles to a small cap.

Aroma is classic for Amber ale with some sweetness, but a nice toasted malt aroma. Bread crust.

Flavor is nice and deep. Toasted malt with a fresh fruity background. Then you get a nice hop bite. Really well balanced. For some reason I am really drawn to the toasty notes here. The aftertaste is a wonderful mélange of toasty notes and some hop bitterness. Nice bread notes.

Body is medium... Carbonation is spot on...

Wonderfully drinkable.

Nicely done!! (641 characters)

Photo of Cyberkedi
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It comes out of the tap a rich, translucent mahogany with a fine-bubbled tan head. Aroma is mainly malty with a hint of spice. Flavor is rich and malty and has a strong spicy undertone. This ale's texture is smooth, but it goes down with some sass and zing. (257 characters)

Photo of RedneckBeerz
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Bell's pint glass and the brew is a clear amber (duh) color with a smallish off white head. There is thinnish sliding lacing on the glass.

The aroma is amber malts and hops (Cascade and Willamette according to the bottle).

The flvor follows the nose and it is very well balanced malt and hops bill with the bittering hops leaving a bit on the tongue.

The mouthfeel is a hint under medium with lowish carbination and a semi dry finish thanks to the bittering hops. This brew is spot on as far as style description goes and it is definately a great drinker that could easily be consumed all day long or untill one was face down in the gravel.

Although it's not that complex, it's an AAA, there's no need for it to be. Tipping my old worn out Dale Earnhart hat to you Highland Brewing, for a great American Amber ! (856 characters)

Photo of JISurfer
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Another great beer form the South! These guys know thier stuff about brewing. It's ashame though, that I can hardly find it here in Va. It is abundant down in my home state of SC. It's golden and has a little head to it, but that goes away after a few minutes. But the head doesn't necessarily make the beer and this prooves it. They have a good line of quality beers, so give 'em a chance if you can. (401 characters)

Photo of charlesw
4.27/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours, well, amber. A little on the orange side and yet dark. Small tan head that fades quickly to a lacing that completely covers and lasts forever.

Smell? Wow. Like, malts. A huge caramel nose - like, hmm, an Eku 28, you know what I mean?

Ah. Well, it's not a 10% abv beer so you shouldn't expect it to taste like the Eku... A pleasant amber session ale. Nice and easy on the tongue - no one flavor really shouts anything else down (well, you can just taste the aforementioned malts - but not overly so. Enough to know that they're there). Very very easy to drink... And, hey, it makes a great sorbet, too. Probably because it is so smooth and even... Really, with your buddies in the pub and pitchers of this, well, you're all set!

The body is on the lighter side of medium, but with the crisp freshness of the flavor that goes just fine.

Edit: Ok, ok, the taste is good and has been upgraded! Still, it's not a beer that I'd go out of my way to get - _for_me_ it's a very pleasant session beer... (1,012 characters)

Photo of Ryan011235
4.27/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter on 12/10/09

10/20/09 etched on the bottle

A - Hazy, dark copper with highlights of burnt amber, crimson & rust. An aggressive pour resulted in but an 1/8th inch all but disappears quickly. Swirling causes this process to repeat with some bubbles clinging to the perimeter. Small spots of lacing line the glass.

S - Sweet caramel malt is most notable with a decent dry biscuit-like aroma as well. This is offset by modest hop notes; most evident as earthy & floral with just a few faint hints of citrus.

T - Thankfully the hops are more assertive here than in the nose. Floral hops greet the tongue & are followed by spicy bitterness - hints of pine & maybe tangerine. Still prominent is the malt bill which comes across as very toasted. Caramel, though, is still distinct.

M - Heavier side of medium bodied. It leans more towards the creamy end of the carbonation spectrum, though plenty of prickles are to be found on the front end. Bitterness lingers shortly on the finish.

D - Drinkability is awesome. This is a nicely balanced beer with plenty of good flavor. I do like that it is fairly hoppy. Easily recommended. (1,149 characters)

Highland Gaelic Ale from Highland Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 516 ratings.