Highland Gaelic Ale - Highland Brewing

Not Rated.
Highland Gaelic AleHighland Gaelic Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

518 Reviews

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Reviews: 518
Hads: 1,335
Avg: 3.81
pDev: 19.16%
Wants: 31
Gots: 216 | 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: 518 | Hads: 1,335
Photo of Sammy
3.87/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A red ale with a touch of roasted malt that makes it on the Scottish heritage given Highland's theme. It's in the aroma, and the aroma gives off a booziness far behind its ranking. Quite malty and cinammoney and medium plus mouthfeel, with hop bitterness rounding off the finish.Reddish brown colour with white foam covering.

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Photo of metter98
3.8/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has a very light amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger high off white head that slowly faded away and left lacy patterns of bubbles.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of floral and grassy hops and caramel malts in the nose.
T: The taste has a slight amount of bitterness and a bit of sweetness along with flavors of caramel and toasted malts. There is a good balance between the hops and malts.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied and a bit thin on the palate with some crispness. There is a moderate amount of carbonation.
D: Drinking a few of these in a single sitting wouldn't be that difficult because it isn't that filling and doesn't have a high alcohol content.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.03/5  rDev -20.5%
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.

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Photo of brentk56
4.12/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy copper color with a fluffy egg shell colored head that leaves nice splotches of lace

Smell: Biscuity caramel malt aroma with some piney undertones

Taste: Lays down a nice biscuity caramel backbone which underlies some woody and earthy hop flavors, mid-palate; after the swallow, the sweet malt flavors re-assert themselves but the woody dryness keeps them in check

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: One of the best NC session brews out there; nice all around

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.15/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.01/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful orange-bronze with a healthy dose of brick red. The cap is pale caramel in color, a perfect match for the beer beneath, and is firmly creamy with a multitude of surface bubbles and pits. There's no shortage of glass coverage either (several chubby rings eventually show up at mid-glass). Highland brews quality beer and their appearances, along with everything else, never fail to impress.

The nose is a little lacking, both in terms of power and in terms of personality. It's maltier than it is hoppy, with a brown sugary caramel malt presence and a subtle, spicy hoppiness. I get the sense that there's something good going on, but I need more to go on.

There's definitely no shortage of goodness where the flavor is concerned. I'm not a huge fan of Irish red ales, but this one is very much to my liking; possibly because it tastes exactly like what I think beer of this style should taste like. Toasted caramel malt still leads the way and puts me in mind of fruit marmalade and apple butter slathered brown bread toast. Dee-licious.

There's a fair amount of spicy, citric hop flavor without a lot of attendant hop bitterness. The hop bill is a 'should be impressive' combination of Chinook, Willamette and Cascade, but the brewers have apparently decided not to make their Irish red taste like an IPA. Can't say that I blame 'em. There are plenty of hops to go around, even though they defer to malt throughout the entirety of the mouthful.

The finish is gorgeously balanced and is much more extended than anticipated; the better to enjoy the wonderful flavor that much longer. Highland hasn't let me down yet when it comes to body/mouthfeel, and hasn't here. The mouthfeel is easily the equal of the flavor and is a perfect fit for it.

Gaelic Ale just might be the best Irish red that I've had yet and is another wonderful example of the brewing brilliance on display down in the Tar Heel State. This one is a keeper, but then these guys only brew keepers. Slainte!

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Photo of zeff80
3.92/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, amber/orange color with a small, khaki colored head of foam. It left minimal lace.

S - It smelled of bready, sweet caramel with a citrusy kick.

T - It tasted of sweet caramel and grains with a grassy/mossy hop profile.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A light bodied beer with a fairly dry finish.

D - This is a nice ale. My first Highland brew and I enjoyed it.

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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.

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

Poured a dark amber/reddish hue with a nice cream colored head. Smell was sweet caramel malts with a hint of a corn or grain in it. The taste was very much sugary malts with again a bit of a grain or earthy back to it. Very nice actually. This is very nicely carbonated and goes down smooth. A good beer from Highland, this could easily be an all night beer as it is light and tasty!

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.28/5  rDev -13.9%
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.

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Photo of oline73
3.12/5  rDev -18.1%
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.

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Photo of nickfl
3.55/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Two fingers of white head on an amber-brown body with good clarity. The head doesn't stick around long, but there is nice lace.

S - Moderately dark malt character with light caramel and a hint of toffee. Some slightly fruity yeast with light sulphur.

T - Rich, moderately sweet malt with notes of toasted grain and toffee. The flavor darkens towards the finish with some plum notes and increasing toffee character.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - A reasonably drinkable, malty beer. There is very little hop character and while the beer remains balanced due to a surprising level of dryness. Unfortunately this robs the beer of complexity and causes the toasted malt character in the finish to become cloying.

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

A clear, reddish amber body is topped by a short but creamy head of off-white foam that holds quite well and maintains a thin lid throughout the glass, but leaves little more than some transient, spotty lace. Toasty and sweetish caramel malts and citrusy/earthy hops combine with a touch of yeasty fruitiness to lend a sweetened-fruit and malt character to the nose. The body is decidedly medium and it's very fine, natural carbonation from bottle-conditioning leaves it dextrinous, creamy, and smooth across the palate. The rich maltiness found in the nose returns in the flavor, but this time it's more toasty than "sweet" caramel, with a very subtle roasted edge and some low-level diacetyl. Its tempered with more earthy/mineral hop flavors than citrus; and a solid bitterness balances it quite nicely and leaves it rich and satisfying but still drinkable as the sweet malts are no longer able to become cloying. It can, however, build on the palate a bit with its fullness. Still, a splash of water, nip of cheese, or crust of bread can instantly take that down. Impressive!

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Photo of Kegatron
3.97/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a dimpled mug.

Pours a murky amber with a 1/2 finger width of off-white head that settles down into a thin layer of retention that left some decent lace. The aroma is caramel malts, toasted malts,light breadiness, and just the slightest pick up of hops in the back.

The taste pretty much matches the aroma profile. Caramel malt sweetness, roasted malts, and some light breadiness are nicely balanced by some lingering bittering hops in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a nice carbonated feel.

Very nice. I really liked the interaction of the roasted and caramel malts in this guy as well as the pleasant bitterness it ended with. A fine tasting and very drinkable Amber Ale.

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

Got this interesting guy thanks to beandip.

A: A light fluffy 1/2 finger head fades slowly and leaves a decent lacing. Some haze in the orange reddish slight rose colored beer.

N: Some toasty malts, little bready, fresh pale malt aroma, very light spices almost, little earthy juicy hop aroma too, and slightly grassy hops too.

T: Starts with toasty malts, lots of fresh malty pale malt flavors, little bready and toasty, light grassy hops, little earthy flavors, slightly spicy, crisp ale flavors.

M: Medium body with decent carbonation.

F: Finishes slightly dry with a slight sweetness, slight bitterness with a little grassy mild hop flavor, and some earthy flavors lingering. Crisp ale flavors also linger.

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Photo of mactrail
3.36/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Nice to look at, with dark amber color and decent head. Only a hint of malt but plenty of hops. Carbonation lasts well. Does have a nice beery smell when you sniff the glass, but not much nose as you sip and exhale.

Anemic malt with a hint of roasted flavors. Hops give very little to the aroma and leave a dishwatery aftertaste. I'm not sure what they're after with this beer. There are so many better amber ales, I can't believe this one should rate in the top 20.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.47/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired via trade from NClifestyle, so a big “”Thank You” goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a cloudy deep amber color, with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is malty with a heavy scent of tea and a little bit of caramel and hops.

T: The taste is likewise, very malty. Sweet tea and caramel flavors are the most dominant. There’s a little bit of hops flavor in there, just enough to provide some balance to the sweetness, but they get stronger as the beer starts to warm. The after-taste goes back to the malt sweetness.

M: Very smooth and very crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, clean and dry finish especially for a beer as sweet as this one.

D: This beer is quite tasty, very easy to drink and not too filling. It’s simplistic, as is the style, but very enjoyable. I think it’s an excellent representation of the Irish Red style.

When I first started on BA, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to try this beer. That just shows you the power of trading. I wasn’t disappointed at all. Looking forward to the other two Highland beers that I got in the trade and then trading for more.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
4.2/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.98/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear brownish amber with a thinner creme head. Nose is apply malts. Real leafy robustness. Flavor is thick malts. Touch of sweet apple tones. Leafy and earthy character. Smooth and sweet, but robust and a nice profile. Smooth, slick liquid feel. Just a slightly lower carbonation on things. Very drinkable. This beer on cask would probably be great.

Thanks to michaeld23 for this one.

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Photo of russpowell
4.22/5  rDev +10.8%
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!

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Photo of smcolw
3.8/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I have heard about this brewery for a couple of years but have yet to find any their beers offered in New England. I found this one at a restaurant in Atlanta.

Traditional neutral amber color. Mild head with no specific lace.

The aroma most closely resembles warmed milk to me. I don't detect any specific malts or hops but it is overall appealing.

The taste is better than most. I particularly enjoy the balance. There's a solid (lighter) malt base with a pleasant hop counterpoint--not really bitter or biting. The body is okay, but the carbonation seems to be a little high.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.67/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Color here is a dark ruby, but there is no head that I can report. Aroma is sweet and fruity. Malt is huge in this ale, hops have a small role, but still, the body is full, and the mouthfeel generous and tasty. Much more flavorful than other ales I've encountered recently. Worthy to associate itself with Irish reds. Thanks to Uglyradio.

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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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Photo of jwc215
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Wasatch for including this in a trade.

Pours orange amber with a thin white bubbly head taht retreats into a ring, leaving spotted lacing.

The smell is of caramel with a light citric fruitiness.

The taste is of a maltiness of an Irish Red with a subtle fruity citric hop backing. Malty sweetness rounded by a bitterness in the finish. An Irish Red with an American hop twist - Interesting and tasty.

Lighter side of medium-bodied, with soft to medium carbonation, this is a well-balanced amber ale that is very quaffable.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.03/5  rDev -20.5%
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.

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Highland Gaelic Ale from Highland Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 518 ratings.