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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: 1,325
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: 1,325
Photo of BrewnZ
2.9/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Had this at Barley's Tap house in Knoxville, TN.

Deep copper colored beer with white head, hops and crystal malt in the nose.

Medium bodied with big crystal malt flavor, then spicy American hops running up the back. Finishes with lingering crystal malt flavor. A decent if, but not really exciting beer. (309 characters)

Photo of homersimpson
4.47/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear reddish brown with a light tan head that lingers for a while
Floral hop notes with a sweet malt background
Medium body with decent carbonation, smooth mouthfeel
Smooth malty flavor is balanced by a citrusy Williamette and Cascade hop finish that lingers.
One of my favorite North Carolina brews. Great session beer. Get kegs of it for cookouts during the summer. (372 characters)

Photo of thatguy3579
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Clear, copper toned, and with very little head.

S: Sweet like raisins and with some citrus.

T: A good citrus bite balances well with roasted sweetness which lingers.

M: Thin and lightly carbonated.

D: Lots of nicely balanced bitter and sweetness, which is not overpowering. (280 characters)

Photo of AlexanderSelby
3.69/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful clear amber with a nice head and serious lacing. Smell is slightly underwhelming, compared to the rest of it's traits. I avoided this beer for a while because of the Gaelic name, assuming it were Wee Heavy Scottish Ale - which it is not. This is an American style amber/red. However, Highland Brewery does, after all, stylize itself after traditional Scottish breweries, so it is impossible to be completely rid of that malty influence. The result is almost perfect: an American well-hopped amber that warms and smooths itself out with sweet, bready malts. Flavor is caramel and honey-ham with a prevalent earthy hop bite.

This insane balance is both this beers high-point and set-back. The character is neither a hoppy and bitter nor smooth and malty, which is pleasing balance, but it is also a bit underwhelming. Deciding which way to think about this beer is a little like deciding between two really great movies you want to watch: once you settle down and pick one, you miss the other. (1,010 characters)

Photo of lespaulrocker
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewing from notes:

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A: Poured a deep copper/amber color, very little head, minimal lacing. Aesthetically pleasing, but I wish there was more head and lacing.

S: Bread, caramel, spicy and citrusy hops.

T: Lots of malts, caramel, grain, and bread. Citrus and bitter hops. Grain and semi-sweet finish.

M: Creamy and smooth. Medium body.

D: Medium drinkability.

Good beer. I'm a fan. (429 characters)

Photo of Gish
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ahh, I've had this one on tap many times but I actually bought a bottle for once.

Poured into a standard pint glass.

A - Dark amber with a modest head and good lacing.

S - Malt sweetness with spicy herbal undertones.

T - Highland Gaelic has a rich toasted and nutty flavor profile. In fact it seems a bit maltier than what I've had on tap. However, the hops do come out and balance it fairly well. I would personally like a bit more of a hop presence though.

M - Medium bodied and not very carbonated.

D - A great session beer that we are lucky to have in this area. Props again to Highland! (597 characters)

Photo of FloppyDog
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass with a thin, fast-dissipating white head. It had a nice orange amber color to it as well.

The aroma was predominantly of spicy and floral hops with a slightly noticeable caramel background.

The taste began with floral hops up front, followed by caramel sweetness, and finished crisp and dry. It was fairly well balanced, although I prefer a slightly more malt driven version of the style.

The mouth feel was slightly prickly from the carbonation, with a medium-light body. It was easy drinking and went nicely with the bbq chicken pizza I was eating. (588 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 cktison
3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle pour to pint glass.
A: Hazy amber with off-white 1" head. Nice retention, very little lacing.
S: Sweet malts, caramels and very little hop notes.
T: Really nice balance. More hops appear, nice sugary sweet and caramel hops. Great taste.
M: Nice and smooth, no bitterness, alcohol is not apparent at all.
D: Great. This is a good beer that really goes down smoothly. Nice session beer, for sure. (412 characters)

Photo of DanThomas
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Bright brown, coppery, color with a bit of red. Thin white rim of foam, leaves a little on the glass. Cloudy

S - Rather sweet, almost like brown sugar, caramelized apple, rye. I really like the smell.

T - Brown sugar definitely, caramel, some malt base to it, especially as the beer has warmed. Don't notice hops until the finish, as they cleanse the palate very well (exactly what hops are good for).

M - Very nice. The aforementioned hop finish is refreshing, good level of carbonation.

D - Overall, excellent. Would go well with several different foods, and I would enjoy a nice session evening with this beer. Great job Highland! (641 characters)

Photo of lewzer99
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- pours a light copper color with a nice finger width head. Head lasts a pretty good while, leaving lacing.
S- alot of floral hippiness. A little bit of grape fruity citrus, and malty sweetness.
T- starts with a balance of hoppy bitterness and malty sweetness, then citrus. Finishes with a hoppy bite.
M- nice medium body. Very drinkable.
O- tasty. I would get it again (370 characters)

Photo of TheStig
3.46/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, translucent and reddish caramel color with a fast receding head and no lacing. A soft, sweet smell of cool, wet forest wafts up, but is very subtle. Gentle, bittersweet notes interlaced with oats and a very minor yeast taste. A proud hoppiness pulls through entire tasting experience, but is not overly strong. A hearty, honey-like sweetness exists as a subtle base. Fair carbonation and an overall lightness produce an enjoyable mouthfeel.

Thank god this comes in a six-pack, because it's a very tasty, very drinkable beer. (540 characters)

Photo of 0tt0
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice, reddish amber with an creamy off-white head. Nose is of caramel and bread with a light honey-like sweetness faintly in the background. Flavor is remarkably balanced: Caramely, rich malts dominate with a nice hop tingle. The hops, however, don't get lost at all. The finish is long and lingering.

The real star of the show, though, is the mouthfeel. Its medium-full and creamy and pushes what is clearly a good beer into another realm. Terrific on a cool fall evening. (482 characters)

Photo of IceTrey9785
3.56/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got a six-pack for $8.49 -- a beer from my native area? Why not?

A: I poured the ale into a standard English pub glass, light carbonation, and good lacing. A nice, creamy, froth remains on the top of the brew, but not as overwhelming as a Smithick's, for example.

S: Sweet caramel malts, perhaps a little dried fruit like raisins or prunes, but there is a noticeable hop bitterness, once you get past the sweet malt. I keep thinking of candy apples with this one.

T&M: Wonderful taste -- almost a weak coffee finish, preceded by caramel and toffee on the mid-palate. Some spice like nutmeg or brown sugar is also present. As the ale warms, there is a very distinct nutty finish, reminiscent of hazelnuts. Creamy texture, but relatively light to medium body. This is a great red ale for summer, just enough malty character, laced with fresh hops (rather faint), and superb drinkability.

I really like this beer. It is simple, smooth, and has some character, but I have to admit I'm not blown away. I think either the addition of more intense hops, or malt (or both) would really allow this ale to stand out. If you're looking for something other than a Yuengling on a hot day, this would be a nice alternative. I'd love to see the difference on-tap. Fantastic house ale... (1,276 characters)

Photo of dmbsteve
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours amber with a one finger off-white head that quickly dissipated to a thin layer. Left decent lacing.

Smell is malty - sweet and bready. Not much hop aroma, although both my nose and taste could have been a bit off after drinking a couple of hoppy IPA's earlier in the session.

Taste is, again very malty. A sweet tinge stays on the tongue for a while. Small amount of bittering hops. I had actually thought this was a scotch ale because of the malt character (and the name), until I looked it up on AB. Either way, it tastes good.

Mouthfeel is on the lighter side which is strange. I expected more body in a malty brew like this. However, it was served in a cold mug so that probably attributed to the lighter perceived body.

Overall a tasty and very sessionable beer from what I think is one of the Southeast's better craft breweries. (844 characters)

Photo of Schwarzwald
3.73/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a good beer on tap. I have had the bottle as well and it's not so good. I really like a cold tap though. Great with pizza and the taste can hold up to rich food. It has a great orange-rust color with a lot of bitey carbonation. Give it a try on tap... a lot better than the bottle. (289 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 knm
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured hard into a chilled glass, minimal head. Good carbonation, color of light amber with no cloudiness.
Smells of cider or something almost musty, but leaves you wanting another wiff.
Very strong aged taste with yeast and ginger after thoughts. I can't get enough, somewhat dry, but totally drinkable. Good beer..Looks like NC does it right! Thank you CBlack85 (363 characters)

Photo of PierceMyers
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

It produced a small head and wasn't very carbonated. The color is a great clear red however, which makes for a solid appearance.

It was served colder than recommended which altered the initial flavor of the beer. Once it warmed up some I could really taste its finer notes which I could best describe as woody and caramel(ly). The amber aroma got stronger as well.

The mouthfeel got better as it warmed, but it seemed to run over the palate without wanting to stick around. The last couple ounces were very enjoyable, however, enough to make me alter my initial ratings.

The beer has a very great combination of flavoring and drinkability. The aroma is nice and the tones are solid as well. I didn't see to much of the bite that I read about, and a little more carbonation would have been nice. All around, I will buy it again. And make sure to serve it around 45 degrees! (878 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 dubman003
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is an excellent beer, but if Highland's Oatmeal Porter and Gaelic Ale were both available, I'd definitely do the porter. The Ale is not thick as a porter, obviously, but it has hints of the porter taste--a porter light, perhaps.

Even though the "style" is irish red ale, the gaelic is on another level of red ale excellence. It's distinct and should be the first thing you order when it's on the menu. Enjoy. (417 characters)

Photo of cjl1209
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

"A deep amber colored American 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." Website says Chinook hops too.

A - Medium brown/cola color with a very small tan head. Surprisingly nice lacing considering the lame head.

S - Intense floral scent with light malt notes

T - Finely balanced just like advertised. On the tongue expect plenty of roasted malts while giving a good mouth swirl will yield a nice hoppy bitter characteristic. Bitterness lingers after you swallow and the malt flavor returns.

M - Smooth with light carbonation. Not exactly creamy but a bit heavier than expected.

D - This brew is easy drinking. However I could see the hops being a bit much after several of theses if you're not a fan of bitterness. (865 characters)

Photo of wmthorne
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A gift brew from a friend moving to Asheville. Great gift

Poured into a chilled mug. Pours a very rich amber color with little head. Nice lacing.

Very light carbonation in the mouthfeel. I taste caramel immediately.

This is quite a drinkable beer. The label mentions "hop bitterness" but I really don't get that until much later in the aftertaste.

This would be a great fall brew on a crisp morning sitting and setting up at a tailgate. (443 characters)

Photo of bluedognever
4.37/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Original Review 5-11-2014

Poured from a bottle into a frosty mug. It's a nice deep rich amber color with a soft, thick beige head. Rich taste without being heavy feeling. Biscuit and caramel with a slight hint of citrus. A very slight hop finish - just right. After a few minutes, head is mostly gone with some lacing.

This may be the best beer I've had in a quite a while

Added 6/13/2014

I discovered that I had another bottle of this. Rather funny but it paired extremely well with Mexican food - a very nice balance with the cilantro, peppers, tomatoes and other seasonings. (582 characters)

Photo of dataskatt
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my favorite American Amber/Red Ale so far. It pours a rich reddish brown with a generous head. This beer is wonderfully malty and creamy, with enough hops to balance it nicely. It is full flavored and rich, but not overly heavy. The smell is very malty with hints of caramel and nut. A very balanced red ale. (316 characters)

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