1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Highland Gaelic Ale - Highland Brewing

Not Rated.
Highland Gaelic AleHighland Gaelic Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

1,181 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,181
Reviews: 501
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 11.55%
Wants: 28
Gots: 119 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: pezoids on 01-11-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Highland Gaelic Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,181 | Reviews: 501 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.13/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to ncvbc for this stuff!
12 0z. bottle > 16 oz. SA glass.

This one pours out as a deep, reddish amber color with good carbonation and a one-finger, off-white head that dissipates pretty quick but has plenty of scattered covering left over, moderatly sticky.

Sweet malt in the nose, caramel, subtle fruity notes of raspberry tarts, hemp seeds, herbal and earthy hop notes way down.

This is a very malty brew for an American Amber style, Sweet toffee, fried dough-like maltiness that is bold, much bolder than the aroma. It's pretty complex for this style too, with a nice hoppy counter balance of fruits, lush red berries, raspberry tarts, earthy, leafy, but it's a sublime balance overall. The finish is an easy wheaty, herbal and alsmost zesty effect, really hardy at the end.

Light to medium feel, crisp, clean, decent bite that smooths out just as it goes down.

This is really very good for a style that is ofter mediocre at best. And the bagpipes, man you gotta love the bagpipes!

GratefulBeerGuy, Feb 13, 2008
Photo of Kegatron
3.98/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

Kegatron, Feb 13, 2008
Photo of armock
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured a nice amber color with a tan head

S - Is mostly of sweet malt

T - Is of sweet caramel malt upfront and has a nice hop finish

M - This is a medium bodied beer with a good level of carbonation

D - This is a very good ale that I really enjoyed this one a good taste this is worth trying sometime

armock, Feb 03, 2008
Photo of Sammy
3.85/5  rDev +1%
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.

Sammy, Jan 28, 2008
Photo of SIRIUS2
3.18/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

SIRIUS2, Jan 26, 2008
Photo of bboven
3.98/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really think these new hoppier reds need their own style, but so it is.

Straight-up copper color, clear with a bi head and respectable lacing.

A surprising amount of hops in the aroma, biscuity and sweet malt also dancing around.

This one tastes more like a malty pale ale than an amber. The hops lay too prominent a roll to be true to style, but it's very tasty regardless.

Pretty spritzy carbonation lifts the flavor off the tongue pretty quickly. Pretty drying from the big hop profile.

Very tasty beer, just not a true amber. I buy this stuff a lot, usually on-tap and it never disappoints. Really good if you can't decide between a malty or hoppy beer.

bboven, Jan 19, 2008
Photo of czfreeman
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My first highland brew. Lovely reddish brown color, retains a consistent two-finger head. lots of malts, maple, caramels,sugars on the nose. Fruits, predominatley apple flavor, sweet malts, slight caramel on the finish. Sweet on the initial mouthfeel but has a bit of a tart finish. Good flavor, but maybe a little sweet for my liking. A good offering of this style, not too hoppy and quite enjoyable.

czfreeman, Jan 09, 2008
Photo of tmitch75
3.55/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep amber color with toasty head and some lacing.

Smell is malty with some nuttiness.

Toasty caramel & nut flavor with sweet malt with a slightly hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel is full-bodied & smooth.

A very tasty beer that I will definitely seek out next time I am in the region.

tmitch75, Jan 08, 2008
Photo of BDIMike
4.35/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is pale reddish color. Small carbonation and a great sized head.
Smells awesome. Starts with a smell of malts and nuts. Smells of hops, sugars, and other sweet smells after.
Great taste. Hoppy at first. Balanced with a good caramel malt taste. Ends with a sweeter taste. Very well-rounded. Lots of flavor.
Mouthfeel has a nice thickness. Smooth going down. Not sharp at all.
Great beer. I did not expect this to be as good as it was. Could drink this one all day.

BDIMike, Jan 06, 2008
Photo of MMAJYK
3.48/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Nice amber in color with darker brown hues. This beer is non-transparent. Head is white and one finger, but has a little bit darker (off white) outline around the edge of the glass after a medium pour.

S- Buttery nuts and caramel are the first hits on the nose. After a swirl of the glass, I pick up some hoppy scents. There is a brown sugar, malty smell present too.

T- Tastes follow very closely to the nose, carrying over the nutty and buttery aspects. The malt is very sweet and very prominent in the taste. There is a slight biscuity taste here too.

M- The carbonation is low to medium and the thickness is on the thin side. Not my favorite aspect of this beer.

D- This beer is nice and smooth. The mouthfeel, to me, needs to be a little more crisp than dull like this one is. I feel it would be a little more enjoyable and refreshing if the carbonation was up a little.

Overall- This is a nice offering, but not on the top of my list. Of course, I am not too big on this style of beer either, but I was really excited initally with this one. Toward the middle to the end of this beer, I was let down. It was like it fell flat on its face after the first taste or two. BUT, I did like it, and I would definitely drink another.

MMAJYK, Dec 27, 2007
Photo of mmmbeer
4.25/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

mmmbeer, Dec 18, 2007
Photo of LittleBreeze
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

11/20/2007 Beer Thirty

Thanks stopbarking for sending this one.

Nice clean, flavorful and uncomplicated beer. I detected citrus and earthy aromas. A touch of brown sugar.
Fizzy. In this season of RIS, fizzy was a surprise. Thin head.

Mouthfeel wasn't there for me. Thin...Lacks body
Easy enough to drink several.

LittleBreeze, Nov 21, 2007
Photo of jokelahoma
3.98/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Quaffed a pint at Old Chicago in Wake Forest, NC

This one came to me a pretty little tawny brownish-red pint, with a fairly decent sized and very sticky head that laced like grandma's doilies. Nice and appetizing to look at.

The aroma was very malty, with a lot of dark fruits and a bit of buttery toffee coming to the front. It smells really sweet, and yet nice and roasty/toasty. Surprisingly mouthwatering nose, to mix anatomical references.

The taste isn't as sweet as the nose suggests, as the roasted malts seem to balance the sweetness with the faux bitterness they provide, even in the absence of much in the way of hoppiness. In other words, this isn't terribly hoppy to say the least, but the chocolate malts with their bittersweet dark chocolate flavors seem to keep everything well in line. The enticing toffee aroma doesn't ranslate to the taste, thankfully, as there is no buttery diacetyl flavor here at all. This is definitely a malt-forward beer, as the style would dictate, but roasty enough and with just enough bitterness to make it well balanced. Quite nicely done, really.

The mouthfeel leans toward the heavier side. Certainly not an imperial stout, but heavy enough to be substantial. This adds to the complexity of the beer, and is a nice fit for the style.

This one drinks bigger than what it is, and that's a compliment. It's not overly sweet or caramelly, as far too many ambers or red can tend to be, but neither is it too roasty, like a stout with a serious pigmentation problem. This is a well balanced, fruity, malty, chocolatey beer. Well made, and worth trying.

jokelahoma, Nov 01, 2007
Photo of shivtim
3.58/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cloudy orange/brown with a dense foamy head. Leaves some lacing too. Nose is simple sweet malts and some alcohol. Taste is mild hops with molasses sweetness, some spice, and toasted malts at the end. Mouthfeel is good and drinkability is pretty good too.

shivtim, Oct 18, 2007
Photo of Wasatch
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to bboven for this one.

Pours a nice amber color, nice carbonation, nice fizzy white head, some nice sticky lacing to follow. The nose is malty and lots of caramel. The taste is malty, sweet, slight bitterness, and a good dose of caramel. Medium body. Drinkable, a nice above average amber ale.

Wasatch, Oct 13, 2007
Photo of Vancer
4.18/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

Vancer, Oct 10, 2007
Photo of Durge
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another one of my experiences at Tyler's Tap Room in Durham, NC. This poured a dark brown-copper color with a decent head and great lace throughout. It had a mild but nice chocolate malt aroma. The taste brought more sweet malt goodness with touches of caramel and butterscotch quite evident. There is a more subtle hops presence which brings in a dry grassy quality in the finish. I even detected a slight fruit highlight, like melon maybe. Very active carbonation and quite drinkable for this style. Definitely recommended for a try and I will enjoy again.

Update 07/30/08: A dark copper color ale with a solid off-white head and some goodly gobs of lacing. The aroma is a mild malty cereal deal, hard to nail down and not particularly strong. The flavor is much more definitive in great malt character with some clove and raspberry/cherry and chocolate. Really complex and fun to drink. Well carbonated and not heavy in alcohol so it is easy drinking for the style. Medium feel, maybe even a bit light for this type of brew but very enjoyable. Definitely try this one as something easy to like and a little different. Malt is the theme and it's a good one.

Durge, Oct 01, 2007
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.25/5  rDev -14.7%
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.

ChainGangGuy, Sep 25, 2007
Photo of wagenvolks
3.8/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this on-tap at the Hibernian in Cary, NC.

Pours a transparent, mahogany-amber hued ale with a generous light tan head that was well retained and left excellent lacing. The aroma was pretty weak (may have been due to other bar smells), but some notes of sweetened malts and a bit of piney hop are present.

The taste was quite good. A big malty backbone with touches of carmel and brown sugar dominated the palate, while a decent hoppiness rounded off the flavor. A slight fruitiness rounded out the flavor. Mouthfeel was smooth and light-bodied, with a lack of bitterness to it that was more than made up for by the malty sweetness. Drinkability was superior as well, I could've had a few of these if time had permitted.

wagenvolks, Sep 21, 2007
Photo of cracgor
4.05/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

cracgor, Sep 10, 2007
Photo of
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle from bobbyc881 - Thanks!

Clear, orange/brown in color. Medium sized, creamy, light tan head.

Smells like a malt bomb. Toffee and raisins. Honey. Herbal notes.

Taste is quite different from smell, more bitter than sweet. Herbal hops. Touch of coffee/roast notes. Biscuity in the middle. Bit of caramel sweetness as it warms.

Medium body. Medium to high carbonation. Fairly dry.

Overall quite drinkable. Nicely balanced. I would certainly have again.

, Sep 07, 2007
Photo of hellcatsjg
3.93/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark amber color with little to no head. About right for an amber ale.

Smell: Sweet, malty, and a tiny bit hoppy.

Taste: Starts with a nutty sweet flavor with hints of malt and caramel. Finish is slightly hoppy and very clean.

Mouthfeel: A bit thicker than many other beers of this style. Light carbonation makes this very smooth. Does not leave much of an aftertaste, but what is there is faint hops.

Drinkability: Good beer. The sweet and nutty flavors blend well with the hops at the end for a tasty combination.

hellcatsjg, Sep 05, 2007
Photo of CharlieMopps
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A deep amber hue with ruby highlights topped by just over two fingers of dense, tightly-bubbled head that displayed good retention.

S: Big bready malt notes in the nose, smells quite delicious, on par with other amber ales.

T: Grainy malt flavors rush forth in the intro and transition smoothly to a light hop bitterness that fades into the finish, leaving a tasty residual aftertaste.

M: Carbonation is at a prime level for enjoying the flavor, and the mouthfeel seems to go from light and crisp up front to creamier and thicker toward the finish.

D: Pretty good job on this amber ale, definitely stands out. The balance of this beer is what makes it a great choice, and the malt character is one for those who are looking for that bread-like fix.

CharlieMopps, Aug 26, 2007
Photo of loren01
4.08/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured amber reddish color, good sized white head. Slight lacing down the glass
S: Sweet, malty/biscut scent. Hint of maple syrup
T: Sweetness up front. Caramel/toffee flavors. Plenty sweet, some might think too sweet....for me pretty tasty, just right in my book. A slight bit of hoppiness in the aftertaste
M: Medium bodied beer, smooth goes down easy.
D: Very good beer, if I could get this beer I would drink it quite often. I think I need to find a clone recipie so I can try making this beer cause I think it would go over pretty well with most everybody.

loren01, Aug 24, 2007
Photo of kirok1999
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice clear off amber color. Smell is rich and malty promising deep caramel and slight hops.
Taste is very nice, rich malt at first, nice caramel, some dark fruit in the finish and maybe some citrus hops. The frutiness becomes much more apparent as it warms a bit. Not overwhelming but just there enough to let you notice it.
A very nice sipper or a hot afternoon brew.

kirok1999, Aug 23, 2007
Highland Gaelic Ale from Highland Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 1,181 ratings.