Highland Gaelic Ale - Highland Brewing

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Highland Gaelic AleHighland Gaelic Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

1,301 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,301
Reviews: 531
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 11.81%
Wants: 30
Gots: 196 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,301 | Reviews: 531
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!

Photo of MrHolland
4.3/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark mahogany red with a thin off white head into my pint glass.

Smell - Has a citrus hop front to it not really much of anything else.

Taste - This is a pretty hoppy beer and is very balanced with the malts. Bitter hops at first then has a malt sweetness to end with.

Mouthfeel - Very smooth and clean, soft on the palate with ample amount of carbonation.

I really enjoy this brew.. One of my first of this style and will deff. be revisiting.

Photo of redelephantdane
3.38/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

appearance : dark orange, apricot colored and murky, one finger head that quickly dissipates leaves a little lace.

smell: light floral notes, some sweet fruit, grapes, berries.

taste: well balanced, bottle says a good amount of malty sweetness but i didnt really taste that much malt. little to no hops come throught, floral and balanced.

mouthfeel: smooth as hell, i could drink a sixer of these with out hesitation. flavor stays on the top of your mouth long after swallowed.

drinkability: real easy. fans of balanced beers will love this ale. drinking this beer brings me back to my parents garden, smelling all the flowers around me.

Photo of MSchae1017
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer was tasted in a pint glass from the bottle.

This beer pours a dark garnett-red with a frothy off white head that laces a little and leaves a bit of film the whole way down. The smells seems to be a mixture of pale and subtle roasted nutty malts. The taste brings back the same flavors present in the aromas however there is also a dimension of balanced subtle hoppiness that adds a slight bit of bitterness. There is a good amount of carbonation that combines nicely with some thickness that makes this beer have a good mouthfeel. Overall another good offering from the Highland Brewing company out of Asheville, NC

Photo of clemtig76
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow - what a great looking beer! Pours a beautiful deep amber/mahogany color with a thick tan head. Good head retention as well as some sticky lacing. Sweet malty caramel like aroma with just a little citrusy hops in the background. Taste is a near perfect balance between the rich, sweet malts and hop bitterness. My first Highland beer and certainly not my last.

Photo of Metalmonk
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Everything about this beer is pleasant and mellow. Glassy reddish/ruby color. Modest foamy head settles pretty quick from an aggressive pour. Carbonation is there but slow and steady.

Smell is primarily malty, which brings out an almost cherry Nibs candy aroma, with some obvious hop undertones. Aromas could be more out front, I don't have a cold or anything and I'm just not "feeling it". Flavor is full, satisfying, crisp and dry, with an unobtrusive hoppy snap. Mouthfeel is really nice. With the insane amount of beers and styles out there, some don't even feel like Beer with a capital B, but when you have this one in the mouth, you know it's the real thing.

Good stuff that you could enjoy a few of in one sitting.

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

A solid beer from Highland, courtesy of NClifestyle. A bit more hoppy than the customary Irish Red, more in line with the American amber. Poured a chestnut with amber highlights. Not a lot of head on aggressive pour. Hopping was firm, but not excessive for the style, with a hint of grass and mild herbal notes. Went just a bit acidic at the finish, which helped clean up.

Photo of AlexJ
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draft pour produces a bright, copper amber brew with a small, but dense head of oatmeal hued froth, which leaves delicate lace as it disappears.

Aroma is predominantly sweet, roasty malts with touches of wildflowers, earthy hops, and a faint essence of citrus.

Flavor is mild and smooth with malty flavors on the fore and soft wildflower, honey, and English-tasting hops in the finish.

Body is medium, smooth and silky, with sift carbonation stemming from a constant stream of tiny rising bubbles.

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

12 oz. bottle Pint glass
Apearance: Nice amber color with a quickly fading light tannish head
Aroma:Sweet malt and Caramel with some hop spicyness
Taste:I thought this was a scotch ale, the maltiness was dominate the hops drys up some of the sweetness but I didnt notice a big
PNW hop profile .
Drinkabilty: heck yea get you some!I think its a great amber that should appeal to most beer lovers

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

appearance: thin white head, copper in color

smell: There is a nice balance of malt and hops. Plenty of fruity caramel type malt sweetness comes through, and some fresh hop aroma provides some balance. Very nice aroma for a red.

mouthfeel: Carbonation is around medium and the body the same, with a slight slickness left behind on the tongue.

taste: Very much like the aroma in terms of balance. The malts are well offset by the hops, which contribute bitterness as well as flavor. One of the more bitter reds I''ve had, and well done.

drinkability: limit of about 4 for me

Photo of sinistrsam
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The Gaelic Ale was served in a pint glass with a mediocre head and very impressive lacing. The color was a wonderful red-amber. I did my best to take in the bouquet and decipher what made it up, but couldn't get a good read. Maybe served too cold, maybe just a beer with mediocre aromatics.
The taste started off interestingly, somewhat bitter and quite hoppy, but quickly faded into a watery, tasteless beer. It had no tatse of being skunky or anything like that, but just finished with litle or no taste at all. The mouthfeel was also relatively flat, watery and uninteresting. it was a decent beer to have with friends but nothing very impressive.

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.

Photo of RedwoodGeorge
3.58/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

What an interesting concept - an Irish Red Ale made with Pacific Northwest hops. The brew pours a beautiful amber red with a thinish off-white head. Very little lacing after the head dies off to a thin white ring.

The nose is very Red Ale - plenty of fruit notes and distinctive yeast note reminiscent of my favorite English Pale Ales. Taste is the same - lots of deep rich malty notes, some plum and apricot and a bit of that yeasty 'twang'. Surprisingly, even though the brewer goes out of their way to point out the Chinook, Willamette and Cascade hops, they're really not that evident in this brew. Yes, it's certainly not a Fuggle / Golding blend but they've gone light enough on the hops that it's hard to tell just what they've used.

Mouthfeel is to style - not much bittering on the back end, low carbonation on a medium bodied brew, light oily coating on the palate with each finish.

All in all a drinkable brew - the folk at Highland have done a very nice job of using the proper yeast and feeding it the proper malts to get a very authentic Irish Red body. They deviate from the style by using PNW hops but seemingly don't have the guts to fully commit by really hopping it up. Still, I'd drink it again anytime...

[Thanks to mntlover for sending me this Asheville gem]

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

Had this on-tap at the Olde Hickory Taproom last night. It came out to me with a average sized head. It was a nice red tone. It had a good aroma as well. The taste was very close to Killian's. The drinkability was good as well. I could have drank several more. I would order another one of these in the future.

Photo of swid
4.07/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first beer from North Carolina, my first beer trade, and my first "Irish" red...thanks NClifestyle for the bottle!

Gaelic Ale pours into my pint glass a light amber color; it is slightly opaque. A 1/4" head forms and quickly dissipates. Moderate carbonation, little lacing. The aroma of this beer is very inviting – caramel and citrus mixed in with a pleasant mild sourness, with no particular smell dominant. Nicely balanced.

The taste of this beer can be described (in short form) as "Fat Tire, except sweeter"; however, this is an injustice to its balance of interesting flavors. The initial taste is sweet, with distinct caramel and slightly roasted notes; after a little bit, the distinctly citrus (but not overpowering) taste of the hops kicks in. The mouthfeel is fairly light, somewhat tart, and mildly dry. Finishes crisp and dry, with more tartness than sweetness.

This is a great example of taking a style and adding something just different enough to get your attention (the sourness) yet complimenting the other expected flavors quite nicely. All in all, a very tasty beer, and more than sum of its parts.

Photo of sabrills70
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a brilliant medium amber with a 1 finger head and good lacing. Aroma of an earthy malt with good caramel notes. Slight citrusy hop aroma. A nice earthy caramel malt with citrus and pine flavors. More hoppy than other Irish reds I have had. A nice example of the style. Try some if you get a chance.

Photo of rousee
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber as you would guess with a name of Gaelic ale. An Irish red style--ok fits that description to a tee. There is a nice 1 finger thick head. No lace. Smell is malt with some sourness too. Very straightforward malty taste with a woody character. There is some chalkiness too. Mouthfeel seemed thin at first but after a few sips seems to improve. Not exactly a style I am particularly into, but it is a fine example of what an Irish red should be. Ok for drinkability. I dont think I would want more than 1 or 2.

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

bottles bought at harris teeter in charlotte

appearance: see through amber, foamy head with decent lacing

smell: very malty, caramel, typical earthy highland scents, slight hoppiness in the nose as well

taste: very earthy, nice caramel, quite malty, subtle citrus/pine hops. This is one of the better irish red's out there...I have been enjoying this one for 3 or 4 years now

mouthfeel: medium, crisp, smooth balanced carbonation

drinkability: very sessionable

Highland is definately my favorite NC brewery, and this brew puts some nice NC mountain twists on the irish red category. I dig it

Photo of finepaws
3.43/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a copper penny color with orange hues. Light foamy tan head with good lacing. Has a sweet malty smell, with a slight fruit back ground. Tastes are malty, bread flavors, with some spicey fruit background, raisins? Has a nice floral hop flavor. Smooth, slick mouthfeel. Somewhat watery, and thin. Would like to see more body to this beer. It's a good session beer to drink among friends.

Photo of MuddyFeet
3.46/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a bold and vibrant burnt copper color with a filmy head and lots of spotty lace. Nose is kind of malty and not much else. Flavor is surprisingly complex, but muted. I got some taosted grains, biscuits, and dark chocolate. Hops are very mild and are mot noticeable in the finish where they provide a slight bitter kick. Mouthfeel is thin and watery--not much to hold this beer together. Great brew to share among friends.

Photo of ppoitras
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from GCBrewingCo as part of BIF 20. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" tan head above the dark orangey amber brew. Head shrinks but still leaves something at the party, with average to good lacing. Aroma is sweet grains, with some fruitiness. Taste is dominated by the maltiness, with some light hops and fruit coming in at the end. Mouthfeel is great with all the malt smoothness, and drinkability is on the same page. Could be a regular drinker if it was local to me.

Photo of gimmehead
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Translucent red amber with a soft white two finger head. Smells of sweet biscuity malts with just a litlle spicy and citric hop aroma and some subtle fruity esters. Much more citric hop flavor than aroma. Citrusy hops are the first and last flavor, with soft bready malts in between, not sweet, but very biscuity. A bit of alcohol in the finish, especially as it warms. Mouthfeel is soft and doughy with very little carbonation. This beer is extremely well balanced and highly drinkable. I wish I had more to make it a session. Thanks to mntlover for this fine brew.

Photo of mentor
3.91/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle provided by GCBrewingCo, thanks for the opportunity! Pours a single finger tan head over a nearly clear red/rust orange liquid. Smells rich caramel sweet, toasted grains, and a tang that I think is citrusy hops, but it also comes across as kinda pine sol-ish. A hint of chocolate and some bready biscuit. Tastes caramel and toasted grains with mild hop bitter and an interesting citrus hop flavor. The hops have some grassy character, but also a piney flavor, too. Chocolate begins to rise late and persists as the primary flavor in the aftertaste. The finish is baker's chocolate dry. Medium easy downing mouthfeel with moderate carbonation.

Photo of charlesw
4.27/5  rDev +12.1%
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...

Photo of tavernjef
3.91/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Copper pumpkin color. Carbonation is steady. A smooth, firm, evenly placed, dark beige cap of medium stoutness is roofing it. Great retention too. Keeps a generous whipped foamy coating the entire glass through. Sporatic sticky thickly set lacing in flimsy sheeting.

Pleasantly clean but fairly subdued aroma of earthy woody hops with a brisk under sweeping of husky toasty malts. Very light fruity hints emerge as it warms.

Nice little taster here. Toasty with a rounded out fruity nudge of malts. Mild hoppy finish with leafy earthen hop tea noting off into a fluffy spicy drying aspect and gradual fade into a return of red apple skin fruityness. Extremely light citrus

Crisp and bold medium feel with a smooth carbonation and flow. Good subtle flavors, tones, and dryness makes for some fine drinkin'. A pretty solid red ale, which are few and far betwwen.

Highland Gaelic Ale from Highland Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 1,301 ratings.