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Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

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 tavernjef
3.91/5  rDev +2.4%
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. (869 characters)

Photo of NClifestyle
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Highland brewery has taken off over the last few years (at least here in NC), due to the quality beer they have produced, classics and seasonals alike. I recommend all of highland’s offerings, but their standard is the Gaelic ale. The brewery calls Gaelic an amber American ale, but BA says red Irish ale.
Gaelic ale is a smooth combination of hoppy bite and malt smoothness. Actually, while the beer does have some hop taste, the malt levels it out, giving you bitter tastes on the front of your tongue, with sweet hints at the back, flavors of caramel, and possibly apple and cinnamon arise. An easy drinking beer, Gaelic has a beautiful dark amber and ruby color. A nice tan head appears to start, but quickly dissipates, as the beer is not an overly carbonated affair. I always have a 6-pack of Highland’s Gaelic ale in my fridge. It’s a great beer for any occasion.
Cheers... (886 characters)

Photo of ybnorml
2.74/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A clean cooper/amber beer. Has a small creamy off white head with some lace. The aroma was a bit of sweet malt with a caramel note. There was a salty seaweed aroma in the back ground. The flavor starts with a bit of sweet malt with a hint of smoke in the background. The finish has a quick promise of hops and then its gone. The label says " a wee bit different". That difference did not capture me. (399 characters)

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

Sampled multiple times on tap in Wilmington. Served in your standard pint glass.

Poured a clear, brownish dark amber with a fluffy off white head. Nice retention and lacing.

The aroma is mostly roasted malts, but there is some citrus and floral hops tossed in as well.

A great tasting beer. Not too malty, but not too hoppy. This beer really rides a fine line, and does so excellently. An initial rush of malt gets toned down nicely with the hop background. Goes down crisp and smooth.

A very nice session brew, worth having several. (547 characters)

Photo of silver0rlead
3.66/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Really a spectacular looking beer, deep amber/mahogany color with a thick beige head that retains well and leaves nice lacing. Smell is sweet caramel malt with a fruity background, maybe strawberries or cherries. Taste really doesn't live up to the smell, this really isnt that complex of a brew but it is tasty nonetheless i was just expecting a bit more frankly. Taste is your basic irish red with a very slim hops profile that isnt very noticeable. Begins with a sweet caramel/molasses flavor and a light fruitiness that resembles strawberries and a barely noticeable piney hops flavor that is very much in the background. I think this beer could be really good if they upped the hops a little as it would balance the brew out alot more. The mouthfeel is appropriately creamy and smooth with somewhat low carbonation. The drinkability is pretty good, and this could be a session brew but there are alot better irish red's out there (really King David's Red by edenton is a much better choice). (996 characters)

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - deep orange amber, thin and cream colored soapy head.

Aroma - light caramel malt and a whiff of spiciness and raisin. Fades to a light caramel nose, a little too light. Some cinnamon and spice become more prominent as it warms but it takes a while.

Taste - roasty and sweet caramel malts and spice, like warm cinnamon bread. Great balance with hops, just a little bitter character there, I'm guessing the Willamettes tone things down a notch. Finish is malty and sweet.

Mouthfeel - slightly thick, deliciously smooth feel.

Drinkability - a tasty and hearty beer, a great meal companion. Thanks to merlin48 for this one, too! (649 characters)

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

Pours a clear red/amber colour, low head, no lace that I can detect. Smells of sweet malts, apples, little bit of hop aroma near the end. The taste is kind of sweet and malty, with a solid hoppy bitter finish. A nice tasting ale, very smooth and easy going, I would definately try this one again. Thanks DrJay. (310 characters)

Photo of beerinator
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Reddish brown clear with ruby highlights. Nice tan head with lacy retention.

Aroma: Malty sweetness. There are notes of fruit and maybe a touch of maple syrup.

Tastes: This beer is very malty. There is not very much bitterness in this beer. The sweetness carries through the taste. The finish is a slight bit dry with touches of bitterness but overall the malty slight nutty flavor carries across the tongue.

Notes: Good body. Solid beer but not too outrageous or anything. Just very drinkable. (515 characters)

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

This brew pours to a red/amber color with a fair sized head that broke down quite quickly leaving very faint lacing along the side of the glass. The aroma seems to be mostly of malt that has a toasted and sweet smell. Can notice slight hop scent but it has a hard time breaking past the malt. The taste is heavy on the malt that leaves a somewhat sweet taste in your mouth, while seemingly having an ever so slight hop taste. This is a nice brew, one I would get again. (469 characters)

Photo of John1985
3.77/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Red amber color iwth a quickly dissipating head. Fresh hoppy aroma, inital flavor had a brisk balanced flavor up front that gave way to a sweet malty flavor. Aftertaste was brief. This ale goes down smooth but is not very exciting. It was available at every restaurant I visited in Asheville NC. For flavor I would opt for the St. Therese Ale. (343 characters)

Photo of blitz134
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very nice dark golden orange/copper color with a small light tan head which reduced to the thinnest of bubble layers. Aroma is very balanced with hops and malts. The hops are mainly grapefruit and fruity in nature. This is well balanced with a sweet malty smell. There is also a slight caramel aroma. Taste is mainly hop oriented consisting of pine hops which lead to a nice bitter finish. Similar to the aroma there is a nice balance to this which makes it really drinkable. Overall the flavor is light and refreshing. Coats the mouth well and is relatively full bodied for a red ale. This is a good beer overall and is quite quaffable. I can see myself enjoying this easy drinker on a warm summer day…definitely worth a try. (729 characters)

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

Solid oatmeal colored head. Transparent dark amber colored beer. Mildly sweet biscuit malt aroma. Soft mouthfeel on this moderately thick bodied beer. Biscuit malt carries over into the flavor, which is barely sweet and mixes in nicely with some caramel malt. A nice drinkable beer, lots of malt in there, easy drinking. (320 characters)

Photo of Shiloh
2.99/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Not a very pretty brew at all. A very deep amber hue and a little murky. Carbonation is medium/light and the body is full.
The nose has a bittersweet sence to it but shortlived and little else.
No crown to speak of, little lace and thin ring.
The taste starts to the malts and lingers until the hops kick in.
The malt presence is a burnt caramel like thing.
The hops don't seem to play well with the malts, but worth a try. (428 characters)

Photo of BrewMaster
3.92/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours and clear orangish tan color with a fluffy white head on top. This beer has very nice color but very poor head retention.

Smell: The aroma is sweet and malty with notes of tangerine and spices.

Taste: This beer has a bery nice and complex flavor. There is a crisp and raw maltiness that dominates. The malt brings a slight bready and grainy flavor. There are notes of raosted caramel and can alcohol flavors that is not warming. It also slightly sandy sweet and milky. Despite what it says on the label there was really no hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: It's a bit sharp on the palate and slightly watery as well giving it a light body.

Drinkability: Tasty and I would definately recommend it. (719 characters)

Photo of DrJay
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: This one poured a dark amber with good clarity, topped by a thin off-white head. My associate and I became certain that there was a very slight greenish colour to the head, but I didn't feel completely certain. I guess it could have been the lighting. Head retention was decent and was assisted by the constant formation of CO2 bubbles.

Smell: An excellent balance of sweet maltiness and citrus/floral hop character.

Taste: This one was balanced towards bitterness, but still had a good malt base with some nice sweetness provided by crystal malts. The hop flavour was mostly citrus with a little floral and grassy character as well. It also had a very pleasant, long, mildly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Good smoothness of body, but the carbonation was a little strong.

Drinkability: Another success from Highland Brewing. Too bad I need to find a new source for these samples...

12 oz. brown bottle with no freshness date or abv listed. (962 characters)

Photo of yankeeheel
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice dark crimson with a smallish eggshell head. Nice lacing, little retention. Smells hoppy and a little bit like fig. I'm miffed on the fig but it smells good. Nice hop to malt balance here with the fruity malt coming out slightly ahead. Grassy in it's texture and body. Nice little citrus hop burn in the finish. Solid, yet different amber. (351 characters)

Photo of Globetrotter
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Standard 12 oz bottle that looks just like the picture. Very little label info, other than identifying the type of hops used (Cascade adn Williamette). I kind of like the bagpipe player holding the big mug of beer with the Scottish (or are they the Smokies?) mountains in the background.

Pours a slightly hazy copper with interesting internal strands under a two finger beige head that is creamy smooth and slow to fade. Very nice lace on the glass. Good strong English hops aroma, crisp and clean. Well carbonated and substantially bodied mouth that is a bit sticky. Good barley malt opening with a touch of caramel. Nice crisp hoppy bite accompanies. Mild bitter aftertaste. This is a very good rendition of a British ale. (727 characters)

Photo of Backer2004
3.71/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One of my favorite North Carolina beers that I first tried in the mountains and was glad when I saw it available in Charlotte. A very drinkable amber that can be enjoyed all evening. Floral scent with flavor to match, not too hoppy. Great Irish Red. Nice frothy head and lacing around the glass . . . would like to see it in the stores as well. (344 characters)

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.72/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a full, light brown head that sits atop a clear deep amber-ruby beer. The aroma is sticky with malt notes and a hint of herbal, grassy hops as well. The aroma is quite intoxicating, with its sweet caramel malt notes. The taste is malty as well, though it is not as sweet as the aroma suggests, and it has lots of toasted malt notes. This is almost quite dry in its maltiness, perhaps there is a hint of smokiness as well. The finish is quite drying with its mix of toasted, cracker, roasted, and smoke malt flavors. This is a solid enjoyable beer. (558 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 Boilermaker88
3.55/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presented in a 12oz bottle like the one depicted. Served in a standard pint glass, it had a clear dark amber color, large random clots of carbonation, and a modest vanilla colored head that slowly imploded to leave a ring and light wispy lace.
The nose had a hearty caramel malt aroma, a touch of peat and a counter-march of herbal and sprucy hops notes. The toasted malt flavor lead things off, chased with a drizzling of toffee for a sweet start. Then a faint peaty smoke flavor came across. The finish had a building spruce-infused bitterness that clung to the tongue. The feel was medium-bodied, smooth, and a bit syrupy.
Overall, I had a bit of a tough time with this offering from Highland Brewing. I guess I've had other amber ales where the flavors have meshed better. Still, this isn't bad; just nothing all that exciting. (833 characters)

Photo of merlin48
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, copper/red body with a small, but lasting, beige head. Scattered lace patches the glass. The color is almost radiant in appearance, very attractive.

Aroma is very malty, with lots of toffee and caramel on the nose. Herbal hops and a definite note of spruce provide a delicate balance to the bouquet.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a slight syrupy character.

Thicker on the palate than I initially thought, with a bigtime maltiness highlighted by toffee and caramel. Plenty of herbal hops bitterness, with spruce pine in the forefront. A note of smoked charcoal appears out of nowhere, and adds additional complexity.

This is a very tasty, nicely balanced Scots/Irish style red ale that I'm becoming quite fond of. Very well balanced. (762 characters)

Photo of Bierguy5
3.42/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From the bottle poured a deep reddish/copper color with a white foamy head. The head disappeared rather quickly. There was a fair amount of lace present in the glass, as was a great amount of tiny bubbles making the way to the top of the glass. The smells was toasted, almost to the roasted point, along with a slightly woody smell. Nice caramel flavor in the malt, with a modest amount of hop bitterness, but still balanced. Nice dry finish. Seemed a bit too carbonated, but I would say it was a pretty decent brew. I would not pass this one up if offered. (557 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 coasterfreak75
3.71/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I am quickly becoming a fan of Highland Brewing Company. I just had two of their other beers at Barley's Taproom and Pizzaria in Knoxville, Tennessee. I picked up a six pack of this on the way home. This offering did not let me down.

The pour was a dark amber/copper with a good half inch head that quickly dissapated into a dark lace around the top of the glass.

The smell was very spicy with a light floral overtone.

The taste started with a sweet malt kick, medium hops in the middle and a clean, sweet finish. The smell was misleading as to what the taste was going to be. When I first smelled it I thought it was going to be a hop head's dream, but I was wrong. The hops are noticeable, but not overpowering. Plus they don't linger around after the drink.

All and all a very drinkable and refreshing beer that would go well as a session beer or with dinner. (874 characters)

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