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Highland Gaelic Ale - Highland Brewing

Not Rated.
Highland Gaelic AleHighland Gaelic Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

520 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 520
Hads: 1,353
Avg: 3.81
pDev: 19.16%
Wants: 32
Gots: 221 | 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: 520 | Hads: 1,353
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 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]

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.

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Photo of NClifestyle
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

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Photo of ybnorml
2.74/5  rDev -28.1%
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.

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Photo of Dithyramb
4.3/5  rDev +12.9%
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.

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Photo of silver0rlead
3.66/5  rDev -3.9%
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).

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4/5  rDev +5%
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!

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Photo of Viggo
4/5  rDev +5%
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.

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Photo of beerinator
3.53/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

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Photo of Stimack
3.97/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

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Photo of John1985
3.77/5  rDev -1%
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.

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Photo of blitz134
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of HappyHourHero
3.85/5  rDev +1%
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.

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Highland Gaelic Ale from Highland Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 520 ratings.