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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
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Reviews: 517 | Hads: 1,325
Photo of cnjohn19
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

the more and more i taste beers from this brewery, the more and more i like them...their beer will not overwhelm you at first, but give it time, and don't give up on highlands...if nothing else b/c asheville is a hidden treasure...

pours a gorgeous red-orange...hold it up to the light and it becomes a deep red...the head is lacking for the most part and simply retreats over time...

a sweet smell of caramel, dark hard candy, and a tad mandarin orange...i think...malts dominate the nose...very balanced taste (almost too balanced for everything going on here)...a calm taste, malts def. shine through, with a slite piney hops aftertaste...very sweet, more than i was expecting, and i like it...the aftertaste takes a while to get used to, but once you do you grow to enjoy it...

at first the beer is very balanced, but upon swallowing it sharpens and becomes slightly bitter...i imagine the hops are coming through now...easy to enjoy several of these beers in the fall seasons...

the bottle reads: "a deep american amber colored 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."...overall, i think they nailed it...cheers to highland for this one.... (1,295 characters)

Photo of JohnL9013
3.73/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

I took a huge risk at the store and picked up a 6-pack of this stuff since I wanted something heavier to go with my Sam's Summer Ale. Well, I'm darn impressed!

A: Pours a deep amber into my pilsner. Really great color, and very good lacing.

S: The malt really hits you at first. Honestly, it has as strong a malt smell as some Bocks that I've tried, but it doesn't carry over to the taste. There's also some really great hops going on here. These guys know what they're doing.

T: The taste has a lot of really great hop flavor going on, in fact, it tastes more of hops than of malt, but it's just really, really well-balanced overall. I took my first sip and said, "Damn good!" because I didn't expect what came out of this bottle.

M: My main complaint would be that this stuff's a little overcarbonated.

D: Very light stuff. You could easily make a session of it.

Overall, I'm highly impressed with this beer. Most beers I try that have such fancy packaging suck. I'll definitely look for it in the future, and I'll definitely have to go back to the store to try their IPA that was sitting next to this stuff. (1,116 characters)

Photo of JohnnyI
3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

With a bearded bag-pipe player set against the mountainous backdrop of Asheville NC gracing the label, how can this lose? Filled on 10/7/14. The beer pours with a bright amber clarity, and a rocky manilla head. 2 fingers of foam recede, leaving lavish lacing on the glass. The nose is dominated by biscuity malts. Tart cider-like notes and piney hops battle for second fiddle. The flavor delivers caramel sweetness, and a buttery toffee that reminds me of an English ale. However, the tangy hop bite quickly takes over, washing away the malts and leaving only nice toasted grain in the finish. The mouthfeel is a tad watery, with tame carbonation, though it doesn't detract from the experience. This brew achieves a very respectable balance. A classic American Amber, true to the style. Nothing earth shattering, but a delightful and well-crafted treat from the Tarheel State. (878 characters)

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

had this bier from a 12-oz bottle.

A: Pour a beautiful amber color that is a shade darker than a fest bier and not quite as dark as a stout. Nice head that lasts a good amount of time; good lacing.
S: unassuming, caramel smell that is not overpowering at all. Maybe they don't want to take away from the taste.
T: Malty, caramelish with good carbonation. Not as crisp as I thought or would like, but not bad. No after taste, a little watery.
M: When you combine no bad odor with a creamy caramel taste, it is good.
D: I could have a couple of these, but that is all.

Overall, a good bier but not a great one. I do recommend it; do yourself a favor and try this bier. Prosit! (681 characters)

Photo of bobbyc881
4.48/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

An aggressive pour leaves a thick, tan head over a deep orange-red beer. Clear. Aroma is sweet breads and malts, caramels, and a slight citrusy hop presence.

Taste begins sweet and smooth. Caramelized malts dominate. Very balanced hop flavors follow shortly after. Leaves the palette sticky. Again, extremely smooth. Malt focused, but enough hops to not overwhelm.

Great body. Thick mouthfeel compared to most reds/ambers -- which seems to play better with the malt-centered flavors. Carbonated well. Highly drinkable beer. Certainly one of my go-tos. One of the best locals around. (584 characters)

Photo of Conrad
3.45/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Lovely colour to this one. A rich copper/gold with a thin off-white head that settled quickly and left a medium lacing.
Smell was hard to pick up on at first. I had to bury my nose in the glass to identify them. But then I discovered a nice balance of toasty malt and floral hops. Maybe a bit of citrus or pine.
Taste was the winner. An amazing balance between malts and hops. A very well built beer. The taste is just plain good beer. No pretentions of grandeur. You don't have to wax poetic on the comples flavours because there ain't none.
Body is medium, with a clean dry finish. Very nice on the palate. the bitters don't remain long, which encourages going back for another slurp.
Drinkability is my favourite category. This one wins hands down. It goes down smooth and easy. This is a good session beer. Maybe a six pack with a platter of junk food in front of the TV to watch the game of your choice. (913 characters)

Photo of cbleary
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed out of a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

This is Highland's flagship ale and in my opinion their best. It poured with a pretty deep amber hue and a big appetizing head. The smell was very good, a great mix of bready malts and hops. The taste retains the breadiness of the smell with a good measure of Cascade and Willamette hops keeping it in check. I find this style to be tempermental and easy to mess up, but Highland has a brew to be proud of. (455 characters)

Photo of finepaws
3.43/5  rDev -10.2%
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. (391 characters)

Photo of rmolledo
3.17/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a Dark Amber Red with quick fading head.

S: Peatey. Malt. Caramel. Slight fruity aroma.

T: Alot more mellow than the smell suggests. Malty. Peaty After taste. Sweet Finish.

MF: Lightly carbonated. Thick mouth feel.

D: A rather uneventful scottish style ale (regardless of what the bottle says, this tastes like an american style scottish ale). Nothing to write home about. (386 characters)

Photo of philipt
3.82/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dare I say the best NC craft brewery? I'm not going to say that, but Highland does offer some "write home to mom" styles, and the Gaelic Ale is among those.

The Gaelic Ale is a deep copper in color with an average sized head. Nothing particularly impressive to view. I find that hops are the dominant quality of the aroma. Quite piney and citrusy to smell. Taste is initially of malt then quickly followed by intense hop presence. Very IPA-ish and definitely contrary to the sweet, malty Scottish style I expected (being named Gaelic and all). Do not interpret as disappointed, but rather surpried. I like hops. It has a sweet and spicey flavor, followed quickly by the pine-like hop characteristics. (703 characters)

Photo of scvance
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a deep, amber red color. Crystal clear, with a good half inch of very fluffy and creamy foam. Smell is malty sweet, with caramel and oak notes. Very slight hop aroma. Taste is well balanced, with a malty beginning fading to a nice lingering hop bitter finish. Medium body and carbonation, makes this beer very easy to drink. Smooth, and fairly thin mouthfeel. This is a good beer overall, however, Highland has several others that I prefer and will be sticking to over this one. (525 characters)

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

Poured an orange to amber color with 1 finger off white head.

Smells of malty sweetness with slight floral/peppery hop aroma.

Malt sweetness in the taste balanced well with the hops. Nicely balanced.

Smooth, medium mouthfeel with good carbonation.

Overall a solid Amber Ale with a solid malt backbone. This one goes down easy. (330 characters)

Photo of Crimsonfloods
3.25/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pint glass

Nice amber/orange tinge on it. Creamy white head with a nice lacing.

Smells bold caramel and malt, almost an oaky sent in the background.

Taste is a fine balance between hops and malt, slight bitter.

Feels good, smooth relatively dry finish.

Pretty good overall, nothing too ground breaking. (308 characters)

Photo of Bosoxbennie
3.94/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I truly cannot make up my mind on ambers..One second I think I'm just done with them, and then I try one like this that changes my mind...very very solid brew (158 characters)

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

Poured from a bottle into a pint-sized pub glass.

Appearance: A deep copper color with a solid two-finger white head. Marvelous lacing.

Smell: A pleasant mix of floralness, caramel, and roasted malts.

Taste: There is a frontrunner of hoppiness that is somehow not bitter, immediately followed by a maltiness that I can only describe as tasting like roasted caramel. This maltiness is the defining characteristic of this beer, yet that floralness lingers always on the outskirts of the palate, providing a good balance.

Mouthfeel: Neither very carbonated nor flat. It leaves a good aftertaste.

Drinkability: This is a great session beer. Its sweetness is never cloying, and its alcohol content is low, so it's very easy to drink a lot of these. So drink up! (761 characters)

Photo of jman42
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Deep orange color with moderate head
Malty aroma typical of an amber
Nice taste but nothing stands out
Clean mouthfeel
Nothing outrageous stands out but I really like it. Could drink a bunch of these (199 characters)

Photo of jgurley
3.36/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a really nice deep clear amber with a thin head which leaves a little lace. Smell is slightly dry white grape, yeasty malt and a bit of hop. Taste is light, malty, dry, and a little hop bitterness on the finish. Slight chewed aspirin on the finish. Fairly thin mouthfeel with medium carbonation. Not bad, but not quite as big a beer as I prefer. I prefer their Oatmeal Porter, but I heard recently that they were gonna stop distribution here in Florida. Oh well.. (469 characters)

Photo of kcillini77
3.92/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my Sam Adams Boston Lager glass.

Thin head that doesn't stick around very long.

Smell is hoppier than I would have thought. Some sweet toffee-like malt is in there too.

Taste is toffee, caramel, and a little earthy flavor, followed by a little bit of bitter from the hops.

A well balanced beer.

Perhaps a little overcarbonated, but there's a lot to like here. (376 characters)

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

Average one to two finger head with a thick cloudy copper color with good lacing throughout. Only the slightest bitterness with a smooth malt taste. Very little carbonation. The mouthfeel is full and robust with just a hint of hops. A very enjoyable well balanced beer that gets better with every sip. (301 characters)

Photo of MrHolland
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
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. (463 characters)

Photo of branimal9
3.6/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared with my GF at Barley's Greenville 5/17/2010.

Reddish gold in color. Smells slightly malt-sweet with a kiss of hops. Toffee & floral hop bitterness in the taste. Finishes slighly dry. A nice, sessionable amber ale, and one of Highland's flagship beers. (266 characters)

Photo of marshmarsh
4.09/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

my first highland brew

a- mahogany with cream lacing

s - wood and yogurt? weird bt its what i smell

t - wood and hoppy
with a roasted creme bruoee aftertaste

m - moderately full

o - very complex with earthy roasted and perfect amount of hop notes (251 characters)

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

The Gaelic has been a favorite drinking beer of mine for a long time. It is my favorite brew from Highland in Asheville. It pours a deep golden color with a burgundy tint. The head is light and fluffy and the beer laces lightly on the glass. The smell is average and carries a solid blend of hops and malt. Drinkability is missing from the scale these days and I think that is one of the strengths of the Gaelic. It has a slightly bitter feel but a smooth malty finish. I think it is a solid go to beer for entertaining and for good afternoon hang. Delightful despite it not being an "A" beer. (593 characters)

Photo of JonMich13
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A = Nice deep amber, small whitish head and lite lacing.

S = Sweet smell of caramel malts, very lite notes of hops.

T = Delicious sweet caramel malt dominates the palate. There is some lite hop bitterness that tries to come about, but the balance is heavily in favor of the sweetness. A little better balance on the back end would do this one some good.

M = Nice medium to slightly thick mouthfeel.

D = This one is definitely an easy drinker. I could easily go 3 or 4 deep.

Solid brew from an underrated brewery. (518 characters)

Photo of shertz
3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from undated bottle into a Pint glass on a hot afternoon.

A- Two finger head, amber red in color. A few small bubbles run towards the top to join the foamy head.Nice lacing throughout.

S- Sugary malts. Some hops are around.

T- Very complex taste. Bready, oatmeal taste comes through at finish. Very malty, with floral hops fighting their way through. Very different, but good.

M- Oily start, numbing finish. Love that numbing finish!!

D- Average ABV leads to a nice possibility of drinking more than one which I would be more than glad to do. However, only have one. Will have to get a sixer next time I'm in the Outer Banks for the beach. Good stuff from good brewer. (691 characters)

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