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Highland Gaelic Ale | Highland Brewing

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
86
very good
532 Reviews
Highland Gaelic AleHighland Gaelic Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Highland Brewing
North Carolina, United States | website

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by pezoids on 01-11-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
532
Ratings:
1,430
Avg:
3.81
pDev:
19.42%
 
 
Wants:
39
Gots:
289
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 532 | Ratings: 1,430
Photo of brentk56
4.12/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy copper color with a fluffy egg shell colored head that leaves nice splotches of lace

Smell: Biscuity caramel malt aroma with some piney undertones

Taste: Lays down a nice biscuity caramel backbone which underlies some woody and earthy hop flavors, mid-palate; after the swallow, the sweet malt flavors re-assert themselves but the woody dryness keeps them in check

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: One of the best NC session brews out there; nice all around

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Photo of mattsdenney
4.12/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into NB globe glass.

A: Medium amber in color, slightly hazy, thick looking, light brown thin head.

S: Dried cherry, fig, bread, honey, and sweet malt.

T: Great tasting beer. Strong taste of dried fruit, bready malts, and a nice hop balance. The backbone reminds me of a belgian style ale but it mixes nicely with the american amber flavor.

M: Thin, light, medium carbonation. Feel doesn't linger for long.

O: This is an amber ale with substance. Great on flavor but not overbearing in weight or feel. Will definitely buy again when I'm craving this style.

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Photo of Apellonious
4.12/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz from six at the Teeter.

A- amber with orange highlights, solid but clear, pours with just a thin lace .

S - Sweet smell, some nut/malt and fruit, slight alcohol.

T - there is a mild fruit sweetness, some malt chewieness, some light brown ale suggestions, with some hops on the back end. Noting some vanilla. I am going to go out a limb and say Fat Tire was modeled after this beer.

M - great balance and carbonation, a tad watery.

O - this review is long overdue ( was reviewed on another beer review site a while back). This has been one of my "go to" beers for many years. Definitely recommended. An amber ale with some additional complexity while being highly drinkable.

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Photo of bennetj17
4.12/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep, coppery amber hue, light haze, faint wispy foam that barely forms a head. The carbonation is somewhat lively in tiny streams. Caramel malt nose with a hint of roast. The smell is also quite fruity, perhaps raisin and raspberry.

Starts out with a heavy maltiness and then starts to brighten up, becoming more fruity toward the back. In the finish the grassy hop balance becomes more apparent with a dry and lightly bitter touch. I like the doughy, cinnamon roll-like sweetness. It almost seems like this beer would have to be stronger (ABV) to accomodate this, but fortunately it's not - at least by American standards. Solid carbonation, with a light silkiness to give a somewhat fuller mouthfeel.

I'm quite intrigued by the Highland beers I've tried so far. They seem to have a flavor profile that doesn't immediately give what you'd expect for the style brewed. This results in something both unique and refreshing. The Gaelic Ale has a perfect balance of rich malts and zesty hop bitterness. The complexity of the malt is much more that you get from a typical amber ale. I found it highly drinkable. Recommended...

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Photo of Harvest06
4.12/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very food friendly, well rounded amber ale with slight sweetness, medium body and dry bitter finish. Its less hoppy than many west coast amber ales but more hoppy than many east coast red ales.

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Photo of StarlightSeraph
4.13/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep reddish-mahogany color, with a three finger pinkish-white head. Left scattered lacing, and 1/4 of an inch or so of the head lingered for the entire glass

Smell: A lot of things I wasn't expecting. Smells very sweet, with hints of gingerbread and cinnamon. Smells a LOT like a winter warmer as compared to a straight amber. I like it, though.

Taste: Wow. Sweet, bready - the gingerbread is very evident. Has a very crisp finish, but that gingerbread flavor lingers in the mouth for a long time. Only a slight hoppy bitterness in the aftertaste. Leaves you wanting more.

Mouthfeel: Medium-high carbonation. *Slightly* thinner then I would have liked, but that's nitpicking.

Drinkability: Despite the sweetness/unusual flavors, it's a very easy drinking beer. This would make an outstanding base for a winter warmer, and has more flavor than any amber/red I've had so far. Outstanding beer.

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Photo of droomyster
4.13/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a clear mahogany body with dense, craggy head of tan foam with excellent retention and lacing. Aromas are very rich in toasty malts, earth, ether, and autumnal leaves. Extremely flavorful in ways that remind me of some oktoberfests: very malty and big on the toasty notes. Sweet toffee up front, toast and browned biscuits on the midpalate, before giving way to almost tea and bitter walnut skin-like flavors on the finish. I like this a lot and plan to make a part of my fall lineup.

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Photo of jpro
4.13/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass... Pours a crystal clear, copper with a smallish head of light tan foam. A ring of sudsy retention leaves a few spots and specks of lace. Toasty aroma with some sweet malt hints and citrus-pithy hops. Taste is about as balanced as it gets... Bready, caramel malts countered by a leafy, citrusy hop finish. Feel is just right... Medium bodied with moderate carbonation... Finish is not too bitter or sweet. This is one of my all time favorite, go to, craft beers. So enjoyable.

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Photo of TastyAdventure
4.13/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

A - deep amber 1 finger head. Clear. Looks great

S- didn't send much time here but it's a great balance of malty and hop aromatics

T - big maltyness with mild caramel and smooth sweetness. Hops provide perfect balance, but more than just bittering balance. Williamette and cascade go great together. Flowers, spice, mild citrus. "Rounded"

M - it's a little watery, slick. Could be better, but makes it a nice session beer.

Session beer you say?? Yes! This is MY new favorite session beer. Grab me a six pack on the way to the party please!

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Photo of mynie
4.13/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark, spritely red. "Iridescent" is one of the most misused words in the English language, but I swear this appears to fluoresce. It's really a very lively shade of red. I like it.

Smells more like a traditional red. Maybe a bit lighter on the hops than some, but the malt profile is a nice toasted caramel.

Tastes like it smells. Toasted caramel malts up front, sweeter near the middle with medium nodes of biscuit and jam, moving into a lightly bitter hops near the end. Decent hops, good balance, but they play second fiddle to the malt. And that is fine by me.

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Photo of farrago
4.14/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

About a finger's worth of tan head, mostly larger bubbles which dissolve swiftly, the lacing broad but also slides down quickly. Full on amber red with enough brown to darken it into near opacity, more brighter orange around the rims. In the nose there's a lot of interplay between the caramel, molasses and the pine, herbaceous hops, orange peel, milk chocolate, brush of peach and apricot fruit, long presence in your nostrils. Full-bodied and broadly set, as in the nose it's impressive for its sheer stature and weight. As a result, it is a good thing the carbonation is very active. The molasses, brown sugar, caramel sweeter upon mouth entry, the overall finish is dry. Very leafy, almost twiggy, the pine and orange, lemon citrus elements drier than expected. Here you get a touch of softer, creamier bread dough with a few lactose accents. Easily drinkable while in no manner simple.

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Photo of Dudeletter
4.15/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first Amber love and southern addiction is the Highland Brewery. Their beer is from Asheville, NC and the locality promises the freshness of the sample. The beer is on the hoppy end of the spectrum, but the mellowness of a well crafted amber permeates through the hopped nature of the beer. The beer’s cascade hops add a citrus freshness to add punctuation to the malty caramel taste. The carbonation adds a baked bread, almost a toasted desert bread scent to the nose of this wonderful beer.

http://www.dudeletter.com/?p=1000

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.15/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A clear, reddish amber body is topped by a short but creamy head of off-white foam that holds quite well and maintains a thin lid throughout the glass, but leaves little more than some transient, spotty lace. Toasty and sweetish caramel malts and citrusy/earthy hops combine with a touch of yeasty fruitiness to lend a sweetened-fruit and malt character to the nose. The body is decidedly medium and it's very fine, natural carbonation from bottle-conditioning leaves it dextrinous, creamy, and smooth across the palate. The rich maltiness found in the nose returns in the flavor, but this time it's more toasty than "sweet" caramel, with a very subtle roasted edge and some low-level diacetyl. Its tempered with more earthy/mineral hop flavors than citrus; and a solid bitterness balances it quite nicely and leaves it rich and satisfying but still drinkable as the sweet malts are no longer able to become cloying. It can, however, build on the palate a bit with its fullness. Still, a splash of water, nip of cheese, or crust of bread can instantly take that down. Impressive!

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Photo of cbleary
4.15/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

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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 aaronh
4.15/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a hazy, orange copper color topped by a generous tan head. The head fades to a layer of film interspersed with pillows of foam. A sheeting lace is left on the glass. The aroma is strong roasted malt, with caramel and a touch of peat. A bit of fruit and fresh bread smells are also mixed in. Hops are not discernable. The taste is very appealing, with the strong raosted malt dominating, but with a decent smoked peat component. A hint of sweetness and carmelized sugar chimes in as well. A bit of bitterness lingers on the finish, but it is faint enough to make one wonder if it is hops or just bitterness from roasted malts. The aftertatse reveals a bit more of a pine note, verifying that there really is a low level hopping in this brew. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy, with mild carbonation accentuating the buttery feeling on the tongue. The drinkability is very good, and I wish I had more than one of these beers. It is an excellent brew that I will purchase again.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.17/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Fresh tasting (07/29/03): Fuller tan head, low carbonation, and sporadic lace. Hop aroma much more pronounced (light citrusy character). Hop flavor really comes through when fresh; balance leans hoppy vs. malty. Light bitter finish. Drink this puppy fresh!! very nice !
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(old) Bronze-ish amber with a low light brown head. Nice balanced malty, fruity, and hop aroma. Rich malt flavor with a nice hop balance. Medium bodied (leans full).

Would like to try this along side Bert Grant's Scottish Ale... similar, but Highland is probably not as hoppy hence I'd label this one as a Scottish Ale...

Per label: "Cascade and Willamette hops"
Per H.B.Co. website: IBU: 32, Hops: Chinook, Willamette and Cascade

"99" embossed on bottom of bottle
Tasted: 04/08/03

"03" embossed on bottom of bottle
Tasted: 07/29/03

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Photo of hobbes2112
4.17/5  rDev +9.4%
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!

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Photo of ThePopper
4.18/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Beautiful, dark copper color; nice foamy head.

S: Malt notes, with a whiff of pine.

T: An amber-style ale with nice caramel and malt notes, very subtle hops, and tones of vanilla and sassafras.

M: Rich and smooth.

O: A very drinkable, high-quality ale, with more malt complexity and full flavors than a pale ale. On par with the very best ambers – highly recommended.

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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.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.18/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A dulled scarlet red appearance. A good sized fluffy off white head forms on the surface. Retention is pretty good. After a few minutes, a nice little film is still present as well as a good sized collaring. Lace is quite bountiful. Nose is rich with caramel maltiness and laced with some PAC10 hop character as well as spiciness. Pretty good aroma. This seems like a hop lovers amber to me. It does have a nice firm crystal malt backing, but the hop tones are a bit exotic for an amber. I personally like them. They are citric and lemony....rind-like and piney. What an interesting take on the style. And this comes from an East Coast brewery. Excellent. Body is a little better than medium and the mouthfeel is appropriately carbonated.

Thanks for the unique amber AKSmPort

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Photo of jbone78
4.2/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have tasted several of Highland's beers and I think only one was about par. The rest were above.

A- Pours light brown/red with a bit of a haze. Nice lacing head.
S- Nice malty smell. I can not identify malt smells.
T- The thing with Scottish ales is the malty taste, but the malty taste is always unique.
This one has a flavor of malt that has a tiny hop character that fades and finishes with maltness. I like.
M- light malt mouthfeel that is not all sweet.
D- Being an American beer fan, I will buy again!

-Bye

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Photo of orfeu
4.2/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle provided by the almighty oberon, shipped to him fresh from North Carolina -- many thanks! Ever-so-slightly-hazy burnished copper with an effervescently noisy onionskin-hued head. Mild citric hop-tea scent (bergamot and bitter orange) with an earthiness atop some biscuity malt aromas. Doughy and toasty -- the before and the after of bread? -- malt flavors come to the fore at first, followed by some mellow lemon and bergamot flavors; leafy hop flavors through and through. Bit of biscuity taste at the back. Solid taste, for sure. Medium light body, eminently quaffable. I know Irish Red Ales are supposed to be easy-to-drink, but this one here just about defines sessionability. Very nice ale.

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Photo of cnjohn19
4.2/5  rDev +10.2%
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....

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Photo of beerdown77
4.2/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my favorite Highland beer by far. It is well balanced beer. Different than Kashmir and St. Theresa, it doesn't have a metallic taste. It is slightly darker than you would expect. It pours almost brown. In addition to the hops and malt, it has a little bit of what you would expect from a brown ale...maple?

It's packed with flavor, but not too heavy or chew-spitty. Simply put this beer exceeded my expectations and is a must try if you ever find yourself in Ashville, NC.

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Highland Gaelic Ale from Highland Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 532 ratings.
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