Highland Gaelic Ale | Highland Brewing

Highland Gaelic AleHighland Gaelic Ale
1,477 Ratings
Highland Gaelic AleHighland Gaelic Ale

Brewed by:
Highland Brewing
North Carolina, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
A deep amber colored American 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.

Hops: Chinook, Willamette and Cascade

32 IBU

Added by stirgy on 01-11-2002

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,477 |  Reviews: 538
Photo of branimal9
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%
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 PEBKAC
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Hard drive data scraping is well worth the money, let me tell you. Priceless family photos, rebates & receipts, insurance forms, music, nah... kb after kb of old beer reviews. That's what it's all about. :D

Thanks to bboven, whether these beers sit well with me or not.

Rounded pint glass. Unusual, lop-sided, dough-colored milky head. Uniform lacing over a dirty amber, chill-hazed, iced tea-like body.

Caramel & spicy/tangy orange hop notes. A little dry bread crust & heavier then expected alcohol.

Taste isn't as big as the nose suggests. Slightly resinous/rindy hops, honestly in balance with the doughy malty. A lingering spicy citrus sizzles along with the enthusiastic carbonation. Astringency is at a minimum.


 730 characters

Photo of ColdOneKev
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clean copper color with a light tan head. In the aroma, sweet maltiness and balanced with a small hop. In the taste, a dryer malt, and almost a bit peet like. A smooth and medium mouthfeel, with a dry maltiness in the aftertaste. A ballsy ale, feels big, a nice flavor for a ale.

 287 characters

Photo of KMitch
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of Hopswagger
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

P: Clear amber brewed tea appearance with minimal khaki head. A foamy halo rest on top leaving the occasional leg of lace behind.

S: Toasted italian herb and cheese Subway bread, toasted caramel and orange juice and bitter orange peel.

T/M: Toasted caramel, bready malt, orange peel and spicy pippali pepper. Finishes dry with lemon zest and toast. Prickly moderate body. Once the beer warns it starts to have a metallic aftertaste to it. It's not bad but does throw it off a bit.

O: Well balance and simple. An easy drinking ale to throw back after a long day of work. The spicy kick at the end really makes this. Without it I think it would be dull.

 657 characters

Photo of Wingnut93
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of BuzzLitebier
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer had a nice dark red/caramel color and malty nose, but it surprisingly didn't have the taste to back it up. It was also on the thin side for me. It wasn't what I expected based on what I had heard about it, but it would still make a nice session beer nonetheless.

 272 characters

Photo of denver10
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%

Pours amber with a nice off white head. Aroma is caramel and toasty, grapefruit, a little floral, and pine. Flavor follows suit with a nice balance between malt and hops. Smooth and sessionable, especially for an amber ale. A crisp, active mouthfeel. Overall, my into to Highland and I am very pleased seems to veer the line between what I consider an amber and red (in a good way). Will have to check out some of their other stuff, especially their oatmeal porter.

 465 characters

Photo of RBCBrams17
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of Wo1fpacker
3.61/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Agold
3.61/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a nice caramel color with a short white head that recedes to a bit more than a film. Leaves a bit of lacing, but not much. Very nice looking. Aroma is nice, biscuit, a bit of caramel, and some floral hops. Flavor is a bit nutty, mildly bitter, nice earthy, floral hops, very mild cocoa, but nothing outstanding. Good beer though. Mouthfeel is light with good carbonation, could be a bit fuller, but not complaining. Overall, nice beer. Really easy drinking and refreshing.

 487 characters

Photo of marvin213
3.62/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

It's darker than I'd expect from a red--more brown than amber. A 1" head thins out to a still creamy-looking foam top. Lacing is impressive, but ultimately I'm put off by what I think is too dark a red, amber beer.

The smell is good and malty--guess that's why it's so dark, huh? I also smell the hops. Although I've been improving on my hop-type distinctions, I admit I can't distinguish Cascade from Willamette. I do acknowledge a complexity with the hop/malt balance.

It's a good beer. As I rate each of the characteristics here, I'm continually surprised by the maltiness of this beverage. I'm more familiar with Cascade hops...perhaps Willamette are significantly more subtle? Or maybe this beer just has a lot of malts. That makes it taste good, but I can't help but feel that this much malt is inappropriate for a red, amber ale. Are malts what make reds red? Maybe that's why the beer's so brown. Regardless, the beer basically tastes good--though in a complex way:)

Not a whole lot to the mouthfeel. Again the malts dominate and leave a sort of chocolatey taste on the palate, but I still feel that that's not what I'm supposed to get from a red ale. This beer is much different than other ambers--not that it's much better or much worse--it's like it's mislabeled. Still, it's not a stout. Maybe it's more like a dopplebock. Though I'm not sure what exactly it is in terms of style, it tastes good and the mouthfeel is better-than-average.

Drinkability is below average because the malts make this a relatively heavy amber ale. Not that I expect to drink reds on a hot summer day, but I don't expect reds to conjure up images of Willy Wonka. A good beer, but one of the first I've come across about which I've questioned the style.

 1,745 characters

Photo of KTCamm
3.62/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours reddish amber, light white dollops of foam on top. Touches of lacing. Malty sweet. Caramel nose. Taste is the same, nicely balanced malt. Very light hop. Some residual bitterness. Some peat-iness too. Evenly carbomated.

Good beer.

 284 characters

Photo of BeerMeColorado
3.62/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of rangerred
3.62/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap.

Arrived a clear medium ruby with a thin layer of foam.

Smell was caramel malt with some hoppyness present. Also seemed to be a slight yeasty quality.

Taste was quite malty up front with caramel being a predominate flavor. A moderate hoppy bitterness soon took over and lasted through the finish.

A decent beer from highland but not really my favorite.

 368 characters

Photo of JohnQVegas
3.62/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into Sam Adams sensory glass.

Pours a nice true amber color, shades of copper, with a thin, one-finger cream-colored head on top, settling quickly into a soapy cap.

Nose is light, toasted caramel and a light dose of citrus hops underneath. Lightly fruity. Fairly restrained.

Taste is mellow - lightly toasty with a kiss of caramel, healthy tingle of slightly dank grapefruit. Finish is fruity, light bitterness, delicately balanced and eminently drinkable.

Mouthfeel is very middle of the road - medium in body, light in carbonation, moderately long finish.

Nice beer - balanced for pretty much any season, tasty and well made.

 644 characters

Photo of bbeane
3.62/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured into an oversized snifter... starts with a weak head that is gone in no time. Beer is a nice reddish amber color with some mild activity

S- Has a nice malty aroma, caramel, toffee, and some mild hoppy notes coming through

T- Caramel, toffee, slightly bready with some hinting hop flavor coming through. All the flavor ends kind of abruptly though. Where your hoping there a bit of bite in the finish, it just ends

M- Light carbonation, little slick... medium body

O- I'm starting to think it's hard to not make a decent amber ale. Almost every one that I've ever tasted had nice flavor and was a relatively worthwhile session beer... as is this one


 672 characters

Photo of Arborescence
3.63/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Darkish amber. Pours a medium head of medium thickness, creamy.

Aroma: Malty sweetness, nutty, quite mild.

Taste: Quite bitter, but in a good way. Some lingering hops in the aftertaste. Not a terrible amount of depth, but quite decent; a working mix of malt and hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, some carbonation

Overall: Fairly robust beer, and certainly quite drinkable. Not a bad choice for a starter beer of the evening, or just a good solid beer to have in the fridge.

 487 characters

Photo of gopens44
3.63/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Coppery brown, about a 2" initial head that relaxed to about 1/2" or less throughout the rest of the beer. Good color though.

S - Pretty simple with a nice hoppy aroma

T - Again, nice hop taste with a hint of caramel.

M - Pretty basic, good carbonation and presence.

I like this one as n every day drinker. Not too adventurous, but good to drink with a lot of the food that I cook. I'll be keeping at least a few of these in the fridge at all times.

 458 characters

Photo of klewis
3.63/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear red with a moderate, frothy head. Moderate lacing.

S: Not much smell, but that which is there is nice. Light fruity malt aromas with a touch of hops.

T: Light in flavor and nicely balanced. Malty and semi-sweet with a touch of hop bitterness in the finish.

M: Very light-bodied with light-moderate carbonation. The taste is fleet on the palate and finishes clean.

D: Not bursting with flavor, yet this would is nicely done and would make an ideal session beer.

 481 characters

Photo of SLeffler27
3.63/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A three-inch, gold tinted head is frothy as it slowly turns to pancake batter consistency while dropping spotty lace on a fisheye pint glass. Ample carbonation clings to the glass beneath a clear, copper brown beer.

The aroma is biscuity with malt, toffee, tea, and a dash of lime in the background.

This is well balanced with a malt backbone and some brown sugar. Whole wheat bread with light hop flavors and light hop bitterness are followed by toasted grains, some nuts and a modest, lingering finish.

The watery texture and medium body contain modest carbonation and no sense of alcohol, with a light astringency in the finish.

This is a good everyday beer, perhaps best with a sandwish. I suggest roast beef on rye.

 724 characters

Photo of hoptualBrew
3.64/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into pint glass. I poured agressive & didnt get too much head on it. Pours a murky dark amber, very murky & opaque even when held to light. Off white/tan head leaves moderate lacing down the glass.

Bready caramel malts in the nose along with mild piney hop presence.

Taste is a mismatch, still bready but dominated by nutty flavors. Caramel malts & breadiness up front, transitions into an orgy of nutty flavors & finally washes back with mildly drying earthy floral hop bitterness.

Body is medium here (5/10) with a nice complimental drying finish.

Overall, one of the better Amber Ales I have had & very nice on the wallet @ $1.49/bottle or $8.49/6pak.

 678 characters

Photo of mullenite
3.64/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Glassware - Imperial Pint

Appearance - Dark amber/red in color, which makes sense. Nice two finger white head that leaves a lot of really great lacing on the glass.

Nose - Sweet caramel aroma, lots of caramel actually. Pretty sweet smelling. There is some biscuit in the background but I'm not picking up any sort of hop aroma.

Taste - Tastes very similar to the smell, lots of sweet caramel and some biscuit in the background and a slight bit of alcohol in the finish. Again there are no discernible hops in the taste. Kind of a bad thing, I like my ambers a little bit hoppy at least. The beer tastes good none the less. (On subsequent sips I started to pick up some chocolate?)

Mouthfeel - Nice medium body with decent carbonation. Has a surprisingly dry finish for how sweet the beer is overall.

Overall - Pretty good, I'd buy it if I were out and saw it but I don't think I'd grab a six-pack of it. Even just a little bit of bitterness to counter that sweetness.

 972 characters

Photo of pagriley
3.64/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Highland Gaelic Ale from Highland Brewing
Beer rating: 3.81 out of 5 with 1,477 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.