Highland Gaelic Ale | Highland Brewing

very good
536 Reviews
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:
No notes at this time.

Added by stirgy on 01-11-2002

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 536 | Ratings: 1,456
Photo of hopphead31415
4.06/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Look-This beer pours a crystal clear dark amber color that glints with a reddish copper hue in the light. The
head settles into a bready layer after settling.

Smell-It smells like oak, caramel, spices, fruits and such.

Taste-This tastes like sugar cherries, caramel, nutmeg/spices, fruits, and candied almonds. The alcohol comes at the end with the carbonation.

Mouthfeel-It feels smooth and medium-bodied. There is a pleasant coating on the tongue that reminds me of an oak bourbon barrel for cellaring barley wines and such although this one is just an ale.

Overall-I keep getting surprised by Highland Brewing. Although they can’t compete with Ommegang, they are still quite good though.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.06/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into pint glass. The color is a golden amber with a creamy, light tan head and lacing. The smell is a nutty, bready malt and toffee. The taste is similar: caramel, toffee, nuts, and roasted malt, with a mildly hoppy finish. This is a medium-bodied, pleasantly carbonated ale, and very drinkable at 5.6 AVB. Overall, this is a tasty and very enjoyable American ale; it's favorable but light enough to enjoy more than one.

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Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
4.06/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a tulip

A: Settles into an amber color with a fizzy head that doesn’t stick around very long.

S: Smells sweet like maple syrup, a bit of spicy cinnamon, and bready malts. Put it all together, and it’s a lot like french toast, really.

T/M: Tastes of mild citrus hoppiness, some syrup sweetness and bread malts in the finish. There is a medium amount of carbonation making this beer decently light and quite refreshing.

I don’t know if this beer epitomizes old Scottish tradition, but if so, then I’m feeling pretty Gael…

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Photo of nriech
4.07/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Deep hazy copper. Lots of head dissapating quickly. Lots of carbonation.

Smell: Citrus and hoppy. Obvious flavors coming from the type of hops used. Caramel and alcohol are present also.

Taste: The hops actually are blended in nicely. Almost like an extra hoppy ale but not so far as an IPA. Very easy to drink. No alcohol taste present. Good balance on the aftertaste with fruit and malt. A good choice.

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Photo of csmiley
4.07/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thank you to mikesgroove for this Highland selection

A - Pours a murky amber color with some hints of brown thrown in for good measure. The beige head topped out at just under half inch and didn't stick around for too long. Lacing is minimal.

S - Quite malty in the nose. Some caramel and bready aromas really dominate. Nuts and granola finish it up. Hold on, I think there are some hops in there too but they are VERY mild. Alcohol is nowhere to be found. Aroma is simple yet nice.

T - Starts out with caramel and toffee. Could be some brown sugar mixed in as well. Bread flavors push through around midway (crust and whole grain). Hop bitterness definitely rounds out the flavor. Touch of lemon and grapefruit. Hop flavor is pretty mild and doesn't get in the way of the malt.

M - Medium bodied with carbonation that is just right. Finish starts out sweet but a lingering bitterness from the hops holds out for a while longer.

D - Dinkability is really good. This would make for a great session brew. There is more than enough going on in this beer to keep it interesting and it is simple enough to put away all night long. Alcohol is hidden behind the flavors pretty well which just adds to the overall drinkability. Kudos to Highland for a tasty brew.

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Photo of inebrius
4.07/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Slightly mired amber nether a thin grasping head. Nose is alternately big toasty malt and floral hop. Nicely balanced mild roast malt back to citric hop front. A mite fizzy, but good.

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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 GratefulBeerGuy
4.08/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to ncvbc for this stuff!
12 0z. bottle > 16 oz. SA glass.

This one pours out as a deep, reddish amber color with good carbonation and a one-finger, off-white head that dissipates pretty quick but has plenty of scattered covering left over, moderatly sticky.

Sweet malt in the nose, caramel, subtle fruity notes of raspberry tarts, hemp seeds, herbal and earthy hop notes way down.

This is a very malty brew for an American Amber style, Sweet toffee, fried dough-like maltiness that is bold, much bolder than the aroma. It's pretty complex for this style too, with a nice hoppy counter balance of fruits, lush red berries, raspberry tarts, earthy, leafy, but it's a sublime balance overall. The finish is an easy wheaty, herbal and alsmost zesty effect, really hardy at the end.

Light to medium feel, crisp, clean, decent bite that smooths out just as it goes down.

This is really very good for a style that is ofter mediocre at best. And the bagpipes, man you gotta love the bagpipes!

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Photo of Hoptometrist
4.08/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served from the bottle into a shaker glass

A- Poured a hazy dark orange color with creamy off-white head. Great head retention and left lots of chunky and sticky lace.

S- Citrus, pine, and lots of caramel maltiness

T- Citrus and piney hops balanced out with a big caramal malt backbone. Very balanced tasting beer.

M- Very creamy, smooth, and quite a bit of body

O- A really nice, easy drinking beer with a great creamy mouthfeel. Very balanced between the hops and malt.

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Photo of marshmarsh
4.09/5  rDev +7.3%
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

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Photo of tvv375ia
4.09/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass

A-somewhat hazy burnt orange color with about a finger of head that fades quickly to a ring without much lacing

S-big bready malt up front then some carmel with a little fruitiness maybe apple or pear witha little citru hop on the finish

T-not quite as big as the smell but starts with some nutty malts and fruit like sweetness which is balanced by a mild hoppy finish

M-medium body with good carbonation

O-well balanced that really shows the style well

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Photo of loren01
4.09/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured amber reddish color, good sized white head. Slight lacing down the glass
S: Sweet, malty/biscut scent. Hint of maple syrup
T: Sweetness up front. Caramel/toffee flavors. Plenty sweet, some might think too sweet....for me pretty tasty, just right in my book. A slight bit of hoppiness in the aftertaste
M: Medium bodied beer, smooth goes down easy.
D: Very good beer, if I could get this beer I would drink it quite often. I think I need to find a clone recipie so I can try making this beer cause I think it would go over pretty well with most everybody.

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.09/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass. Thanks, Darren.

A: An opaque bronze. An off-white one-finger head that dissipates fast. Filmy lacing.

S: Caramel, bourbon, leather.

T: A barrel of caramel with cherries. A nice malty base. Smooth, sweet. Chocolate enters the scene late with a peat-y finish.

M: Medium with medium carbonation. A dry finish.

O: A terrific ale, one I'd drink again.

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Photo of Thiestru
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
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!

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Photo of daliandragon
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up at Whole Foods in Raliegh, a good source for local craft brew, although not always real cheap. Pours a dark copper with off white head that condenses to a cap. Nose is hefty dark malts with coffee and caramel tones, reminiscennt of a porter. Nutty and roasted tones inhabit the olifactory unit as well. Not a typical start for an Irish red, but that's ok by me.

Strong malt profile in the taste with deep, lasting coffee flavor tempered by caramel and a touch of Cascade hops at the front of the sip. Delicious, smooth, chocolaty aftertaste. Lots going on in this tasty brew, and none of it is like any Irish red I've ever had. Still, this is a quality, easy drinking brew with character and originality.

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Photo of neenerzig
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got a 12 oz bottle of this at a Publix in Sarasota, FL on my vacation that I am still currently on there. I have never seen this beer in Cleveland, OH. Poured into my pint glass, this beer is a clear, medium amber color with a bit of a copper hue and ruby highlights when held up to the light. has a nice white fluffy head about 2/3 inch thick when poured, before settling to a nice thick ring lining the inside of the glass. Not too much lacing unfortunately. Has a toasty bready, caramel malt aroma with some fruit such as cherry and figs. Has a good toasted bready caramel malt sweetness flavor upfront, followed by hints of honey and vanilla, then with some fruit such as cherry and figs, and rounded out with a hint of suble hops. The hops aren't really noticeable, your palate has to search for them or it would never know the hop presence was there at all. Overall a more complex beer flavorwise than most other amber ales I have had. Nicely done! Has a crisp, smooth, slightly chewy, medium to full bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Quite easy to drink in the good way beers like this ought to be. A very good beer here!


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Photo of zoso493
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic.

Appearance: Pours a nice ruby red without a trace of haze to it. It has a foamy two-finger head that makes it's way quickly down the glass, leaving some slight lacing as it does.

Smell: This one has a very subdued smell and it's tricky to pull out many individual scents. You can tell that there are more malts in the nose than hops, with the malts being primarily toasty/buttery and the hops having a grainy character.

Taste: The lighter, toasty malts are definitely the primary flavor in the taste, with the hops providing a nice, spicy bittering finish. It's a not a hugely bold beer but it pretty smooth and drinkable.

Mouthfeel: This one is a little on the thinner side of things but I'm willing to forgive that since the beer is past it's best buy date by about a month and is still exceedingly crisp.

Drinkability: This is a pretty drinkable brew as it's very light and low in alcohol. I would definitely by a sixer of these to drink on a cool autumn's night.

Overall, this is a nice take on the style, though it's very much a subdued beer. Because I'm in North Carolina, I sort of took for granted that I'd be getting a fresh beer but now that I'm looking I see it's been past it's prime by about a month. Still, I've had this beer several times before and I've always enjoyed it. This is definitely a brew worth trying.

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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 chamberscreek
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this ale from Highland. Enough punch and depth of flavor for an ale, but crisp and light enough for a summer refreshment. A good utility infielder of an ale (that's a complement).

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Photo of DanThomas
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Bright brown, coppery, color with a bit of red. Thin white rim of foam, leaves a little on the glass. Cloudy

S - Rather sweet, almost like brown sugar, caramelized apple, rye. I really like the smell.

T - Brown sugar definitely, caramel, some malt base to it, especially as the beer has warmed. Don't notice hops until the finish, as they cleanse the palate very well (exactly what hops are good for).

M - Very nice. The aforementioned hop finish is refreshing, good level of carbonation.

D - Overall, excellent. Would go well with several different foods, and I would enjoy a nice session evening with this beer. Great job Highland!

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Photo of kimcgolf
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was a surprisingly good amber ale, that slightly resembled an APA. Poured to a dark golden copper with thick off-white head that lingered well into the glass and left good lacing on the glass. Aroma was a hoppy fruit, mostly citrus, but with a sweet malty undertone. Mouthfeel was full bodied and slightly bitter, while the flavor accentuated the hoppy fruit of the nose.

This all led to a nice long bitter finish that was rounded out by the malty sweetness. A darn good beer.

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Photo of GJ40
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from a 12oz bottle in a standard pint glass. No date on the bottle.

A - Amber in color with great clarity, a small tan head and well defined lacing.

S - Caramel and toast with the smallest hint of fruit.

T - A nice malt foundation with caramel, bread, biscuits and a mild sweetness. There's a touch of hop flavor, a suggestion of fruit and a mild bitterness. This is a well balanced beer that sticks to the basics and doesn't disappoint.

M - A firm consistency with a moderate carbonation that allows the flavor to come through.

D - This is an easy drinking beer that few could object to.

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Photo of Jwale73
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to unionturf for the opportunity to try this one. 12oz. bottle served in my SA Sensory pint. No freshness dating indicated on the bottle. Poured a deep, translucent amber with a one inch, frothy, off-white cap that almost crested the lip of the glass. Head eventually settled into a thin, broken skim with only a few spatterings of lacing preent during the tasting. Nose was malty with a light floral hops aroma in the background. Taste follows nose. Very malty with a toasted caramel character. Maybe even an earthy/peat-like quality in there. Mouthfeel is between light and medium with a hint of carbonation and a nice, unexpected creaminess. Excellent drinkability; so flavorful and easy drinking with more malt than hops coming out (just the way I like it).

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Photo of ncvbc
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber with reddish hues and a medium head with good retention and lacing. Smell of caramel malt, light fruit, and spicy, earthy hops with a light citrus. Taste is much of the same and adds a toasted bread to the mix. Very well balanced and quite flavorful, more so than from the bottle it seems. Good lighter body with solid carbonation and just the right amount of bitterness to counterbalance the sweetness of the beer. A session Amber if there ever was one.

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Photo of jjanega08
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

No freshness dating

A= Pours a nice slightly hazy deep amber color with a nice off white sort of tannish head on it that holds steady at a half finger high and leaves some steady lacing.

S= The smell is a sort of nutty deep almost caramelly sweetness... No hop aroma and not much deep roast. The smell is sort of unique and not unpleasant. It has a sort of grainy raw mash smell to it.

T= The taste is again a very nice sweetness. Little to no hop flavor in it but there is a nice sort of grainy mash taste to it that leaves you wanting more. This is a nice tasting amber that isn't overly hopped.

M= A near perfect carbonation.

O= This beer is avery well done red ale that isn't the overly hopped variety. This beer has a nice grain flavor and a solid mouth. This is a solid beer that you should seek.

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Highland Gaelic Ale from Highland Brewing
3.81 out of 5 based on 1,456 ratings.
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