Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Highland Gaelic Ale | Highland Brewing

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
533 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 pezoids on 01-11-2002

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 533 | Ratings: 1,444
Photo of maleman
3.97/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. no freshness dating noted on bottle.

A - a cloudy dark amber with a one finger head that receded quickly into a thin cap. thin, clingy lacing.

S - very heavy sweet malt aroma with a bit of chocolate, or coffee.

T - toasted malt that belied the sweetness in the nose. the coffee/chocolate tones continue coming through. a good bit of piney resin in the aftertaste.

M - medium-bodied. average carbonation. tasty finish.

D - this brew was given as a christmas gift but ended up being one of the best gifts i received! nice job by this small brewery in asheville. will purchase more of this brew when i'm in the area again.

 669 characters

Photo of Matt1516
3.93/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A surprising pour: Dark amber with a small to medium foamy off-white head. Slight lacing through the session. Hoppy smell with breadiness.

Great creamy mouthfeel. Lots of caramel and hops in the taste, fresh bread and sour malts. Semi-sweet aftertaste with a touch of dryness.

One of the better red ales I've had of late.

 323 characters

Photo of MattBrooks
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice head with good color and body. Has caramel aroma that blends nicely into the taste and a nutty, smooth, clean finish. I found it very easy to drink, with not a lot of aftertaste, but enough to get it by. Received in a trade, and I sure wish we could get it up here all the time.

 283 characters

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.

 1,131 characters

Photo of atomicbeer
4.35/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draft pint at Sine Irish Pub at the Pentagon City Mall. Red copper color arrived with 1/2 inch white head. Malty sweet fruit cocktail (candied peach, pear, cherry, and orange) aroma with a kick of grapefruit hops. Fruity taste with grapefruit zest. Remarkable balance of sweet malt and bitter hops. Really enjoyable!

 316 characters

Photo of jabocu
3.85/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy deep amber/mahogany color with a thick tan head. Good head retention as well as some belgian lacing. Sweet malty caramel like aroma with just a little citrusy hops in the background. Flavor is nice caramel malts, spices of clove and a little pepper, and earthy hop bitterness. My first Highland beer, but I hope to try many others.

 344 characters

Photo of gosurfobx
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep redish copper color with a three finger width tan head. Smell is malty with a nice soft and rounded hop aroma. Taste has a nice maltyness well balanced with hops (cascade and at least one other). Mouthfeel is good, the beer's thinkness on the tongue is well balanced with its carbination. Good drinkability.

 320 characters

Photo of drink1121
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown Ale meets Scots Ale,in pretty much every facet.

A - Good looking beer. Nice Auburn brown/copper color with a 3 finger head. Good retention.

S - Toasted malt smell, which naturally smells a bit nutty. Caramel/toffee hints.

T - Tastes like it smells

M - Brown meets Scots again here.

D - I had 2. Thats about all I could have, but def enjoyable.

 355 characters

Photo of rustymoore
4.23/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish copper with a thick robust head that leads to a good amount of lacing. Smells of spices and hops. A bit fruity as well. Taste is sweet with brown sugar and caramel with a strong hop presence. Very tasty. Will have to incorporate this brew into my regular rotation as well.

 288 characters

Photo of BeerMark
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Highland Gaelic Ale is my first beer from Highland Brewing. Nice amber color but appears a little thin. Makes up for the watery look by being pretty flavorfull. Malts and caramel are present with just a touch of hops. A better than average American Amber Red Ale. Excellant drinkability.

 287 characters

Photo of JohnL9013
3.73/5  rDev -2.1%
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 gerite
3.53/5  rDev -7.3%
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 wcdoyle
3.78/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Orange-amber colored with a light caramel head. This beer is translucent, but not cloud, which was interesting (the translucent part) considering how light the color is. Head does fade, but there's solid lacing. Smell was a combination caramel/brown sugar with a very faint bit of orange/citrus. Nice combo. Hops kick in with the taste but the maltiness doesn't die down either. Still mostly caramel, but also some roasted quality blended in..Solid balance. The hop bitterness is there toward to finish, but doesn't actually linger, which may make this beer seem too sweet for some. Nice medium mouthfeel. This is a beer that seems longing to be served on draft.

 662 characters

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....

 1,295 characters

Photo of Crimsonfloods
3.25/5  rDev -14.7%
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 JohnnyI
3.7/5  rDev -2.9%
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%
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 jasadewi
3.84/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It is a dark amber and red ale. It smells like caramel. It smells like a masculine and bitter toffee or candy. It tastes great and sweet and bitter at the same time. It feels relatively light and its a great beer to finish a night.

 235 characters

Photo of bobbyc881
4.48/5  rDev +17.6%
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 -9.4%
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 +8.9%
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.

 455 characters

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.

 391 characters

Photo of rmolledo
3.17/5  rDev -16.8%
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 +0.3%
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 -0.8%
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

Highland Gaelic Ale from Highland Brewing
3.81 out of 5 based on 1,444 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!