Highland Tasgall Ale | Highland Brewing

very good
182 Ratings
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Highland Tasgall AleHighland Tasgall Ale

Brewed by:
Highland Brewing
North Carolina, United States

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by AlexJ on 08-26-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 182 |  Reviews: 151
Photo of Vancer
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Good ol’ blackie sent this to me in the NoBSBIF Beta. Appreshit!!

I’ve never seen a scotch ale so dark brown, almost black – showcased topped by a foamy and lacey tan head.

A deep aroma of wood peat moss tingles the nose. Rich and full bodied, a real malt bomb of scotch ale flavor, smokiness, and coffee. Very nice indeed, I notice the 8% at the end of the bomber by my rosy red cheeks, but not during the quaff. A solid offering by Highland.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a really dark brown, almost black with a light tan headthat quickly goes away. Much darker than your typical scotch ale.

Smellis quite light, mostly just a faint, but pleasant roasty aroma.

Taste is quite nice. Dryer than most Scotch ales, with the roasted grains more in evidence than lots of sweet malt. Almost smokey, and with a nice edge of bitterness and a late malt hit on the finish. An unusual and delicious rendition.

Mouthfeel is silky smooth and not sticky at all. Carbonation is medium.

Quite drinkable, and the alcohol is not noticed at all.

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Photo of AndoBrew
3.62/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

*did not mind would not buy*

app: looks like dark coffee in the light. cute little tan head.. not very big or powerful looking. I like scotch ales to look powerful some ok lace

smell: smells like a standard brown ale.. nice toasty malts, clean booze. weak smell though.

taste: oh how it taste much more rich than the smell. nice. very toasted smokie almost malts.. yes smokie.. mostly some brown malt sweets then toasted more black smoke filled warmer nuttier malt flavors. lotsa carbonation, and some clean water flavors as well.

nice booze flavors start to pop out.. not te cleanest or clearest booze, maybe a little sour.. but its okie dokie.

I think the building sour aspects, the over carbonation, the lack of richness and an almost one dimensional flavor really limit this beer.

A lack of anything offensive really help this beer.

mf: a little watery and to much carbonation

drinkable?: it is. its just not great.

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Photo of dgallina
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1 pint, 6 fluid ounce brown bomber. No date on the bottle or label.

Pours clear dark brown (nearly black), with a small amount of off-white head that rapidly disappears. A bit of thin sticky lace left over. Smells of sweet powdery cocoa, lactose, perhaps with the faintest herbal or dark fruity edge. Flavor is a pleasantly subtle surprise. Starts off somewhat thin and grainy, with a touch of cocoa and hop bite in the center. Builds slowly to a good chocolate and dry burnt toast finish. Some gentle lingering alcohol spice and warming. Medium body that's mostly creamy and thinly carbonated; mouth-coating and slightly oily. Uninspired at first blush; ultimately held together by a satisfying finish.

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep caramel brown with hints of red at the edges. Creamy tan head lasts quite a while and leaves chunks of lace on the glass.

Aroma is full-on malt sweetness with hints of winter warmer spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) in the background. Only the slightest hint of alcohol sweetness which hides quite nicely with the caramel malts.

Very nice taste - sweet but not overpowering with notes of caramel, molasses, candied fruits, vanilla and spice. Deep, rich, mellow combining of flavors.

Medium to heavy bodied with an amazing silky creamy texture. Light carbonation and light hopping provide a clean finish. Very mild alcohol vapors in the back of the nose but no burn on the palate. Surprisingly no oily or sugary residue on the tongue.

Wow, wow and wow. I'd put this beer up for about nine months and I don't know how it compares to fresh but this bottle was damn near perfect. The only way it might be improved on is if it were put in oak for about six months and then you might just have the ultimate scotch ale.

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Photo of akorsak
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 650 mL bomber served in a Troegenator seidel.

A: The ale has a small white ring of head that retains moderately well. The beer itself is a deep black cherry red with lighter ruby red hints when held to light.

S: The ale has a slightly smoky aroma that accentuates a biscuity malt nose.

T: The beer has a thick and chewy malt body, although those malts are restrained and this is not a malt bomb. The flavors that I pick up are caramel and nuttiness with a smoky undertone. The hops add a slight kick, just enough to add a slight break to the malts

M: The malts are strong, with a wide array of flavors, giving the beer a pleasant taste.

D: Very drinkable and a decent example of a wee heavy.

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Photo of sabrills70
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz brown bottle with no freshness date. Pours a thick looking chestnut brown with a one finger head and OK lace. Smells of big heavy malts. Aromas of molasses & some chocolate as well. Big roasted malt flavors mixed with hints of coffee, chocolate and molasses. A fair mix of hop and roasted malt bitterness in the finish. The 8%abv is well hidden. Somwhat thick and heavy but good drinkability considering.

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Photo of WAP
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured an almost-opaque blackish brown, with a little ruby when held to light. 1/2" light-brown head leaves sticks to the sides a little. Nose is brown sugar and roasted malts. First sip reminds me of a porter, but with a little sweetness followed by a slight smoky finish and very slight alcohol warming sensation. Extremely tasty! Drinkability is very good for the style. A very nice effort from Highland.

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Photo of veech
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a big robust Scotch ale that has a definite kick. It pours a dark brownish black that is deep ruby when held to light. It had proper carbonation, and tons of head and lacing when poured from the 22 oz bomber into a standard pint glass.The nose and taste were on equal planes:the smokiness that one expects from this style is there in spades. After you get over the smoky malt there is an equal hoppiness to balance the flavor with a pretty strong alcohol presence upon finishing. The only drawback is that the body and alcohol would limit the drinkability, but that being said, yet another winner from the fine folks at Highland. I look forward to visiting them in Asheville at the Smoky Mtn Brewgrass festival next month

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Photo of russpowell
4.6/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle pours ruby red/brown with a 1/4" tan head ring. Good lacing & some head retention

S: Rich choclate malt

T: Choclate with slight bitterness up front. Then cinamon, honey, licorice & molasses all surface at some point. Finishes sweet, malty, with choclate & warming alcohol notes

MF: Slick, medium body with good balance & understated carbonation (perfect)

Very drinkable despite the heft, really enjoy this style & this is an outstanding example from an outstanding brewery!

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Photo of gbarron
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 22 oz. bottle.

A - dark, dark chestnut, nearly opaque in the middle. Reddish brown on the edges. Head is a very thick, puffy pool of tan bubbles. Lacing is average, retention is excellent.

S - rich, sweet caramel malt aromas. Milk chocolate. Toasting hazelnuts. Hints of alcohol. Delicious, smoky, chocolatey aroma. Little or no hop aroma.

T - taste matches the aroma. On the sweet side. Rich, deep chocolate, caramel, malted milk balls. Faint bitterness tries to balance it out, but this is a sweet malty beer. Very little hop flavor except in afteraste, earthy. Slight alcohol warming.

M - medium to thick bodied, slightly sticky at the end. Chewy, rich, silky.

D - this beer is extremely tasty, but very filling and the alcohol content might make it prohibitive as a frequent drinker.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.01/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cherry tobacco with orange peel edges and a firmly creamy crown the color of buttered, toasted wheat bread. A solid sheet of lace--now starting to tear--is beginning to form as the head slowly deflates. What more could I ask of a Scotch ale? Nothing, that's what. Quality through and through.

The nose is too shy. It needn't be though, because it's a good one. Moderately roasted malt, cocoa and dark brown sugar struggle to reach ramming speed and don't quite get there. Without more power I have no hope of appreciating any of the less aggressive aspects of the aroma that I'm sure must be present.

Thankfully, the beer is more forthcoming on the palate. While it isn't the biggest or the deepest Wee Heavy on the block, it is a tasty little sucker with no shortage of flavor. The initial portion of the flavor arc is almost porter-like due to the abundant roasted malt flavors. Within moments though, brown sugar, dark caramel and dark fruit (raisins, figs) come to the fore.

I'm struggling to identify any peatiness or smokiness whatsoever. Perhaps a few tendrils of the latter make an appearance on the back end. I'm sure that the absence of those particular flavors has a lot to do with my sense that Tasgall isn't especially multi-faceted or particularly deep. That's okay because it's still damn tasty beer.

The body/mouthfeel is just above the lower limit of acceptabililty for the style. Keep in mind that I love full-bodied beer and my lower limit is probably a good bit north of the style guidelines. The mouthfeel is lightly chewy--and that's being generous--but it could be a mite thicker and stickier to suit me.

Tasgall Ale isn't the equal of my favorite domestic versions (AleSmith Wee Heavy and Founders Dirty Bastard), but it occupies third place easily enough. I'm only two offerings away from running the Highland Brewing table and I haven't run across a less than good beer yet.

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Photo of SilentSabre
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I typically like real Scottish "wee heavies", but this was an honestly great American attempt at replicating the style.
It poured a wonderful dark, slightly hazy, chestnut colour with an off-white foamy head that lasted about 60 seconds or so.
The smell was mostly sweet malts with a slightly noticeable alcohol smell partially hidden. There's a bit of candied fruit present, as well. The taste consisted primarily of the sweet malts present in the smell with a nearly un-noticeable amount of hops on the back end; they're there, though. This seems very well balanced, to me. The overall structure of this beer seems moderately deep. It's smooth, and at the same time, fairly heavy and certainly full bodied. I truly enjoyed this one.

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Photo of ByTor2112
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had this on draft at Old Town and I have had almost all of Highland's except this one and my Cold Mountain which is aging as I write. Very nice malty aroma with some hops and alcohol present, a hint of piney woods? A nice tan head that hung around but disappeared. Deep dark copper not quite brown color. First sip I tasted the malt and hops and acohol. My first thoughts were a DIPA because it had an almost resinous taste and feel. Good thick mouthfeel, a little peat smoked malt? but did NOT taste smokey. Anything Highland brews is gold and this Wee Heavy is choice. I felt as if the taste was bold in the beginning then finished cleaner. A killer balance of a strong malt backbone, generous hops and the alcohol is present but not overbearing. This Wee Heavy beats the other I have tried that begins with a " B ".

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Photo of jameaterblues
3.65/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

So I have been experimenting with this style and I finally feel comfortable enough with it to begin reviewing it. This was my first experience with Highland's, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that all of the highland bombers have been filled by hand in their Asheville brewery since the beginning (some of their beer is contracted elsewhere).

A-Dark mahogany, with light browns and reds on the edges where the light hits...1/3-1/4 inch head that was coffee colored head had risen....there is visible carbonation near the surface. and a very thick lace.
S- Thick toffee and caramel....there is a hop presence, but it is not as pronounced as the description on the bottle makes it out to be.
T-Caramel malts strong up from, and there is also a surgery alcohol sweetness...a very mild hint of chocolate...hops hit in the middle of the body, much bigger than the hops in other beers of similar style, but still not as big as the description made it out to be...more alcohol/sweetness in the finish.
M/D- Moderate carbonation for a heavy syrupy beer....very rich. The hops drastically increased its drinkability.

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Photo of JBStith
3.26/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Highland Tasgall Ale at first taste was interesting. Not my favorite beer ever, but it was average.

A: Beautiful deep red color with a tan creamy head. Retention and lacing were low. Moderate clarity.

S: No real aroma to speak of. Could smell light malts, but no apparent hops or bitterness.

T: Surprisingly sweet and very malty. Much like the smell, there was very little bitterness present. As the beer warmed, it became even sweeter with a sticky finish. Acohol was masked by malt and sweetness.

M: Mouthfeel was heavy and sticky, especially as it warmed.

D: I could not and would not want more than one of these at a time because of the sweetness.

Overall, this was an average beer for me. Too sweet and sticky. Most of Highland's offerings are much better than this. Having said that, I always recommend that others try to make a judgement of their own.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The aroma isn't as expected, but remains quite nice. Raisin, fig and other dark fruits fight for space amidst the dominance of chocolate cake/liqueur-injected chocolates. So do the hops, which are there but nearly drowned out by the more dessert-y aspects. Smells like a porter, maybe a stout. Looks that way too: opaque color somewhere between brown and black, and a mocha-colored head.

Flavor is again not exactly true to style, but even Highland admits this on the label: "...increased hop level is a modest departure from a true Scotch-style Ale..." The flavor is hearty and bready overall, all kinds of roasty toasty malts happening, succulent dark fruit elements...and the hops keep it from moving into the realm of liquid cake. Alcohol is detected but it's far from dominant, giving a nice warming glow, like a sherry or bourbon.

The mouthfeel is a wee bit heavy (sorry...), feels real good, appropriate for what's happening here. But considering that and the 8% ABV, it's safe to say this is a special-occasion ale, or an occasional indulgence. Not a daily thing. Good good stuff.

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Photo of SethB2
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a chalice.

A - Deep brown, nearing black with an oatmeal head and a small amount of lacing.

S - Coffee, chocolate, some ripe fruits malts peaking through. Nice.

T - Wow. Nice. Tasgall doesn't remind me of a Scotch ale while drinking it. I'm not getting the smoky peat flavors much, but they are still there. This, to me, tastes more like a Porter. Either way, I like it a lot.

M+D - Good on both accounts. Mouth is medium and very smooth. Drinkablity wouldn't be a problem either. Nice beer.

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Photo of hopsaplenty
3.64/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz brown bottle, with no obvious date information.

Clear, deep rubied amber. Thick, dense head of dimpled khaki bubbles that left strands of lacing as it settled. No carbonation streams are present. Some light hints of vanilla, but amazingly nothing else in the nose. Strange. Full, sweet malt, some dark fruit that is vinous. These fruit notes persist throughout along with a subtle bitterness that keeps it from being cloying. The finish is long and sweet with only a slight bittering hop bite. This one seems well put together. Full bodied with some modest carbonation give it a nice and creamy mouthfeel. Drinkable and enjoyable.

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Photo of goodbyeohio
3.84/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz thanks to my most recent bif

dark ruby, barely shows any light despite an untarnished clarity. slight foamage, nothing too impressive to look at. scents waft up of nutty, husky malts enrobed in a burnt sugar candy shell. watermelon rinds and dark berries accent the aroma. first sip broadens over my tongue, picks up a perfect level of scotch sweetness to accompany the freshly hopped bitterness- somewhate excessive by classic standards. alcohol burn is present in the post-sip breath, but not so much in the flavor. that's a welcome happening which increases drinkability.

when i want a wee heavy, i generally want something with a little more processed malt, less hops, and boozier. still, this beer succeeds in being clean and uncommonly balanced. it's more of a porter than anything, and presents itself well. maybe not what i expected but still decent. would happily revisit, and perhaps im thankful tonight for the lesser version since its so f-ing hot out.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.62/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This ale is a light orangish-brown in color with a similarly-colored head.

Smell – The malts are rich and powerful here and have a light scotch aroma to go along with them. The sugar is like a sticky, liquid sugar syrup and I can pick up some light alcohol in the foreground.

Taste – This is super-sweet once it hits your tongue. It’s a very refined sweetness and lightly swabbed with alcohol. It’s reminiscent of Southern Comfort if you’ve ever had that.

Mouthfeel – This just does meet the bar of medium-bodied with a slick, sticky mouthfeel and some good boozy notes.

Drinkability – This is a sharp but somewhat broken down Scotch Ale.

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Photo of goschool
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first beer from North Carolina is also North Carolina's first high gravity beer. This one pours a deep mohagany with a medium to large tan head that descends to a small ring. Smokiness, sweetly caramel malts and an apropriate dose of hops make for a nice aroma. The taste is in the same ballpark. It has peat-smoked malts, roasted malts, caramel malts, chocalate, toffee, and a descent hop bitterness. The mouthfeel is thinner then I had expected for 8% abv brew. I can't taste the alcohol, but I can feel it now that I'm alsmost through with the bottle. Way to go "Pop the Cap" and Highland Brewing Company!

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Photo of rodrot
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes taken on 10/2/05 :This beer poured dark, reddish amber, almost brown. A faint malt aroma wafted from my glass. The taste was malty, with a slight hop flavor and an alcohol burn in the finish. I was disappointed with this beer. It seemed very average and had very little hop character to it(like the label says it should). I had this on tap right after the cap was lifted in NC and I remember it being much better than this bottle offering. I'll probably put one of these bottles away for a few months and see if it gets better with aging.

I'm reviewing this beer again on 03/13/06 after about six months of aging and it has definitely improved with time. The beer poured a very dark brown color with a half inch head that left quite a bit of lace on the glass. The appearance was so dark that it looked more like a porter to me. Aroma was very malty with hints of cocoa and hops in the nose. Taste was quite malty and chocolatey up front with notes of cherries, prunes and dark fruit. This beer was medium to full bodied and had a warming alcoholic kick in the finish. On my first review of this beer it seemed a little rough around the edges and didn't really impress me too much. A few more months of cellaring has benefitted this ale and it has rounded out quite well.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle from AKSmokedPorter as part of Secret Santa 2005. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1" light brown head above the clear burgundy brew. Head fades slowly, settles at about half height, with plentiful tan lacing. Aroma is hearty dark malt, with fruits and a bit of alcohol making token appearances. Taste is similar ot the nose, but with a slight smokiness coming in over the dark sweetness. Fruitiness is present in the middle, and alcohol slightly warms the throat. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, and drinkability is nice as well. Another nice one from Highland.

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Photo of Sammy
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A nicely quaffable and moderately smoked scotch. Good balance and smooth. Brown and decent dark head. Chocolate, spice, good carbonation and mouthfeel. Tasty. North Carolina is rising in the charts since they popped their cap.Sampled with the Atlanta B.A. crew at Brick Store Pub.

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Highland Tasgall Ale from Highland Brewing
4.06 out of 5 based on 182 ratings.
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