Highland Brewing Gaelic Ale

It's hard to believe that Asheville, North Carolina didn't have a brewery until 1994. I realize to some of you that may have been a long, long time ago, but I remember the 90s. It just seems like there would've been an established brewery headquartered in a city like Asheville for quite some time. But, I'm going to take these guys at their word. They were the first!

The very clear, deep amber beer has a reasonable head that has a lot of staying power. The lacing it leaves on the sides eventually dribbles down, but it's very nice to look at while it's there. The aroma is grains and sawdust with some caramel, maple sugar, and maybe some candied yams mixed into it. It's an interesting presentation, and it's not as imposing as I feared when I picked it up.

The sip shows a beer that has a lot of lightly toasted malt with spices kind of sprinkled on top with a very thin caramel glaze. The hops are there to enjoy themselves as well, but they're not jumping around happy. Instead, the fairly agreeable malt is taking charge. It's surprising how sweet this is, but I suppose that's an aspect of the style.

Tip-in is a little tart and sweet with caramel and brown sugar sweetening and the tartness coming from the hops, but it feels like it's coming from maybe a caramel that's gone bad. The middle is a bit prickly, as the hops graze the top of the mouth while the thick, grainy caramel malt and the yeast stew under it all. The finish is a warm mix of the yeast in malt with the hops bringing even more tartness to it. This was definitely better balanced in the sip.

Bottom Line: It's a good try and a bold beer.

2.75/5

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