Highland Gaelic Ale Clone Recipe

Gaelic ale labelHighland Brewing Company is one of the oldest breweries in North Carolina that is still brewing beer.  Founded in 1994, the brewery used mostly retrofitted dairy equipment.  Today, Highland Brewing Co is very popular and is distributed throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Their flagship beer is the Gaelic Ale.  According to a December 2002 Brew Your Own Magazine article,

“Gaelic Ale is a crossbreed of Scottish ale and American amber. It has the higher original gravity and intense maltiness of a Scottish ale, but the higher hop bittering level of a typical American amber. The yeast ferments to a low final gravity to bring the malt flavor into balance. Briess malts and American hops make this beer truly American.”

The below extract recipe is from the same BYO Magazine article back in 2002.  You can convert this recipe to all-grain (instructions below), and in addition, I have located another all-grain recipe as well.

5 Gallon Extract Recipe

Original Gravity 1.056 (1.052 to 1.060)
Final Gravity 1.013 (1.010 to 1.016)
Mash Efficiency 75%
Bitterness 30-32 IBU
Alcohol 5.6% ABV


3.3 lbs light liquid malt extract
2 lbs light dry malt extract
1.5 lbs Munich malt (10L)
0.5 lb crystal 60L
1 lb crystal 40L
0.25 lb Briess Extra Special malt (or substitute Special B)


8 AAU Chinook bittering hops (0.75 oz of 12.0% alpha)
2.5 AAU Willamette aroma hops (0.5 oz of 5.0% alpha)
2.9 AAU Cascade aroma hops (0.5 oz of 5.8% alpha)


1 tsp Irish moss (15 mins)
0.75 cups corn sugar (priming)


White Labs WLP001 California Ale -or- Wyeast 1056 American Ale


Steep the specialty grain in 3 gallons of water at 150F for 30 minutes.
Remove grain from the wort
Add LME and DME and bring to a boil.
Add Chinook hops and boil for 60 minutes
Add Irish moss for final 15 minutes of the boil
Add Willamette and Cascade hops at end of boil and steep for 2 minutes
Strain out the hops and add wort to two gallons of cool water in a sanitary fermenter
Top off with cool water to 5.5 gallons and cool the wort to 64-66F
Aerate the beer and pitch the yeast


Replace the  LME and DME with 6 lbs Briess pale malt and increase the Munich malt to 2.75 lbs. Mash all grains at 150F for 60 min. Collect enough wort to boil for 90 min and have a 5.5 gal yield. Lower the amount of the Chinook bittering hops to 0.6 oz to account for higher alpha acid extraction of a full boil.


5 Gallon All-Grain Recipe (Alternate)

Total Grain (Lbs): 10.75
Anticipated OG: 1.054
Color (SRM): 13.9
Anticipated IBU: 31.3
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes
Single Infusion Mash @ 153° for 60 minutes



Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.

% LB OZ Malt or Fermentable Potential SRM
55.8% 6 0 Pale Malt (2-row) UK 1.038 3
27.9% 3 0 Munich Malt (Germany) 1.037 8
9.3% 1 0 Crystal 40L 1.034 40
4.7% 0 8 Crystal 60L 1.034 60
2.3% 0 4 Special B Malt 1.030 120


Use Time OZ Variety Form AA
boil 60 mins 0.5 Chinook Whole 13.0
aroma 5 mins 0.75 Willamette Whole 5.0
aroma 5 mins 0.75 Cascade Whole 5.75


White Labs WLP001 California Ale -or- Wyeast 1056 American Ale

I have not done either of the all-grain recipes, but I did brew the extract recipe a year or so ago and it turned out quite well.  I don’t remember doing a side-by-side taste test, but I do remember being quite pleased with the outcome.  Again, if you brew any of these recipes, please let us know how it goes and if it is accurate!



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Hi Chris,
Just a quick note to tell you that your recipe for HGA has become my “go to” session beer. I’ve brewed this recipe 4 times (3 of them all grain) and it’s pretty much perfect. I will add that the last two attempts I’ve dry hopped with .5 oz of Willamette for a little extra “somethin somethin” before kegging and both batches have turned out terrific. Thanks for the great recipe!


Thanks Ethan! I’m glad it turned out well for you. I haven’t brewed this one in a while, so I might just have to add it into the pipeline again soon – thanks for the reminder!


I have made several Gaelic clones and my last one turned out extremely well. I cannot do a side by side test since I have 1,000 miles away. Basically what you see above was my last attempt and it turned out great. I will be using the AG recipe above but using American Ale II since it is all that I have on hand.

Good work!


I have been brewing from kits HME, with only one fermentation, not racking, going right to bottles. Does this HGA clone recipe need to be racked for secondary fermentation to come out right/good?


Hi Michael – this recipe does not require a secondary fermentation. I would let it ferment for about 2-3 weeks, then bottle condition as you normally would, or rack to a keg if you are serving from a keg.

Generally, the only times that I will transfer to a secondary fermentor is when I am aging a beer for extended periods of time, or if I’m adding something to the fermentor – wild yeast, fruit, etc. Otherwise, assuming my fermentation period is 8 weeks or less, then a single fermentation will work just fine and help avoid any oxygen pick-up that could occur when transferring to a secondary vessel.


do you remember the fermentation temp (range) you kept this at? I am looking at the wyeast 1056 it has a wide temp range.


Mike – this is a fairly low-ester beer, so if you’re using 1056 then I would aim for the lower end of the range, say 65-68, which if you’re like me, that’s about the temperature range of your house this time of year, so it should work out well even if you don’t have specific fermentation temperature control.


Just got done with boil. Sitting in brewer’s bucket! Will let you know how it turns out. Local store didn’t have same yeast but had comparable that would give a little more esters. Will repost specific yeast used.


Using WLP007 Dry English Ale

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