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Highland 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale

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RATINGS: 30   MEAN: 3.49/5.0   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.42/5   SEASONAL: Special   IBU: 25   EST. CALORIES: 240   ABV: 8%
Twenty years has passed since Highland first opened its creaky basement door, in a town otherwise bereft of breweries. Even with vast development of beer culture in Asheville, our name anchors us here. Highland honors the legends of the Scots Irish, so deeply woven into the Southern Appalachians. On this special occasion, Brewmaster John Lyda gives a nod to local history again, this time with a limited edition Highland Brewing Company 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale. Rich caramel and roasted notes blend with a subtle hop nose to create an ale suited for the finest occasions. Medium-bodied, it has a brown-red hue from a Caramel malt and roasted barley. It is brewed with the finest traditional Scottish malts and English Fuggle hops. A late addition of Sterling hops imparts a slightly spicy nose, ever so subtle. Grains: Thomas Fawcett Golden Promise, Briess 2-row, Briess Carapils, Briess Caramel 40, Simpson Roast Hops: Fuggle & Sterling ABV: 8% IBU: 25

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
ChadPolenz (1700) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - OCT 16, 2015
Breweries tend to go big and bold for their anniversary brews, so itís not surprise that Highland 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale is an 8% ABV take on a style thatís known for being anything but a session beer. Iím not sure if this was intended for extended aging (and, if so, what was to be gained by doing so), though I do know that it still is a high quality bottle Iíd recommend all appreciators of complex, robust beers pick up.

I poured a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. It was bottled on 3/28/14 and was a gift from friends (thanks, Carrie and Josh!).

Appearance: Seemingly dark brown or black, but actually a deep shade of ruby red. Body is actually clear upon closer inspection. Pours to an average-sized, off-white, foamy froth which retains and laces fairly well.

Smell: Lovely fruit basket aroma; especially of red fruits: cherry, raisins, and pomegranate. A general sweet malty scent but not too intense.

Taste: I like complex palettes, though complexity without a robust flavor to support it can be a little underwhelming. Thatís whatís happening here: plenty of sweet fruity/malty flavors, but without an intensity to make them pop. Just like the nose, thereís a fruit basket thing happening here: cherry, fig, rum-soaked raisin, pomegranate, etc. A touch of alcohol lurks in the background giving it a bit of a cough syrup flavor. Up front itís slightly dry, which is also how it finishes with just a faint smokey sensation on the finish. No peat per se, though (which is actually not traditional for the style). Iíll bet this was amazing when it was fresh, but after some cellaring Iím not sure itís improved any.

Drinkability: Whenever I see ďAnniversaryĒ on a beerís label I assume itís going to be a behemoth I have to share with a friend. And while Highland 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale is easily considered very strong at 8% ABV, it drinks like something a little lighter. The mouthfeel is thinner than I was expecting; no viscous, sticky sensation whatsoever. Little to no alcohol presence. Aftertaste is quite clean, which is surprising. On the bright side it is easy to quaff down and I had no trouble handling an entire bomber solo.

RATING: 8/10

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
WillRunForBeer (2341) - Massachusetts, USA - JUL 21, 2015
Bottle brought to me by April and Bentley. Filled 03/28/14. Pours mahoghany with a beige head. Aroma is caramel, fruity esters, mild earthy peat. Flavor follows. Brown sugar, caramel, fruity esters, miid peat. Thereís a touch of mineral in the finish.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
AirForceHops (6284) - Epping, New Hampshire, USA - JUL 21, 2015
650 ml bottle thanks to Willrunforbeer for the share! Bottom of label reads bottled 3/28/2014, ok it has sat a bit... Dark mahogany color with very thin head in the snifter. Aroma shows caramel candy, oak like notes ( even without being put in a barrel) and light peat.

Flavor has a big toffee, caramel base with roasted nuts and shows a sticky toffee mouthfeel. Very sweet finish. Thought for an anniversary beer they would have gone more bold... Still drinkable even after this amount of time in the bottle.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Mora2000 (6155) - McKinney, Texas, USA - JUN 7, 2015
Medium brown with a tan head. The aroma full of toffee and caramel with some dark fruit, brown sugar and a bit of peat. The flavor is very similar. The peat malt goes well with the sweetness from the toffee and caramel malt. There is also a bit of boozy raisin quality and some dark cherries. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Nice beer, as always, from Highland.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Itzjerm (2316) - Taft, Tennessee, USA - JAN 24, 2015
One of the best brews from Highland I have had. A nice super sweet malty tasting Scotish Ale. nice mouthfeel with a bit over carb. It would hve been awesome if they would have barrel aged this one. Nice malt forward warmness and ends with carb and creaminess.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
edgallow (3680) - nashville, Tennessee, USA - DEC 7, 2014
16 oz draft pours Amber with a off white head. Aroma of malts, caramel and spice. Taste is malts and grain.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 12/20
adnielsen (10490) - Fort Collins, Colorado, USA - OCT 18, 2014
Bottle @ home, thanks to wedgie for sending. Pours a reddish brown appearance with a light brown head. Slightly nutty, rich caramel, light bubblegum, banana, and pear in the nose with some grassy notes. Moderately high carbonation. Pretty high sweetness. Quite a bit of bubblegum and candy notes. Light smoke. Finishes a little sweet. Not bad.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
decaturstevo (5850) - decatur, Tennessee, USA - SEP 24, 2014
Deep copper pour with light tan head and lace. Aroma is sweet malty start with a flat earthy bitter. Medium bodied and fizzy. Just not what I was hoping for

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Elwood (3336) - Leesburg, Virginia, USA - SEP 21, 2014
Serving: Bottle from Bottle Revolution. Ruddy brown pour with a pillowy and lasting off white head. Pleasantly malty nose with a bit of earth and peat. Medium bodied and easy drinking. Straight forward caramel malt, dark bread, a hint of burnt malt, earthy hops, a little spice. Fairly quick finish. A very solid brew without all of the gimmicks.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
demmbonz (716) - Erin, Wisconsin, USA - SEP 16, 2014
Shared bomber to snifters. Aroma of cucumbers. Which I suppose is what theyíre going for. Flavor the same with some pepperiness and slight citrus from hops.

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