Jul 20, 2015

Highland Brewing King MacAlpin Double IPA

North Caroline’s Highland Brewing has just recently started putting in a new bottling line (if not already completed). They’re in the process of building an event center. And now, this July, they’ve announced a new line of brews billed as “high gravity, with bold aromas and flavors.” The first of the Warrior Series goes by the name of King MacAlpin Double IPA — and it hits all three of those previously quoted descriptors.

King MacAlpin is brewed in a west coast fashion with plenty of Centennial, Amarillo, Chinook and Simcoe hop varieties in its 10% ABV and 90 IBU depths. And as expected it is a big beer, but also one that is surprisingly (and deceptively) smooth. With plenty of fruity hop character, malt sweetness and a bitterness that is much more tame than its IBU hints, the beer is, as the brewery describes, “balanced in its extremes.”


King MacAlpin pours a nice looking golden amber in color with a dense cap of light beige foam that fell gently to a thin surface cover.

Highland Brewing MacAlpin Double IPA photo


A generous amount of citrus fruit (grapefruit, tangerine), pin, a touch of melon and soft grain all combine for an excellent aroma.


At 90 IBU, I was expecting a stronger hop bite, but as stated above, it’s fairly even tempered, balanced against a moderate malt sweetness. The bite is there — don’t be fooled — as it builds slowly toward the lasting, satisfying finish. It’s just not a palate wrecker. Pine, grapefruit, orange and a touch of lemon combine with light bread notes and a hint of caramel for a full flavored and tasty brew. As expected, there is a touch of alcohol warmth that warms the chest softly.


I’ve only had a few of Highland’s products over the years, but I have had more than my fair share of double/imperials IPAs and this is a good one. It doesn’t fall victim to the usual trappings of too much sweetness or one-dimensional hop bomb favors. King MacAlpin is darn tasty and deceptively smooth for such a big beer. The brewery has kicked off their new Warrior Series in excellent fashion with this beer — I’m eagerly awaiting the opportunity to check out the chocolate milk stout that is set for the line’s next release.

Rating: 4/5

This is a review of a promotional sample.

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