Highland Brewing Company

About Highland Brewing Company

As the Founder of Highland, Oscar Wong claims that brewing was simply a hobby. But his unwavering love for beer, people and the community has propelled Highland Brewing Company to becoming the shining star that it is. Highland rolled out its first kegs in December 1994, using a system built almost entirely of retrofitted dairy equipment – Oscar was a civil/structural engineer in his former life. Their original brewery, a basement in downtown Asheville, could produce up to 6,500 barrels of beer per year, and until 1998, their beer was only available in kegs and hand-filled 22-oz. Bottles. In 2002, a used Krones bottling line was installed, capable of filling 7,200 12-oz. bottles per hour. However, with a growing demand that exceeded production, Highland opted temporarily to brew and bottle some of their beer at Wild Goose Brewery, in Frederick, Maryland. The long-term goal was always to once again brew all their beer locally. In 2006, Highland began operations in a larger, more efficient brewery, in east Asheville. The current facility has capacity to brew over 50,000 barrels annually with room to grow, but still fills their liter bottles by hand.

Highland understands that to live in the Western North Carolina is a give and take relationship. Their philosophy of contributing to the community, environment and lifestyle of the area is not a subtle one – giving is based on who they are at their core. Focus areas include Health & Wellness, People in Need, Natural & Cultural Resources, and Animal Welfare. Highland teams up with partners aimed at raising awareness of the rare and important ecology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. These mountains draw people to Asheville from all over the world to study their history, admire their physical beauty, and enjoy their natural resources. To retain the quality of life we enjoy at work and at play, Highland believes in contributing to their protection. Highland staff spends several days a year contributing to the local Adopt-a-Stream program. Over the years, their efforts have pulled several truckloads of trash and debris from a 3/4 mile section of the Swannanoa River. Additionally, Highland offers support to countless other non-profit and charitable organizations through initiatives in their tasting room and outside the brewery via donations.

Quick Facts

  • First legal brewery to operate in Asheville since Prohibition (founded in 1994)
  • Largest native North Carolina brewer
  • Largest family-owned brewery in the Southeast
  • Has the 3rd largest craft brewing solar array in the country, and the 13th largest BREWING solar array in the world
  • Names seasonal beers after protected features of the Southern Appalachian landscape

On December 31, 2014, 1,045 solar panels installed on Highland’s rooftop went online, providing approximately 105 kW of AC current for the brewery. Under peak conditions the system creates more power than can be used at the brewery, which is put back into the grid. Infrastructure and planning are now underway to channel rainwater from the roof and use it for greywater, irrigation, and possibly additional power production. Future plans include a CO2 recovery system, a stack condenser/heat exchanger, additional ways to recycle waste products, such as shrink wrap/banding material and an anaerobic digester, which will produce methane for boiler and heat, reduce effluent load to sewer system and reclaim water to use for general cleaning.

With growth comes change and Highland is not afraid of evolution. This is the Highland way.