Highland Brewing Co.
in Asheville, North Carolina by Edwin Arnaudin
Highland Brewing Co., Asheville’s beer-making pioneer, remains a
leading figure in the local industry as it gradually expands its
presence throughout the eastern U.S.
In 1994, co-founders Oscar Wong and John McDermott began brewing on
repurposed dairy equipment and hand-bottling their flagship Gaelic
Ale in the basement of Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria in the heart of
the then not-so-happening downtown.
As Asheville grew, so did Highland, rolling out the area's first
mix-pack (the 12-bottle, four-variety Mountain Medley) before moving
to its own facility atop a picturesque hill in East Asheville in
Part of the original core four brews with Oatmeal Porter, St.
Terese’s Pale Ale and Black Mocha Stout, Gaelic Ale remains one of
the most dependable beers in western North Carolina, if not the
entire state, region and nation, while cult favorite Cold Mountain
Winter Ale continues to draw passionate crowds each holiday season
for the ever-evolving brewery.
Stephenson, formerly of Stone Brewing Co., as brewmaster is one of
many indicators that Highland refuses to rest on its legacy and is
dedicated to ongoing innovation. The number of taproom-exclusive
small batches have grown exponentially since Stephenson’s 2015
hiring and more year-round beers (including three IPAs and a
pilsner) have been added, including a few in cans. She also used her
goodwill with her former employer to host an Arrogant Bastard Hits
the Road guest brewing, producing a version of the celebrated ale
even tastier than what Stone ships across the country.
The generous, diverse daily beer list may be enjoyed in the spacious
taproom or on the newly completed rooftop bar, which provides 360
degree views of the surrounding mountains. A different food truck is
on site each day and free live music is available most nights.