Highland Brewing, the craft brewery that first put Asheville on the map for delicious hand-crafted beer, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The brewery held the first of a series of special events, parties and beer releases on Saturday night to mark the milestone.
About 100 people gathered at Highland on Saturday night for a black-tie optional meet-and-greet and beer dinner. Highland teamed up with culinary teams from the Grove Park Inn and Biltmore Estate for the six-course meal. Highland’s Little Hump, Cedric’s Pale Ale, Centennial Ale, Oatmeal Porter and a new 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale were paired with some amazing food, including a confit duck and crispy sweetbreads appetizer and a pan-seared barramundi fish dish.
The guests included who’s-who of owner Oscar Wong’s long-time business partners, friends, supporters and, of course, his family. His daughter, Leah Wong, is gradually learning the ropes of the family business and shared the duties of delivering speeches and chatting up guests on Saturday night. She had just arrived in Asheville, back from Craft Brewers Conference in Denver.
The dinner was served at a group of tables set among Highland’s beer-making equipment. A cellist played for the guests during an hour-long reception before the food started arriving and guests settled in to enjoy the meal. The Wong’s clearly enjoyed the evening and expressed gratitude for the support of all over the years.
Next up is a big public party on April 19 at Highland. It’s dubbed the Plaid Party, and the public will have the chance to try four of Highland’s 20 special beers that it will brew this year in honor of its anniversary. Some details:
Twenty years has passed since we first opened our creaky basement door! We’re celebrating our anniversary with you on April 19th at the PLAID PARTY where you can get our limited edition Highland 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale. In addition to the Scotch Ale, three more beers in the series of 20 will be released that night. The series is a masterpiece of brewing delights:
Ten recipes from their archives honor the past and ten new recipes look to the future
Four beers will be brewed on the 50-barrel system and packaged in kegs and 22-ounce bottles, forming a collectible mini-series. Each of these “Big Batches” will be developed by a Highland different brewer or brewers
Sixteen beers will be kegged
Three beers are collaborations with the other most senior breweries in town: Wedge, Green Man and French Broad
With 20 beers from April to December, releases will occur every couple of weeks on average, and visitors are likely to find an anniversary brew on tap no matter what day they walk in. Beers will be revealed online, one by one, just prior to their releases.
Oscar Wong, John Lyda and John McDermott bet long on a fledgling industry. In the US, there were 537 craft breweries in 1994. Today there are around 2,800 and it’s growing fast. Since 1994, the dream of being Asheville’s hometown brewery has changed, and it hasn’t.
Click over to read the full press release. Congratulations to Oscar, Leah and the Highland gang. I can’t believe I’ve known Oscar for 20 years, having first been introduced to him through my buddy the Beer Guy, Tony Kiss, who paved the way for beer news in this town. Here’s to 20 more, y’all.
Highland put a lush layer of new sod out there by the Meadow Stage. They’ve really got it looking nice out there! Ras Alan & The Lions put on a fantastic show last Friday night and it was really well attended. I am guessing 1000 people? Outdoors they only had TWO guys serving beer this large, thirsty crowd. The pair were sharing just one cash register and they worked SO SLOOOW. Inside three ladies were working the bar, but they were crazy busy because the drink lines outside were just hopeless. I really like the outdoor stage setting. Maybe they’ll see this and double or triple the number of servers & taps.
Gaelic Ale is still my “go to” beer.