Beer has long been my favorite beverage. I was brought up in a home where beer was enjoyed and often paired with food. I brewed beer with classmates in graduate school, then took a 26-year break to use my engineering education before returning to active brewing with Highland.
It was serendipitous that a mutual friend introduced me to an award-winning craft brewer who wished to start a small independent craft brewery in Asheville, NC. My wife and I had a mountain home in the area, and after two years of being underfoot at home, Anna was eager to have me occupied. At the time, I believed the future of U.S. craft beer would be the European model in which local favorites occurred in every town. We have witnessed the craft brew industry become so much more.
UNC -TV’s Interview with Oscar Wong
With a passion for local, artisanal, fresh brewed beer, I founded Highland Brewing Company in April 1994. Our goal was to provide our customers flavorful beers of the highest quality. Over the years, we have continued our quest for excellence in our craft brews; and have strived to earn the respect of our community by strongly supporting local charitable, environmental, and cultural agencies with donations of time, funds and our beer.
Starting out with used dairy equipment in the basement of a historic building in downtown Asheville, we pleaded with distributors to handle our craft beers. I had decided to concentrate on brewing and packaging, while leaving distribution to the experts. This approach, while slow, has given us a broader range of growth in an industry that celebrates the joys in life. I have met a range of exceptional people I count as friends, and expect to meet many more while pursuing my passion—craft brewed artisanal beers.
The business has operated on three principles: quality, integrity and respect. At Highland, we measure ourselves against these principles in everything we do. Many are puzzled about respect as a principle, but we believe respect for ourselves, each other, and our environment is a key element so often missing in our fast-paced world. The business of artisanal beers inspires me because it covers such a wide range of human accomplishment, societal needs and personal development.