Highland Brewing Founder, Oscar Wong

Asheville, NC – Oscar Wong founded Highland Brewing Company in 1994 and kicked off the craft beer movement in Asheville, NC. Today, the city claims the title of “Beer City USA” and ranks second after Portland, ME in the largest number of breweries per capita1. Highland Brewing and the Brewers Association are pleased to announce that Wong is the recipient of this year’s Brewers Association Recognition Award for “individuals whose inspiration, enthusiasm and support have contributed to the craft brewing movement.”

“Oscar served as a spark that ignited the Asheville craft brewing scene and dozens of other brewers have followed the path he blazed in Asheville,” said Paul Gatza, SVP of the Brewers Association’s professional brewing division. “The Brewers Association is proud to honor him with this award and recognize his contributions to the U.S. craft brewing community.”

In the 26 years since Wong founded Asheville’s first craft brewery, Highland has become the largest native brewery in North Carolina with distribution across the Southeast. In 2015, Wong passed the leadership of the company to his daughter, Leah Wong Ashburn. Ashburn now serves as Highland’s president/CEO and second-generation family owner.

“My father always aspired to do something important rather than to be someone important, so this honor is deeply touching,” Ashburn said. “He inspired a craft beer movement in a town where there was none, his enthusiasm is infectious, and he has been and still is a confidante to so many, from fellow brewery owners to community leaders. There wasn’t a dry eye on the video call when I shared this announcement with the staff, including his own. We are so happy for him and proud of him.”

Wong is the 34th person to receive this honor from the Brewers Association. Other notable Recognition awardees include Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada, Kim Jordan of New Belgium, and Michael Jackson, celebrated beer writer.

Asked if he had any advice for the next generation of brewers, Wong said, “Focus on quality, be flexible in operations, know your customer, and watch the debt!” To read the announcement from the Brewers Association, follow this link. For more information on Highland Brewing, visit www.highlandbrewing.com.