When Oscar Wong founded Highland Brewing Company 18 years ago, his mission was to be “the premier brewery of the Southeast — not the largest or most profitable,” he says. “Our goals are growth and development of staff, resulting in a team of motivated, innovative and productive members of the community. We include fellow workers, customers, suppliers and the region in which we live into our definition of ‘the community.’”
Wong has enjoyed great success with Highland, which is currently the largest local brewer (soon to be displaced by Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Oskar Blues). Highland runs a “50-barrel Santa Rosa brewhouse,” with an annual capacity of 35,000 barrels, though production peaked at 23,000 barrels in 2011.
Wong’s passion for personal development of staff and community is “enhanced with tasty beer.” Highland’s brews are set apart by their harmonious balance of beer’s “three main elements: malt, hops and alcohol.” The trick is to make those elements work together without one dominating the others.
Highland’s commitment to its community is reflected in its name, a “salute to the Scots Irish who first settled the area around Asheville and the Appalachians.”