Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

Commemorative plaque will honor patriarch of craft brewing

Oscar Wong and Leah Wong Ashburn share a toast. Oscar Wong and Leah Wong Ashburn share a toast.

Oscar Wong, founder of Highland Brewing Co. and the patriarch of the craft brewing boom in Asheville, was recently awarded he Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor granted by the governor. 

To complement this award, on May 16, a commemorative plaque honoring Wong and the birthplace of Asheville craft beer will be unveiled in downtown Asheville at Barley’s. The basement at 42 Biltmore Avenue housed Highland for over a decade.

“Oscar’s dedication and support of so many others who followed him in the craft beer industry has resulted in thousands of jobs and a new industry that has over a billion-dollar annual economic impact in Asheville,” said Dana Stonestreet, chair of HomeTrust Bank and chair of the Boy Scouts 2023 Citizen of the Year dinner, where the Long Leaf Pine award was presented. 

In 2015, Wong passed the leadership of the brewery to his daughter, Leah Wong Ashburn,  who now serves as Highland’s president/CEO.

“Dad’s charisma, wisdom and genuine interest in people are inspiring. He has always valued doing more over saying more,” Ashburn said. “He and my mom share those values. For more than 55 years, she has been by his side. I love that we can do this together.”

The public dedication of the plaque will be downtown at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 16, at the Asheville Art Museum.  The event will include proclamations by Asheville’s mayor and county commissioners. Then, all will walk down the street for the unveiling of the plaque and a celebration at Barley’s with Highland beers.