Highland Brewing to shutter its doors — just for a bit

ASHEVILLE — Asheville’s first craft brewery since Prohibition, Highland Brewing, is closing its doors Monday, Feb. 19.

But for just four days, says a news release from the brewer.

“We are unveiling of our new branding and visual identity digitally on Feb. 19, and will re-open on February 23rd with a new look in the tasting room,” said Molly McQuillan, the brewery’s marketing manager says. “We’ve been working on this project for over a year and look forward to this launch with great anticipation.”

The launch celebration will be held during normal business hours that day, from noon until 10 p.m. and will feature new small batch beers, including Highland’s very first Brett brew, as well as throw-back favorites including Little Hump, Razor Wit, and Vintage 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale. Live music will be provided by Mark Shane, Woody Wood, and All the Locals. New merchandise will be on sale and the new packaging and branding will be highlighted. Popular food trucks Smashbox and Appalachian Chic will also be on site, at 12 Old Charlotte Highway. The event is free and open to the public.

“Highland Brewing has been a pioneer in beer since my father founded the company in 1994,” said President Leah Wong Ashburn. “Over two decades, we led with beer, and in recent years, we developed our beer portfolio significantly with fresh new styles and our innovative spirit is firing. The result of the changes was that our beer and our brand were sharing different messages. I love that we are now aligning the message.  

What that means is we focused on the four things we know to be true about ourselves: authenticity, sense of place, consistently excellent beer and an inventive spirit.”

Highland’s new look will be reflected in all of its marketing, labeling, point of sale, packaging and merchandise, said McQuillan, who participated in extensive research and development work collaboratively with Austin, Texas, firm Helms Workshop which informed the project. All beers will continue to be labeled under the name “Highland Brewing Company” but will now sport imagery of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the suggestion of a pioneer’s compass and the clear messaging that Highland remains Asheville’s first craft beer.

“Our name is perfect. With it, we honor the local Scots-Irish heritage. We are also on high land – in the mountains and on a hilltop.

We believe in authenticity,” said Ashburn, who became second-generation President of the family-owned business in 2015. She was referring to the staff survey that named authenticity as a common value. “You act the same way when no one else is looking. You deliver the same level of quality every time that only you could notice. You are authentic when your actions align with your words. And when our brand aligns with our beer. This refreshed brand is who we are.”

Highland Brewing was founded in 1994 by retired engineer and entrepreneur Oscar Wong, establishing it as the pioneer of Asheville, NC’s now booming craft beer industry.