Highland Brewing Company rolled out its first kegs in December 1994. Built almost entirely of retrofitted dairy equipment, our original brewery in downtown Asheville could produce up to 6,500 barrels of beer per year. At the new location we now have capacity to brew over 50,000 barrels annually with room to grow. Until 1998, our beer was available only in kegs and hand-filled 22-oz. bottles. (We still fill our liter bottles by hand today.) That year, we added a four-head bottling machine which enabled us to start packaging in 12-oz. bottles. In 2002, a used Krones bottling line was installed, capable of filling 7,200 12-oz. bottles per hour. Although we brewed twice daily, four days per week, the demand for our beer continued to exceed supply.
After evaluating short-term options for increasing production, we opted temporarily to brew and bottle some of our beer using the facilities of Wild Goose Brewery in Frederick, Maryland. Our long-term goal was to once again brew all our beer locally, and in October 2006, we were thrilled to begin operations in our larger, more efficient brewery in east Asheville. We brew four times a day, five days per week on a 50-bbl brewhouse. Our cellar has 24 fermenters, mostly 200bbls in size, and growing. We can bottle up to 320 bottles per minute, averaging 800 cases per hour. Our bottling line is a new, state-of-the-art 2015 KHS 48-valve rotary machine. Our can line is a 2008 Vimercati 14-valve rotary canner with the capability of 70 cans per minute.
It wasn't until October 2010 when Highland opened its Tasting Room for people to drop in, sample tasty brews, and hang out with our staff. The Tasting Room is open to the public Monday-Sunday, offering food & live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Next to the Tasting Room, we installed our brewers' favorite toy...the 3-barrel pilot system. Here, they get to try out new recipes for fun or for future large scale brews. Thunderstruck Coffee Porter was born in the pilot system room and was so loved, we had to let it graduate to a seasonal! We may have one or several pilot brews on tap on any given day. They're always changing and it's always fun to try beer only available for a short time, and only at Highland.
In Summer 2011, we built an outdoor stage in the meadow adjacent to the brewery. In 2012, we built a bigger stage, added an outdoor bar (in a repurposed shipping container, to match our offices), and improved our deck with a stone wall, landscaping and hop vines.
In 2016 the view changed. We cut the ribbon on a rooftop bar that accommodates 300 people, and can be reserved for private events. We host weddings, rehearsals and corporate events. When not reserved, the rooftop is open to guests who are over 21.
Below, the indoor Event Center welcomes over 700 people and is complete with stage, mezzanine, two bars, catering kitchen, and elevator. For more details on the new guest areas, please visit https://www.highlandbrewing.com/ashevilleeventcenter.
The property and the brewery continue to evolve - please visit us to see what's new!