Highland Brewing Company

Highland Brewing Company—The original Asheville brewery is still one of the best bets in town
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

A wide selection of delicious beers, a relaxed tap room, and a unique event space are the highlights of this Asheville mainstay. Highland Brewing Company is Asheville’s original craft brewery, and it’s still a fine place to enjoy a beer or take a tour of the facilities.

- The SmokyMountains.com Local Expert Team

The craft beer scene is Asheville has become very competitive in the last several years, so when a brewery has been around as long as Highland Brewing Company has and still inspires devotion among the locals, you know they must be doing something right.

Highland Brewing Company can actually lay claim to being the first brewery to operate in Asheville after the end of prohibition, as they opened in 1994. For over 20 years they’ve been locally owned and serving up a variety of excellent brews to beer-crazy locals and the many thirsty tourists who come through town.

Highland Brewing Company features a full range of different beer styles so there’s something to please everyone’s palate. They offer several beers that are always available year-round, whether in their tap room or in select bars and stores in the region.

Some of the most popular year-round beers include:

Gaelic Ale
This is their flagship beer, and it’s a complex amber ale that’s well worth checking out

Black Mocha Stout
A serious stout with serious flavor, this full-bodied beer brings plenty of roasted chocolate and coffee notes

Highland Pilsner
It’s a wonderful expression of the classic style that is dry, crisp, and nicely balanced with hop flavor

Mandarina IPA
IPA fans who love citrus-forward examples will go crazy over this option, which is incredibly aromatic and fresh

In addition to the year-round brews, Highland Brewing Company also rotates out several seasonal offerings, and from time to time they introduce some small-batch styles as well.

The Thunderstruck Coffee Porter is a must-try if you visit the tap room during the winter availability season, because it benefits from rich coffee flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the malty notes of the beer. You also can’t go wrong with whatever small batch offering is in rotation, but the Brogan’s Roggen Roggenbier is something that you might not have tried before. It’s a German malty rye ale that pairs delicate flavors of banana with potent spices.

The tap room at Highland Brewing Company is home to a fun and casual atmosphere; perfect for sharing a few beers and some great conversation with your friends, or making new ones while you’re there. There’s also a dog-friendly roof top bar open during nice weather. The bartenders love talking beer with anyone and everyone, so feel free to ask them for guidance no matter what your level of beer expertise is. They can create a flight for you based on your tastes, or you can customize your own flight as well.

The staff also offers in-depth brewery tours so you can see how these fantastic beers are made. They’ll teach you a little bit about the history of brewing in Asheville and the Appalachian region, as well as how Scottish flavors and traditions influence their beers. Spaces for the brewery tours can be reserved directly on their website, and the tours sometimes fill up on busy days.

All in all, Highland Brewing company offers almost everything you could want in a craft brewery: a diverse selection of quality brews, knowledgeable staff, and a welcoming environment to sip on some beers. There may be a lot of breweries in Asheville now vying for your attention, but Highland Brewing Company still deserves a visit, just like it did in 1994.

Insider Tips:
-They offer many great events in their tap room and event space throughout the year such as live music, trivia nights, and more, so check their calendar for more details.
-Consider taking home a crowler of a favorite beer you tried. It’s just like a growler, except it’s canned to ensure optimum freshness for a longer period of time.