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The Daily Planet's Opinion: Congrats to Oscar Wong for setting terrific example... Craft beer pioneer given top N. civilian, Scounts' awards
Thursday, 25 May 2023 21:39

We extend our hearty congratulations to Asheville’s Oscar Wong, who recently was honored for his efforts as the city’s craft beer pioneer and for his civic contributions over the years.

Specfically, Wong, 82. received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine — the highest civilian honor that state Gov. Roy Cooper is empowered to bestow. 

On May 3, Lou Bissette, a former Asheville mayor and Wong’s long-time friend, presented the governor’s award to Wong on “Oscar’s Night,” which drew around 400 people to the Asheville Crowne Plaza Hotel. 

Also at the event, at which the Daniel Boone Council of the Boy Scouts of America held its Distinguished Citizen Award Dinner, Wong was honored by the scouts as the founder (in 1994) of Highland Brewing and the “godfather” of Asheville’s craft brewing scene. 

Perhaps topping everything was the announcement that, as of May 16, a bronze plaque commemorating Wong would be displayed at Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria at 42 Biltmore Avenue in downtown. The 28-by-28-inch plaque will hang on the front of the building, just steps award from the basement in the rear, where Highland was launched.

“While Highland has grown into a regional craft beer powerhouse, with two locations in Asheville and distribution in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Georgia, Wong has remained the same humble, generous, lovable man he was when slinging around bags of grain in Barley’s unglamerous lower level,” John Boyle, a reporter/columnist for the website, wrote recently, after the awards gala.

Also, the website wrote the following about Wong:

 “As the son of Chinese immigrants, Wong was born and raised in Jamaica, eventually moving to the U.S. to study civil engineering at Notre Dame. After a successful career in engineering, Wong in 1992 relocated with his family to the sleepy town of Asheville, North Carolina, to retire and settle down. Before Asheville was celebrated as the mecca for craft beer lovers, Wong was unassumingly brewing beer in the downtown basement of Barley’s Taproom as a post-retirement hobby. Over time, the hobby turned into a real business, and thus Highland Brewing Company was born. Years later, Wong headed to a much larger manufacturing facility in East Asheville where the brewery is headquartered today.

“When Wong founded Highland in 1994, he launched Asheville’s first craft brewery since Prohibition and unknowingly ignited a craft beer revolution across the Southeast. Fast forward to today, Asheville claims the title of “Beer City USA” with one of the highest rates of breweries per capita in the U.S. Today, Highland serves as North Carolina’s largest native brewery and has been celebrated as one of the South’s best breweries.”

To all that, we say “bravo” to Wong for his efforts and deserved success!



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