Like most good stories, ours started over a beer.
Meeting on opposite sides of the bar, Richard Adamson and Oscar McMahon got talking. It turned out they both shared a love of beer and a view that the Sydney beer scene was behind the times. It should, they thought, be more adventurous, innovative and fun. Since Richard knew how to brew and Oscar knew all the ins and outs of hospitality, they figured they could do more than just talk.
The idea to open a brewery was easy. Doing it wasn’t. At the time, few people understood the concept of hand crafted beer so several development applications were rejected. But in 2012 the green light was given for an industrial warehouse space in Newtown. With the help of a few friends, a small brewing kit was purchased and Young Henrys was officially in business.
The first Young Henrys beers were brewed in March 2012. The idea behind them was pretty simple: brew beer our local community would enjoy and be proud to call their own. Not much has changed since. The same beers that poured back then are the same ones you’ll find at our brewery now.
It turned out that people liked our beer. A lot. Within months we were struggling to meet demand. Doing everything by hand, we worked seven days a week but we couldn’t keep up. More tanks were brought in but that still didn’t help. So we took the warehouse next door, knocked down the wall and built a brewery big enough to ensure no one will go thirsty again. We hope!
A big part of our brewing philosophy is built on keeping things local and reducing our environmental impact. Most of our beer is sold within a few suburbs of the brewery and we encourage the use of refillable glass growlers which can be used over and over again, reducing waste. And when you get a growler filled at the brewery, you know the beer you’re getting is as fresh as it gets.
Our packaged beer now mainly comes in cans. They’re better for beer quality than bottles, better for the environment and, because they’re lighter, it takes less energy to transport them (on a truck or in your bag). And back at the beginning of the brewing process, each day more than a tonne of spent grain from our brewery gets donated to a local farm where it’s eaten by some very happy cattle.
We’re open to working with anyone that shares our pride, care and passion for what they produce, whether that’s music, art, food or anything else. We’ve been fortunate to host some truly amazing and talented people at our brewery to share ideas and brew beers. The resulting collaborations have been on stage for national music tours, downed at global festivals, behind the curtain at theatre companies, served at restaurants, back in time with an historical society, live on the air at radio stations, written in print and made permanent in artworks.
Young Henrys may have grown quickly but we’re still the same as we’ve always been, still doing everything by hand. The main difference is that we’ve got a bigger family now, so we have a few more hands to help.
When the Newtown brewery was expanded we took the opportunity to install a brand new distillery, crafted for us by an 8th generation moonshiner from Tennessee. It’s beautiful and state-of-the-art, which is fitting because we reckon distilling, like brewing, is a beautiful art. Young Henrys now produces our own high quality, small batch, handcrafted spirits using uniquely Australian ingredients.