March 15th, 2012 by Crafty Pint
The Sydney suburb of Newtown is an eclectic one. Gentrification battles with counter-culture; most stores are independent and there are few chain stores open amidst the walls plastered with anti-corporate propaganda; any litter on the street belies an obvious tendency towards environmentalism; chalk drawings on the pavement point you towards an art installation, craft fair or human-rights campaign. Even the soundtrack is interesting; walking a single block you’ll be as likely to hear a street poet or a student rock band practising in a nearby warehouse as you will to hear pop music coming from a cafe.
It’s a place that’s constantly riding the wave of what’s hip and cool and if any one Sydney suburb was crying out for a craft beer of its own, it’s Newtown. Thankfully, that need is about to be fulfilled as the finishing touches are put on the brand new Young Henry’s brewery.
It almost didn’t turn out that way, however, as owner and chief brewer Richard Adamson points out: “We originally planned to open up in Surry Hills, but some local residents opposed the development. We already had the Newtown warehouse site set aside for storage so thought, ‘Why not just open up there?’
“I live a ten minute bike ride away, the other guys working here are either Newtown born-and-bred or have lived here for years. It’s turned out to be a perfect fit.”
Walking along the graffiti-lined streets to the brewery, you certainly do get the feeling that there won’t be quite the same opposition here. We’ll get to find out soon enough because the brewery is almost ready for action. Visiting the site in early March, the protective coverings were being peeled off to reveal the pristine stainless steel tanks beneath, objects were being cut and welded, electricians busily scurrying about, all manner of last minute things being done. Pretty soon the sound of power tools will give way to the happy bubbling of yeast.
“It’s just that final sprint over the finish line now” says Adamson, “we should be brewing the first batch by next week”.
As for what will be coming out of those shiny tanks, it sounds like there’ll be plenty to keep people interested all year round. Adamson reels off a rough list of what he’s already got in mind…
“We’ll probably start off with an unfiltered Keller with Aussie hops, and of course we’ll do a hoppy pale ale – to get it out of the way. Then we’ll be doing real ales for the hand pump – probably dark stuff; something lighter-tasting in the warm months and heavier for the cool weather, maybe a stout. There’ll be seasonal releases too; at the moment I’m thinking ginger beer for autumn, perhaps a Vienna lager for winter, Bock for spring, a cloudy scrumpy-style cider. And there’s the Homebrew Competition winner too.”
He’s referring to the lucky winner of their Homebrew Competition who will get to see their beer made commercially at Young Henry’s “as long as it’s scalable. If the recipe requires the addition of a ton of Saffron, you might be out of luck!”
If you’re already thinking ahead as to where you might be able to get a hold of all these beers, your best bet will be to head straight to the source. While the brewery obviously takes up most of the warehouse, there’s a dedicated space where Adamson plans to open up a bar so punters can drink direct from the brewery – in fact, the glycol system is already wired up, ready to bring the beer from the brewery to your glass at perfect drinking temperature. But until their own bar is up and running, Young Henry’s will mainly be serving local Newtown pubs and bars.
For those that prefer to drink their beer in their own company, a fancy new machine – yet to be unwrapped – will offer Growler fills that, according to Adamson, “will keep the beer fresh for a couple of months” and “fits in well with the attitude of people in the local area towards recycling”. Those slightly further afield will be pleased to know that the label design has been given the final tick of approval, meaning bottles will eventually be made available.
It’s a positive indication of the health of the local craft beer industry that Young Henry’s hasn’t even opened yet but has already been approached by other Sydney breweries wanting to take up additional tank space for contract brewing, which will in turn also be made available at the aforementioned Young Henry’s bar – a win for everyone concerned. Another extremely exciting prospect is the talk of collaborations with other brewers in the region, something which hasn’t been particularly prominent in NSW and which drinkers should look forward to with great anticipation.
Having taken the best part of two and a half years in planning, Young Henry’s is now at that exciting point where the dream is set to become reality. All the signs point to this being exactly the right time and the right place to launch.