The tale of Young Henrys could be considered one of serendipity. Originally mooted for Sydney's über-trendy suburb of Surry Hills, the brewery's establishment there was scuppered by council bureaucracy and resident objection. Eventually though, a new site was found, this one in the rather more diverse suburb of Newtown. Consent was gained, tanks were installed, the beer began to flow and it's safe to say they've never looked back. In fact, it's now difficult to imagine that Young Henrys could have ever existed anywhere else.
From the outside it could easily seem that the little patch where Young Henrys now resides isn't so much a brewery as some sort of permanent beer festival. It certainly attracts the right crowd; musicians, artists, environmentalists, chefs, poets, activists and free spirits - just about anyone with anything interesting to say or do seems to be summoned here as if by some giant, invisible beer magnet.
This was achieved, initially at least, simply by putting out good quality, locally-made beer that the community was proud to call its own; beer with simple and unambiguous names like Real Ale, Hop Ale and Natural Lager. But once a bit of a following was established, things took a more interesting turn. For example, where most brewers usually work with other brewers when collaborating on a beer, Young Henrys tends to get busy brewing with famous bands, magazines, chefs and radio stations. That rock n roll attitude is worn proudly at the brewery; the persian rug on the tasting room floor was donated by an ARIA award-winning rock band (after they'd help brew a beer, of course), electric guitars adorn the wall and the big old amplifiers blast out every genre of music you could imagine.
Walking into the brewery you instantly pick up a certain vibe, one that causes you to adjust your immediate plans so you can spend a bit more time kicking back at the bar with a fresh pint and watch the brewers in action. And if said brewers aren't knee-deep in spent grain in the much-expanded brewery, they're always happy to have a chat or give you a tour of how the beer is made.
While you can't really stay all day because there's no food available on site (though on special occasions they have been known to drive a food truck right into the brewery), when you do leave chances are you'll be lugging one of their famous 2 litre growlers with you back towards King Street.
You may also find yourself leaving with a bottle of gin in hand. In 2014, Young Henrys launched their own distillery: their Noble Cut Gin is made with native lemon myrtle and pepperberry, and even Tassie hops as one of the botanicals that flavours the spirit. When they snagged a Gold with Noble Cut at the 2020 San Fransisco Spirit Awards, neither Young Henrys nor head distiller Carla Daunton made a huge deal; rather than resting on their laurels, they got straight to releasing single batch variations on Noble Cut, including a batch aged in an ex-rye whiskey barrel and the 55 percent ABV gentle giant aptly named “Newtown Strength”.
Whether it's a product of its location, an idea that landed in the right place at the right time or a little of both, Young Henrys is a brewery that has become integrated with its local community like few others. In that way, it is the embodiment of what a small brewery should be; one that makes damn good beer, gets local people interested and has a hell of a lot of fun doing it.