If you line up all of the events from this year’s Sydney Craft Beer Week schedule against a wall and threw one solitary dart, the odds are pretty good that the dart would land on an event that involves Young Henry’s in some way. Only a few months since commencing beer production, the Newtown-based brewery helmed by Richard Adamson is stepping out in a big way during SCBW in October, and the calendar of events is all the richer for it.
To make a detailed list of all the events that Adamson has scheduled would take up the whole space of this article, so in brief, they are hosting an Open Day on the first day, a Brewery Banquet with Hartsyard Restaurant, a Brewer’s Dinner at Bloodwood Restaurant, a House Party at the Union Hotel, plus an all-week tap takeover at the Royal Albert Hotel, a one-night takeover of the Little Guy bar in Glebe, and two launches of beers brewed in collaboration with Doctors Orders Brewing and Two Birds Brewing respectively. *Long pause to catch breath*
Given the week-long festival is likely to be the biggest beer event in Sydney this year, Adamson can be excused for milking this golden opportunity for exposure, given that he’s running a young start-up company. Talking to Adamson, though, he insists that his involvement has little to do with marketing, and more to do with the beer.
“I think the motivation was that it was Sydney Craft Beer Week,” he says.
“We’re kind of sick of Melbourne taking all the kudos. The first year [of Sydney Craft Beer Week] was really embryonic, and we wanted to make a really good splash this year.”
It’s been a very long journey for Young Henry’s, with their initial application to put down roots in nearby Surry Hills blocked by local residents. Having successfully established a brewhouse at the heart of a burgeoning craft beer scene in Newtown, Adamson is making a big show of building community, and SCBW is offering him many opportunities for strengthening local ties.
The brewery Open Day — on the first day of SCBW — has been set up as a fundraiser for nearby community radio station FBi. Young Henry’s is splitting the profits of every keg sold with the radio station, and Adamson is hoping to get the same deal from all other venues that will sell his beer during SCBW. It’s all part of a firm collaborative relationship that the two local businesses have, with Adamson having done some volunteer work for the station in the past, and FBi in return set to provide music for the brewery open day.
Young Henry’s have also collaborated on a locally-inspired brew with FBi volunteers, the Redfern Red, which Adamson calls “a nice hoppy red beer, with an indigenous twist.”
Aside from such coöperative work, Young Henry’s is fast becoming an important part of a craft beer hub just outside the city. Newtown has long been a suburb hugely popular among the artistic and cultural communities, with independent theatres, alternative music venues and trendy restaurants just some of its proud staples. It was inevitable that the culturally explorative spirit that runs through the veins of the suburb would engender the sort of fervour ideal for craft beer sales and, while it’s been a little slow at times, Newtown is finally craft beer-friendly.
Joel Connolly, of the marketing team behind SCBW 2012, talks of Newtown becoming one of the most important craft beer areas in Sydney, and says that Young Henry’s is a pivotal part of that.
“There’s just a great local community feel to the kind of stuff that Richard’s doing,” Connolly says.
“What’s better than a group of people getting together over a beer that was made by a guy who lives down the road?”
SCBW co-founder Todd Venning is himself very excited about Adamson’s heavy involvement in the festival. He calls Adamson a “beer dynamo”, and bridles slightly at the suggestion that there is a super-saturation of Young Henry’s involvement.
“The guy’s making great beer, he’s got a great heritage. Who are we to hold back him getting involved in every single event in Craft Beer Week if he really wanted to?” Venning asks.
“If you look at everything he’s doing [during SCBW], it’s all unique in its own right and it has some great angles.”
Adamson has never been a stranger to trying new things. A pioneer of using native Australian ingredients in beer (during his time at Baron’s Brewing), his innovative approach to brewing carries over to a unique range of beer events for SCBW. Adamson is even looking forward to taking the stage during his house party to bash out a tune or two.
With the exposure and notoriety that he will gather during SCBW, there’s little doubting that Adamson is fast becoming the rock star of Sydney beer. With his tireless efforts to spread the craft beer love, his idiosyncratic brews and infectious enthusiasm, I question whether the inevitable fame will get to his head.
“No,” he laughs. “Anyone can come down and talk to us. I mean, we’re here, and we’ve got some other things planned for the rest of the year too. We’re just ramping up.”
For more details on Young Henry’s events during Sydney Craft Beer Week, visit sydneycraftbeerweek.com.