By now everybody should know the saga of Young Henry’s. There’s been enough coverage in the mainstream media for everyone with a passing interest in beer to have gotten wind of it. The original site for the brewpub/restaurant on Devonshire Street in Surry Hills, near Sydney’s CBD, was part of an existing dispute between the landlord and residents of the quieter, more suburban street. The application ultimately got knocked back, and owner Richard Adamson (formerly of Baron’s Brewing) has moved the whole operation to the inner west suburb of Newtown. Although the process set the opening date back a good seven months, final approval is in the hands of the local council, and beer production set to start in the brewhouse this week.
The next chapter of the saga is about to be written.
Unlike most historical sagas, according to Adamson, his trials have fed into a more positive story, with the move to Newtown having many advantages; two of his brewery staff are Newtown locals, while he himself lives a short bike ride away. More crucially, there has been none of the antipathy from local residents that they encountered at the original planned site.
“All the locals have been really supportive,” Adamson says. “I think the street’s really cool, and it’s a pretty good vibe. I think it suits us better here.”
The original plan had been for a brewery/restaurant with somewhat of a fine dining atmosphere, but the plan has been altered to include a menu consisting primarily of smoked, barbecued meat. Adamson explains that the original concept has undergone quite a lot of evolution, in part because of the move, but also just the general evolution of an idea from conception to implementation.
“I think when we were first planning, fine dining was more the sort of vision we had,” he says.
“But the more I thought about it, I thought well, it doesn’t matter what walk of life you’re from, everyone loves beer and barbecue. It’s a great social leveller.”
The concept of barbecued meat, and supportive locals, takes on an interesting twist when you notice that across the industrial compound from Young Henry’s is a yoga studio housing a vegan cafe; not the immediate logical choice for a good neighbourly relationship, but Adamson states there has been no animosity between them.
“We’re sort of the yin to their yang,” he says. He is upbeat when he explains that there have been discussions of the differences in their outlooks, but ultimately there is no objection.
All things going to plan, Young Henry’s will begin selling their beer within three weeks. To begin with, the beer will be sold in a couple of forms: through 2-litre Growlers on site, and kegs to be distributed to various local venues. At this stage, Adamson is intending to keep the operation local, but if there is interest, there may be plans to expand beer distribution interstate and beyond.
There is plenty of beer choice on the way to keep punters interested. When the bar is properly set up to serve patrons, Young Henry’s will have eight beers pouring at any one time, including two hand-pumped beers. There are plans for four regular pours – a natural Kellerbier-style lager, a ‘real’ English ale, and a darker beer that will alternate between a brown ale and a heavier stout for the Winter months, as well as a cloudy English-style cider.
Adamson says the name, Young Henry’s – which is named for his first son – is appropriate: Henry being a fairly traditional name, and their philosophy being to do fresh, new spins on traditional styles.
Aside from the regular range, Young Henry’s plans to make room for a range of seasonal beers – including a ginger beer, witbier and Vienna lager – plus two ‘guest’ beers from other brewers, and what Adamson is currently calling their ‘beer geek’ range, where they plan to experiment with more extreme beer styles. It’s enough to make a beer enthusiast salivate in anticipation.
Located as they are just a five-minute walk from the famous Enmore theatre, Young Henry’s really seems to have landed on its feet. In the middle of one of Sydney’s most frequented suburbs, close to public transport, shops and restaurants, the environment seems ripe for a lot of commercial interest in the bar and restaurant, and for enjoying the beer that they will be producing.
For now, there is merely the matter of waiting for the natural turnover period for beer production, and the slightly longer, more bureaucratic waiting period before they can open for a sit-and-drink experience. After that we can wait and watch for the next chapter to be written in the saga of Young Henry’s, and an exciting new chapter to open in Sydney’s beer history.