Doing nothing to dispel the ‘rock-star’ image I tried to brand him with prior to Sydney Craft Beer Week, Richard Adamson is drawing a further connection between the Newtown-based brewery and the music scene.
This time his Young Henry’s brewery is working on a collaboration with experimental electronic rock band PVT.
This will be the third beer Young Henry’s have made in collaboration with musicians, a pretty striking achievement for a company that’s been operating for less than a year.
Adamson and PVT have a connection that goes back more than 10 years, since the early days of the band’s existence, when they were part of a five-piece group called Pivot. Their name change came about six years ago, after a legal challenge from a US band of the same name.
It’s a situation that bears some resemblance to Young Henry’s own well-documented story, having to change direction after having their initial development application blocked. Adamson reflects on this similarity himself.
“The timing of their name changes coincided with a change in direction for them… Similarly, we have changed from the concept of a small brewery restaurant to a production brewery with a cellar door. There are some things in life that you can’t control and you just have to adapt.”
The idea of a collaborative brew came about while Adamson shared a beer with PVT’s Richard Pike at the brewery.
“They are a difficult band to capture in a beer”, Adamson says, but through brainstorming with Pike, they noted that the band’s musical influences are largely German and English. Adamson hit on the idea of blending the brewing traditions of both countries, in what he describes as a cross between “the English Bitter and the Hefeweizen.”
“I don’t know if PVT is a democracy or a benign dictatorship,” Adamson says.
“But the idea was from Rich [Pike] and I brainstorming, and the other guys, being locals, had to do the hard yards in the brewery.”
PVT drummer Laurence Pike adds: “Richard’s great, he’s been nothing but super-enthusiastic, and driven the concept from the initial idea to the finished product. We love his beers and his approach.”
Adamson draws a strong connection between the creative processes that run through both music and brewing. He also sees parallels in the brewing partnership with Young Henry’s co-brewer and self-styled ‘gentleman-at-large’, Oscar McMahon, who also cites music as a big influence.
“Anyone who walks into our brewery will know how important music is to us. Oscar and I are both musicians so our creative approach is similar in terms of thinking of the structure of the beer as layers of flavour,” Adamson says.
On his teaming up with musicians to create beer, Adamson is suitably enthusiastic.
“I’ve found working with musicians really rewarding because, thus far, the creative process has been a lot of fun, and we have created beers we couldn’t have come up with ourselves.”
He also views the crossing of borders as an important step in building momentum for the craft beer market.
“It gets the conversation about craft beer out of the beer geek circle and into other domains. The artists do get a real kick out having their own beer.”
I ask Laurence Pike about the difference between creating a beer and creating a song.
“The results of the beer are certainly more instantaneous, and arguably delicious. Songs bring a different satisfaction, because they also can take time to develop,” he replies.
The beer in question is currently undergoing its own development and will start being poured at the same time as PVT’s new album ‘Homosapien’ is released this week. The beer will pour at PVT’s gig at the Oxford Art Factory, and will also be available at the usual Young Henry’s haunts.