Brewery of the Year – Young Henrys

Written by
Vintage Cellars
April 2, 2019
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Young Henrys brewery is to Newtown what hops are to beer. Inseparable, indivisible, integral. Since 2012, Young Henrys has been serving the people refreshing lagers and bracing ales with its patented rock and roll attitude. From a quiet little laneway in Newtown, the team has built up a loyal craft beer-loving fan base made of rockers and revellers, jocks and fighters, good-timers and all-nighters.

Now, the beers are sold and served in hundreds, if not thousands, of Vintage Cellars stores, pubs and bars across the country. Young Henrys has banged down the door, rattled the taps and rocked the foundations of the Australian beer industry with nothing more than a good honest brew.

With five signature beers, and one delicious cider – christened with straightforward names such as Stayer Mid, Natural Lager, Cloudy Cider and the now iconic Newtowner – Young Henrys makes it easy to love your local. We sat down with founders Oscar McMahon, Richard Adamson and Dan Hampton to discuss winning the Brewery of the Year in our Best Of Awards and how the business has evolved over the years.

How do you feel about winning Vintage Cellars' Brewery of the Year?

DAN HAMPTON: Stoked! Although we've established ourselves through kegs in the pub and bar scene, a few years ago we made the call to ensure we made it as easy as possible for punters to get their home beers. To receive Brewer of the Year, considering our competitors, is killer.

So how did Young Henrys start, and where does the name come from?

DAN: About nine years ago, Oscar and Rich started a craft beer club in Glebe. One night, one of them said, “Imagine starting a beer company that was as in touch with its community as our own beer club.” A few beers later, the concept for Young Henrys was born.

OSCAR MCMAHON: The name comes from when we were en route to one of those meetings. I asked Richard, “Hey, is young Henry coming along?” Henry being Rich’s young son. It was a working title that just stuck.

What's the secret to brewing good beer?

RICHARD ADAMSON: It’s pretty straightforward, I reckon. It’s important to brew the type of beer you love to drink. Obviously, quality ingredients combined with a solid repeatable process are crucial, too. We’re lucky to have a dedicated team of brewers with a passion to brew better beer every time. We take the responsibility of brewing good beer very seriously.

What's changed since Young Henrys first started in 2012?

OSCAR: At the start of 2013, we had sold about 400,000 litres of beer, which we brewed in our tiny 1200-litre brewhouse. It was crazy. We had a team of five full-timers absolutely hustling every single day to brew, keg, sell, deliver and serve beer at our homemade, haphazard tasting bar. We're now selling about 7 million litres of beer a year with a team of a little over 80 dedicated, true believers, based all over Australia. Today, our beer is of a much higher quality and consistency than it was in the early days. Young Henrys is hell-bent on constantly improving our beers and ourselves, too.

RICHARD: We were the first brewery to set up in Sydney’s inner west, which meant the authorities had no idea how to handle us. Fortunately, though, we had huge support from the locals, who helped us get through it all. It's amazing how beer has this way of bringing people together.

How important is the local community of Newtown to Young Henrys?

OSCAR: Our home is as important to us as your home is important to you. We're proud of it. We defend it. Newtown is an incredible little melting pot of culture and creativity, which we are proud to be a part of and celebrate at any opportunity.

What are Young Henrys' three most popular beers?

DAN: The Newtowner Pale Ale, the Natural Lager and our latest addition to the Young Henrys family, the Stayer Mid, are our most popular beers. Newtowner is the perfect Aussie session beer. It has great hop aroma, it’s well balanced with bitterness and body, and looks awesome in a schooner! Our Natural Lager was one of the first beers we made, at a time when the majority of craft beers were ales. Seven years on and it’s our second most popular beer. It's the gateway beer for those sick of the mainstream stuff. Stayer is a mid-strength brew with full-on flavour.

And what is your absolute favourite Young Henrys beer to drink?

OSCAR: Newtowner, for sure.

RICHARD: I can’t go past our Natural Lager.

DAN: I’m a huge fan of our Stayer Mid. It’s a cracker.