Richard Adamson: Young Henry's Brewery
Imagine a beer: the crisp aroma escaping from a popped bottle, golden hues of bubbling liquid fizzing to the top, white froth that looks so soft and delicate, it could form a pillow on the coaster as it spills over the glass.
To some, this is the image of a great weekend, or a summer’s day off by the barbecue.
For the lucky few, it’s a start to the work week.
With Australia's love of beer supported by hundreds of breweries across the nation, Young Henry's sought to create stand out suds with flavours that infused creativity with every craft brew.
Beginning with the entrepreneurial dream of founder and co-director Richard Adamson, Young Henry's was developed among a group of friends, “putting our knowledge together for about 18 months to go from the concept through to the first beer.”
What began as an eatery in Newtown that served it’s own craft beer, saw early success in the wholesale market and transformed the business into an entire production brewery with a tasting bar attached. “It’s a similar concept to a wine tasting bar, only we serve beer directly from the source” explained Richard.
Young Henrys' range includes four standard beers, one cider and one limited release brew that varies in order to fill gaps in the market. "We identified types of beers that are underrepresented and put our own twist on it, adding new flavours and ingredients you wouldn't expect to see in beer”, said Richard, adding, “people seem to really like what we brew!”.
“It’s about being truly involved in the beer culture of Australia and putting your own stamp on it rather than waiting for someone else to do it.”
Demand is so robust for the team at Young Henry’s that they’ve grown from three to 25 brewers to accommodate.
The business’s ethos strives on being genuine and reflecting its cultural inspirations, as well as engaging and involving the community. Their motto 'Serve the People' (an old Chinese communist slogan) was decided on when looking for a call to action that wasn’t too 'cheesy' and would express the social morale of the brewery. “It’s an obvious pun, but we wanted to create a brewery that was focused on building a strong community and that would reflect community values. The basis of this are music, arts and culture, which is really what inspires us.”
Young Henry's host local artists' work in situ, is currently teaming up with Oz Comic-Con and legendary artist Doug Holgate to produce ‘the most sinister brew ever known to man’ and recently collaborated creatively with Sydney’s Vivid Festival. The outdoor world music festival the team ran on the streets of Marrickville highlights as one of Richard's proudest moments:
“To turn around and see 2000 people drinking our beer was a pretty great feeling!”
In addition to staying true to their passions, Young Henrys has a strong environmental ethos that encourages people to think about the impact of their consumption. Opting for eco-friendly packaging , their 'Growler' bottles are returnable and refilled at a cheaper price, a scheme that boasts a 50% refill rate and an overall reduction of the brewery’s carbon footprint.
When it comes to attributing the success of the business, Richard highlights the vitality of common brand values in creating an unvarying sense of direction for business growth. “Where you think you’re going and where you end up is always different. You need to make sure everyone involved agrees on the same message and agrees that those values won’t be compromised” he stresses.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about the beer. If people are enjoying it, then we’re doing our job.”
Richard shares his advice as a small business owner:
Learn from you challenges
In the developing stages of his business, Richard noted the initial location site fell through which gave the founders a chance to find a broader platform on which to operate. Moving to their urban Newtown warehouses ended up doubling the business's size and opened Young Henry’s up to the public.
You’re allowed to be scared
Even with the success they’ve incurred, Richard assures that feeling out of your depth is normal. “I’d say you feel like that everyday in some way, you are afflicted by this ‘impostor syndrome’, asking yourself ‘do I know what I’m doing?’ That’s always in the back of your mind.”
When asked whether he was worried about taking the risk of starting a brewery, Richard recalled, “Of course I had to weigh up the finances," he laughs, "but actually, the risk of not doing is was greater than anything else. I just couldn’t see myself not doing it.”
“You have a vision that you need to enact, a conversation you want to be part of.”