STORY BY JIM WHYTE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS CHEN
This circle starts and ends at Young Henry’s Brewery, but what happens in between is a clever and conscientious celebration of good food and great thinking.
The guys behind Young Henry’s and Old Growler are mates, so it’s no surprise that both businesses wear their sustainability on their sleeve. In their own ways both establishments have a commitment to environmental sustainability and ethical production, and a couple of Sundays ago Alex Watts (the exec chef at The Old Growler and Dish Pig’s food editor) cooked up a feast for the Young Henry’s brewers in an experiment of what he calls ‘full circle food.’
The goat used in the dish was raised on a farm in Windsor, NSW and fed on the spent grain waste from Young Henry’s brewery. Watts then braised the meat with Young Henry’s Real Ale (see full recipe below) and fed the Young Henry’s brewing team. It’s as elegant and simple as it sounds. From brewery to farm and back again – with minimal waste.
It’s as elegant and simple as it sounds.
From brewery to farm and back again – with minimal waste
Every day at the brewery there is up to a tonne of malted barley grain waste that they supply to the farm. A lot of breweries do this, but many charge for these fattening, protein-rich grains. At Young Henry’s they forego the dollar profit in favour of a more symbiotic approach. “We basically said – if you can guarantee you’ll pick it up on the day we brew it you can have it – we don’t need to capitalise on the fact that someone else could use it,” co-owner and brewer Oscar McMahon says. This sentiment is in keeping with a general ethical code at the brewery and it’s a similar story over at Old Growler’s in Woolloomooloo, where chef Alex Watts uses re-useable pine coasters, ethically raised meats, sustainably sourced seafood, and almost exclusively has Young Henry’s Natural Lager, Cloudy Cider, Hop Ale and Real Ale on draught.
With their core range Oscar says that “We wanted to create approachable craft beer, brewed naturally and with as much time as possible.” Craft beer only currently accounts for about 2% of the beer-drinking market in Australia, but Oscar hopes that Young Henry’s will bring new people to craft beer and to the range and depth of flavours such considered brewing affords. For their craftier range, Young Henry’s are bringing out a third beer in their recent “bivalve trinity.” Together with the Mother Shucka Oyster Stout and ♡ Mussel Stout is a new stout brewed with clams, aptly named Brew-Tang Clam Ain’t Nuttin’ To Shuck Wit’. For all of Young Henry’s karmic efforts and planet-healing seriousness, they’re not without a boozy sense of humour.
While both Oscar and Alex agree that it’s difficult to be an entirely green, this ‘Full Circle Feast’ is a hearty expression of creative sustainability which speaks volumes to the kind of mission both business are about: high-quality, delicious food and drink with a big nod to the environment. And thankfully, the hard work and dedication goes full circle too; you can tell it simply by the taste.