Set back behind the iconic Young Husband Limited stock building, and at the unglamorous end of an industrial suburban backstreet, the Henry St Brewhouse isn't much larger than your inner city apartment.
Born in a backyard just a few blocks away on actual Henry Street, owners Paul Quayle and Zach Skerritt had never planned to open a brewery — so if their 100-litre DIY all-grain brewing system looks a bit like an upscaled homebrew setup, then that's because it is.
Neither Quayle nor Skerritt had a background in brewing or hospitality. The two engineers grew tired of homebrewing from canned kits and partial mashes and looked to all-grain as a better way to brew. Skerritt began to research how the pair might one day open a brewery, but it wasn't until the 2013 edition of Good Beer Week that the question of how became a matter of when.
Without a large cash backing the pair, with the help of their families and friends, largely pieced the brewery together themselves. "The planning permit itself took six months and during that time you're paying rent on the place. I was living in the corner for seven months, over winter and stuff, because I couldn't afford to pay rent at my house and the brewery," says Skerritt. They began opening the bar in January 2016 and Skerritt quit his job to work on the brewery full-time in April.
Now, with a rotating selection of ten taps including a co-op porter with near neighbours Rumble Coffee Roasters, and with their brews popping up in restaurants, offices and bars around Melbourne, Henry St is growing. At the moment the bar is only open on Friday nights (and on Saturday occasionally), but the pair is hoping to extend their opening hours and upgrade to a larger brewing system soon.
Amongst the glut of gentrification and hipster noir bar offerings that saturates Melbourne's food and drink scene, Henry St's brand of 'brewed next door' is refreshing. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own prams, dogs and food (so that the pair can focus on the brewing).
Henry St will appeal to those who yearn for the days of Mountain Goat before anyone knew what a Mountain Goat was, and certainly before anyone was drinking it. Their DIY philosophy and isolation may make them humble, but in this comes the appeal of this pint-sized nano-brewery and bar in Kensington. The beer is pretty damn good too.