Solar power on tap

At the heart of it, you need four main ingredients to make beer. Barley, hops, water and yeast all combine to create the beloved beverage but a Sydney-based brewery is adding one more unusual element.

Thanks to City of Sydney grant funding, Young Henrys Brewery will help community group Pingala purchase and install solar photovoltaic panels at the Young Henrys Brewery site.

Pingala is committed to advancing a renewable energy future for the city and creating a local movement away from fossil fuels.

The group will install solar photovoltaic panels at the Young Henrys Brewery site, which will generate enough electricity from the system to power the entire brewing process. It will also avoid 127 tonnes of carbon emissions a year. We had a chat to Oscar McMahon, co-founder of Young Henrys and delved into what makes Young Henrys work, and what going solar means for the business.

What’s your professional background?

Mainly bar tending and music but a brief sojourn in television post production for food shows. I spent 13 years travelling Australia and parts of the world making music, paying my way for a bit over six years of these years working behind bars.

How was Young Henrys created?

Young Henrys was born out of a beer club that Rich [co-founder] and I used to run together. Through that we saw how much people really wanted to be connected to the beer they were drinking and Young Henrys was born out of that connection. Rich was brewing for another company, and so we decided to give it a go.


(Tom Nockolds from Pingala and Oscar discuss solar panels over a beer at Young Henrys.)

To what degree is eco sustainability of importance to Young Henry’s?

Sustainable practices should always be taken wherever possible, and that’s the opinion of all of us here. We strive really hard to take responsibility for our impact in the world, and we feel like that’s an important value to a lot of our community too. For example, to get our refillable 2 litre growlers up and running, it was far more expensive than to start filling 330ml bottles, but in the long run, the positive environmental impact of that program far outweighs the cost of setting it up. For us we thought people reusing rather than recycling was well worth the expenditure.

We’ve also just gone through a brewery upgrade and installed more efficient measures and equipment. It’s just simple stuff that makes sense to us. We’re not doing anything crazy, we’re just try to do our bit.

What were your first thoughts when approached by Pingala to collaborate?

Initially it sounded like a really cool idea and something our community would really get behind. Although it also sounded like it would be expensive and a lot of work but the guys from Pingala are so professional and passionate, they have really pushed to make the dream a reality.

What we found most exciting about the project was that it puts the power of change toward green energy into the hands of people and businesses. It’s creating a little mini industry in our community of people investing in solar and taking back the control of where their energy comes from. Essentially this program makes it possible for anyone to invest in solar energy, taking the barrier of expense out of the equation. This would have been a lot more difficult to do without the legends at Pingala, and we really hope that more businesses put up their hands and give up their roofs.