Bad Shepherd Brewing Co
Posted on January 19 2021
We have a chat to Dereck Hales, one half of the Bad Shepherd Brewing Co.
Tell us about your journey to launching your own brewery?
My wife Diti and I both worked for approximately 15 years in varying large business corporate jobs. I held various finance, marketing and strategy roles at Kraft/Mondelez International whilst Diti worked in Organizational Development and Corporate Communications at Kraft/Mondelez International (yes – a hallway romance) and Origin Energy.
We both had an itch to do our own thing one day but nothing really every emerged enough to make the jump to be entrepreneurs. In the early 2010’s I embarked on a homebrewing journey and discovered a love for all things craft beer. I found I had quite the knack for developing recipes that fared well in competitions. Diti had a passion for barbeque and we both felt there was an untapped market for brewpubs in Melbourne that could combine our interests. I spent 2 years brewing part time at Mornington Peninsula Brewery to learn how to brew on a professional scale whilst also completing technical learning with the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and Siebel Institute of Technology.
We pulled together a business plan, engaged some local supporters, and went on a search for the right location. After over a year of looking we stumbled across our current location in Cheltenham whilst dropping off a car for service and voila – we were ready to go!! After 18 months of onsite development we opened our doors in November 2015 and haven’t looked back!
What do you brew?
We brew 9 core beers across a breadth of styles including pale ales, lagers, IPA’s, sours and dark beers.
Our most famous products include:
1. our Victoria Pale Ale brewed with all Victorian ingredients including a yeast isolated in 1889 in Ballarat,
2. Peanut Butter Porter – a luscious nutty peanut buttery roasty ale
3. Hazelnut Brown brewed with hazelnuts and Frangelico
4. Hazy IPA – a smooth rich IPA loaded with tropical hops
5. Passionfruit Sour – a tart sour beer brewed with over 300kg of passionfruit puree
We brew heaps of limited release beers too. This includes an IPA series where we launch a new IPA style every 3 months and a Brew Crew Series where our staff members get the chance to make their own beer. The Brew Crew Series has resulted in all sorts of interesting beers as far ranging as a Sticky Date Stout, a Rose & Hibiscus Gose and a purple Brut IPA unicorn beer!
We also launch plenty of other limited edition beers, some of which are released annually in small batches. The most famous of these has to be our Double Choc Hazelnut Brown – a higher alcohol chocolatey version of our Hazelnut Brown Ale.
Is there anything unique about your process or approach you can share?
All our beers are unpreserved, unpasteurized, unfiltered, stored cold and served fresh. Wherever possible we source all of our materials locally including our house yeast sourced from Ballarat in the 1800’s!
Is there a firm customer fave in your line up?
Has to be our Peanut Butter Porter. In the winter it’s our top seller and we’re always running out of stock. It’s a luscious creamy nutty porter that tastes like peanut butter!
Craft brewing really seems to have exploded in Australia. Why do you think this has happened?
I think it’s the same as all other food and drink trends. Consumers are becoming more and more wary of what they put in their bodies. This is leading to healthier and higher quality choices. And if you do choose to let yourself go a bit, people make sure it’s high quality! And craft beer is much more flavoursome and interesting than fizzy yellow mainstream beers! I think there’s also a significant shift to knowing who owns the product you’re buying. If it’s locally owned and made it helps the local economy and more people are more actively aware / supportive of this.
Are there any trends you think are great? Or any trends that are a bit overdone?
I love anything that reimagines style norms. If it tastes great or opens your palate I think that’s a good thing. I do get frustrated by a style emerging and everyone jumping on with a me too version. Unfortunately that’s bound to happen though.
What's your beer-spiration? (Another brewer you admire)
I love what the guys at Modus Operandi in Sydney do. Everything that comes out of there seems to be first class. I also love Wildflower in Sydney. Their farmhouse / wild styles really elevate what beer can be. It’s not for everyone as it’s really out there but if you’re willing to try something incredible and different I highly recommend it!
Other breweries that inspire me by doing great things locally including Mr Banks (amazing hazy IPA’s) and Two Bays in Dromana brewing up high quality gluten free beers.
You also have a brewpub - how or why did that come about?
We always felt that hosting people at our own place was important to our personal values and purpose. We enjoy getting to know those that choose to support us. Meeting interesting people is one of life’s greatest gifts. And we always felt that brewpubs were virtually non existent in Melbourne. We thought it’s something we can offer that was different and in serious need in the Southeast suburbs.
If you're not drinking beer, what's your other go-to beverage?
I’m a huge fan of teas. I’m not a tea expert by any stretch but I love the variety of palate experience you can achieve with tea – I suppose just like craft beer!
If you were going to pair food with your beers, what are some ideal matches?
Passionfruit Sour with seafood – I just did this last night!
Victoria Pale Ale with pizza or pasta – a natural fit Hazy
IPA with a big juicy steak – the bitter hops cut through the steak flavour beautifully
Peanut Butter Porter with a spicy Indian curry – it acts a lot like a Mango Lassi to contrast against the spices with sweetness.
What's your vision for Bad Shepherd over the next five years?
First & foremost - a healthy happy purposeful team. The people of Bad Shepherd make this business and if we can continue to develop great people we’ll keep making great beer. We hope to continue to grow to the point that we can serve up Bad Shepherd nationally and possibly even internationally. Ideally we have the chance to open another place or two to serve the beers to people too. I love a yarn with good people…