We first crossed paths with Dereck Hales when he was a giddily excited guest at a beer event featuring Mikkeller and some of Australia's best brewers that we were hosting for Melbourne Food & Wine Festival on the banks of the Yarra*. He was home brewing at the time, creating beers he now says were "REALLY ordinary".
Looking back almost five years on, he appreciates that was the year his brewing started to take a turn for the better – by the end of 2011 he had collected awards for the first beers he entered into the Vicbrew competition. That success was merely the start, with Dereck going on to take out champion titles and, as a result, getting to brew commercial batches of his beer, including one for a GABS.
At the same time, he's been a great help to The Crafty Pint, lending his strategic and marketing smarts to us when working on concepts such as Craft Beer Rising and The Crafty Cabal, and, most recently, joining the Good Beer Week team before the 2015 festival.
Now, having left the corporate world behind, along with wife Diti he has opened Bad Shepherd, a brewpub in Cheltenham at which Wolf of the Willows is also brewing. The couple has welcomed big crowds from the off, attracted by a mix of Dereck's beers (we've tried a few and been particularly impressed by the Hazelnut Brown and his "baby", the Pale Ale he's brewed countless times at home) and American-inspired BBQ comfort food.
They featured in the article we wrote on the explosion of craft brewing in Melbourne's southeast last week and now are back to tell us more in our final Who Brews? of the year.
Brewery name: Bad Shepherd Brewing Co
Who are you?
Dereck Hales, head brewer and managing director, and Diti Hales, general manager.
The brainchild of husband and wife team, Dereck and Diti Hales (pictured below), our brewpub is all about tempting you with fine craft beer and complementing that with a menu heaving with smoked meat delicacies and good ol’ fashioned comfort food.
Where do you brew?
At our brewpub home at 386 Reserve Road, Cheltenham, Victoria.
Why do you brew?
We’re here to make beer that is tasty, interesting and fulfilling. Whether at our brewery or through our bottles in people’s homes, we’re here to make things better. That’s the way beer should be.
The best part is having people try it, enjoy it, discuss it, compare it, and then come back and do it all over again. We love that we’re creating memories for people and helping them explore the world of craft beer.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
After some failed, terrible attempts at brewing from a home brew kit, Dereck was on the cusp of throwing it out. Determined to make a better brew, he persevered with the help of online forums and lots of study and entered the new brews into a competition.
All that hard work paid off as the beers won. Not to mention Dereck loved the beers himself! He had the bug and it just grew from there.
What beers have you released to date?
We currently have four beers in our core range:
- American Pale Ale
- California Lager: our take on a 19th century classic California gold rush Steam Beer
- Hazelnut Brown: made with hazelnuts, hazelnut extract and vanilla
- Tiny IPA: a 3.5 percent ABV mid-strength IPA heavily hopped with all Aussie hops
We’ll also be launching a few seasonals.
The first to hit our taps before Christmas is our Raspberry Wheat Ale, fermented with 150kg of raspberry puree!
Where can people find your beers?
Our brews are currently available on tap and in bottles at our brewpub. Demand has exceeded our expectations so our short term focus is on maintaining supply at our premises.
We’re aiming to launch into wholesale by early February with a focus on bottleshops and venues in the southeastern suburbs within our local community, so stay tuned!
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
When we first conceived the concept for our brewpub one thing was clear – we wanted to create an experience for our customers that reflected how we entertain with our friends at home; that is, indulging our guests with flavoursome beer, plenty of comfort food and BBQ.
“But that’s not very healthy,” a friend commented.
To which we replied: “We’re like that Bad Shepherd, leading you into temptation.”
And that’s how the name was born. We sell what we love, and we love beer and BBQ. We don’t ever want to pretend we are something we’re not and we’re here to tempt you with that.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Too many to list but some highlights include:
Westvleteren XII, Firestone Walker Sucaba, Russian River Supplication, Crooked Stave Nightmare on Brett, Hair of the Dog Fred from the Wood, Kaiju! Betelgeuse, Wolf of the Willows Johnny Smoke Porter and a heap of Bad Shepherd Hazelnut Brown.
Which beers are found in your fridge most frequently?
Always our own Hazelnut Brown and Pale Ale. Otherwise it rotates a lot but Chimay Blue is always replaced once finished... you can never have enough Chimay Blue!
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
We’d love to be the local favourite for the Bayside suburbians – both at our brewpub and in local bottleshops, pubs and restaurants.
Thanks, folks. Good luck not running out of beer over summer!
You can keep tabs with all things Bad Shepherd via their Facebook page.
* It's worth clicking on that link to see what beers were on the lineup at those two events. Little wonder Dereck was giddy at the Saturday afternoon session, especially as Diti had had to relinquish her tickets at the last minute due to illness meaning he got her beers too...