Bad Sheppard brewer Dereck Hales and wife Diti have created a beer made from a rare yeast. Picture: Supplied.
Bad Sheppard brewer Dereck Hales and wife Diti have created a beer made from a rare yeast. Picture: Supplied.

Would you drink beer made from 100yo yeast?

Melbourne brewer Dereck Hales knows pester power goes a long way.

While working in a white collar gig in Melbourne, he (politely) begged the Mornington Peninsula Brewery to take him on to learn how to make beer, despite his limited experience.
Eventually, the brewery agreed and let the then 37-year-old work one day a week.

Two years after building up his skills, Dereck and his wife Diti quit their day jobs to open their own business - Bad Shepherd Brewery Co in November 2015.

Bad Sheppard brewer Dereck Hales and wife Diti . Picture: Supplied.
Bad Sheppard brewer Dereck Hales and wife Diti . Picture: Supplied.

The Cheltenham craft brewery has since had enormous success - making six core beers and two seasonal varieties per year, with up to 100 limited edition brews already under its belt.

But Dereck was thirsty for another challenge.

While listening to a Brewing Network podcast while walking the dog last year, inspiration struck.

Aussie beer historian Peter Symons was a guest on the podcast talking about endangered yeasts, stored in an archive in the United Kingdom.

There was a yeast strain called 'Melbourne No 1', first isolated at Ballarat Brewing in 1889.

As brewing methods changed in the mid 20th century, and that type of yeast became less popular in Australia, the yeast fell by the wayside.

Luckily someone had stored the yeast strain in the national archive in 1936, with Dereck tracing the sample to White Labs in San Diego, California.

By chance Dereck was visiting a Nashville brewing convention in April 2018, and approached White Labs who was exhibiting at the event.

Dereck again used his powers of persistence to get his hands on Melbourne No 1.

"But when I contacted the lab, they originally said no," he says.

"I begged them a lot. I told them what I wanted to do and who we were."

The Victoria Pale Ale is made from 100% Victorian ingredients. Picture: Supplied.
The Victoria Pale Ale is made from 100% Victorian ingredients. Picture: Supplied.

Pester power eventually paid off for Dereck, who has since used the yeast to make the Victoria Pale Ale, released earlier this year.

While other Victorian breweries have used Melbourne No 1, he wanted to make a beer made from ingredients sourced in the state.

"Most Australian beers use American and European yeast. We set ourselves a tough challenge to create the first completely Victorian produced beer," he says.

The malt was sourced from Geelong, hops from Rostrevor Farm in Myrtleford and Melbourne water.

Dereck is happy to share the love and says other brewers are welcome to request a sample to make their own beer.

"I really believe in community … it helps connect us," he says.

"People believe in us and we believe in them."

www.badshepherd.com.au

kara.irving@news.com.au

@kara_irving