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Ela Carte reviews Bad Shepherd Brewing Co in Cheltenham


Bad Shepherd Brewing Co – 386 Reserve Road, Cheltenham ?

Last week was all about the wine bars, but never let it be said I discriminate against any booze. The other phenomenon, of course, is the mirco-brewery, popping up all over Melbourne, and often offering beer food to go with our brews.

This one’s in a surprising location, on the edge of an industrial estate, but you won’t miss Bad Shepherd Brewing Co. Busy tables out the front, great bold signage, it stands out in an otherwise non-descript street. Super family friendly, kids were definitely welcome and plenty had taken up the unwritten invitation.

Open since November, it was the dream for Dereck and Diti, who both quit their corporate jobs to make it a reality. Dereck is the head brewer and is responsible for the beers, and Diti’s in charge of the food. These guys made the sensible decision that when you think beer, you think barbie, in this case ? low and slow American barbecue.

As is always the risk with slow cooked meats, there’s a chance they’ll run out ? you can’t just whack some pulled pork in the microwave and get away with it. Hence, on this day that we lunched at 3pm, there wasn’t any pulled pork left!

The hulled jalapenos with cream cheese: Not too spicy, plenty of flavour.

The hulled jalapenos with cream cheese: Not too spicy, plenty of flavour.

So, to start, we snacked on jalapeno poppers. Hulled jalapenos, stuffed with cream cheese, breaded and deep fried, they’re served with house made ranch sauce. Not too spicy, but plenty of flavour.

I can tell you now I wasn’t going near a mushroom sandwich, so with no pulled pork, it had to be the Texas Beef Brisket. I was more than happy with the compromise. Ten hours smoked beef brisket with house-made slaw and dash of BBQ sauce, all in soft brioche bun. The meat gets a treatment of Diti’s secret recipe rub (think plenty of pepper, mustard and brown sugar); then it’s smoked with applewood and Victorian red gum, & cooked low and slow.

The big surprise is the Canadian pig candy. I’m a big fan of pork ribs, but they can be served in so many different ways. These were a cracker. My fear when they came out ? two giant, meaty ribs, quite pink in colour? That they’d be tough and chewy. No fear there, they were glorious.

These guys dry rub the spare ribs, again smoke with apple wood and red gum, then ‘crutch’ them with apple juice – sitting the ribs in juice, wrapping them in foil and putting them back through the smoker. Once they’re out, the leftover apple is infused with the rub and rib juices to make a house BBQ sauce with maple syrup, which the ribs are then glazed with. The result is sweet, spicy, sticky ribs ? you may need to ask for extra serviettes.

Canadian pig candy was glorious - far from tough and chewy.

Canadian pig candy was glorious – far from tough and chewy.

A little more confusing was the sweet potato mash. Definitely got the thumbs up but it really is hard to work out if it’s a savoury side or a dessert. So very American, it uses maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and a dash of bourbon to spice up roasted and mashed sweet potato. It’s then finished off with a delicious pecan crumble. Honestly tastes like the traditional fruit crumble.

Of course you get a huge choice of beers to go with your tucker. I was more than happy with the seasonal release – Raspberry Wheat Ale. Obviously a fruit bear, it’s not too sweet, but super refreshing. The American Pale Ale is a top seller, and the Hazelnut Brown is a good option for anyone looking for something different ? with real hazelnuts, vanilla extract and a splash of Frangelico. 

It’s great to see a passionate couple taking a punt on their food dream ? certainly helps that in supporting them, you’re getting a great feed yourself!