Few breweries have burst onto the craft beer scene quite as triumphantly as Philter. A mere four months into existence, with only two beers to its name, the brewing company took home one of the most coveted titles in Australian beer – Champion Pale Ale at the 2017 Craft Beer Awards. It turned out the fun, retro-style cans that had just begun appearing on bottleshop shelves (and which saw Philter collect a second, tongue-in-cheek, award on the night) actually had some serious stuff going on inside of them.
Perhaps that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering the brewer behind the beers is Samara “Sam” Füss. Over more than a decade and a half in the industry as one of Australia’s first female head brewers – and one of its most colourful characters, she’s held brewing positions across the country, including stints at Little Creatures in Fremantle and Young Henrys in Sydney and a couple of roles in Melbourne too.
It was Sam’s mates Michael Neil and Stefan Constantoulas who first proposed the idea of Philter over a few beers in a Marrickville backyard. Both men happened to be neighbours with a wealth of business and marketing knowledge accrued at large companies – Mick at surf lifestyle brand O’Neill and Stef at liquor giants Lion and Beam Suntory. They just needed a brewer to complete the story and, conveniently enough, they knew one.
Wanting to hit the ground running, the beer Sam pitched first was a sessionable, easy-drinking XPA. With the idea of the end product in mind, recipe development took place in Tasmania, shared equally between days in a mate’s 300 litre brewhouse and those spent fishing (beer needs time to ferment, after all). The trio was after something quaffable for a lazy afternoon, but also something of high enough quality that it could be professionally critiqued. In other words, they wanted a beer that could be deeply thought about, but didn’t have to be.
That ethos has held true through the rest of the beers in the Philter brand, which, although the name may suggest otherwise, are and always will be unfiltered. Rather, the name comes from an archaic name for a medieval elixir, like a love potion or aphrodisiac. Hence the brewery’s tagline that adorns every can: “Seductively Beer.”
Although the brick and mortar brewery proposed for Sydney’s inner west hasn’t yet come into existence, the heart and soul of the brand lies in Marrickville, the suburb in which it was born. It’s often Sam, Stef and Mick you’ll find hosting bar shouts at your local pub or bottleshop, helping break down the barriers between brewer and consumer and showing they’re just as laidback and fair dinkum Aussie as the people drinking their beer.
Marie Claire Jarratt