5 minutes with Sam Fuss from Philter Brewing

If you Google “Philter” you’ll discover the Sydney brewery who opened last April. You’ll also find the definition of the word which is “a potion, charm, or drug supposed to cause the person taking it to fall in love, usually with some specific person.” You’ll also discover that Philter is the name of a 30-something Norwegian music artist who wears a big pink bunny head but I am getting sidetracked. With the tagline “Seductively Beer” I think it’s safe to assume the Sydney brewery is named after the love potion, not the pink bunny guy.

Philter Brewing is the result of three Sydney mates who wanted to “make a high-quality, easy-drinking beer with an attitude that was just as simple.”

In December, Philter released their third beer into the range, a lager, joining their XPA and Red, and the brewery got in touch to send me some samples. Big thanks to Melissa, Sam and the Philter Brewing crew for sending six cans all the way to WA!

The branding seems to be pretty divisive, more so than any other beer brand I can easily recall. Self-described as “1980’s Australia”, it reminds me of this ridiculous novelty hat my Dad had when I was a kid. It was in the shape of a top hat and was made from thick knitted wool and beer cans. When I posted photos of the beers, I got positive and less-than-positive responses which I’d imagine isn’t much of a surprise to the brewery. Admittedly, at first glance, I wasn’t a fan but the more I opened my fridge and saw these beers, the more I liked them.

Philter beers are not being stocked in WA just yet but you can get them sent to you through two online shops – The Booze Exchange and BoozeBud if you like great beer being delivered to your door!

Philter’s head brewer is Sam Fuss and her resume includes Matilda Bay*, Little Creatures and Young Henry’s, to name a few. Sam was also one of the founding members of Pink Boots Society Australia, part of a global organisation that supports and promotes women working the beer industry.

*I did attempt to link to the website but I got a security alert, just thought I’d mention in case it looked like I was deliberately leaving it out!

Sam is not only a great brewer with 16 years experience, she’s also just a great person in general and kindly agreed to this Q&A so read on for 5 minutes with Sam Fuss, head brewery of Philter Brewing …

Head Brewer Sam Fuss (right) and Co-Founder Mick Neil (left) at 2017 CBA Award Winners || Photo courtesy of Philter Brewing

Philter is still relatively new, less than 12 months old, what has been the biggest surprise so far?

It’s been a crackin’ year for us so far and taking out the Trophy for Best Pale ale at the CBIA awards was a huge surprise!! I thought they’d read out the wrong name, then I went a bit dumb! I was a little lost for words to be honest (which we all know is not like me at all!!). The other wonderfully surprising and humbling treat is how our beers have been received. We decided very early on that we’d have fun with our approach and why not, beer is fun! We’ve kept true to our word so far and we’re looking forward to upping the ante in 2018.
Loving this XPA, it’s full of passionfruit, grapefruit, toasty malts and a lightly grassy finish.

How long was the process to develop the XPA recipe and was an XPA always going to be the first beer for Philter?

In my head, I guess I’ve been working on a session ale recipe for about 5 years. I brewed a similar version under My “Old Salt” project banner, but have definitely refined it since. That comes from falling back in love with some old favourite hops like Simcoe and Galaxy and new ones such as Mosaic. Hop Flavour and aroma is a really big part of our beers along with keeping them sessionable. Our XPA is our flagship beer and is an awesome beer to brew!

Which beer style do you think is criminally underrated?

Not sure if I’m going to get booed on this one! But I reckon there is so much more to discover in lower to medium ABV style beers, Berliner Weiss, session ales the list Gose on (pun intended). These can be super complex beers and if you adding fruit, herbs or spices that adds even more complexity. A lot of it’s about balance and harmony between all of your ingredients if you achieve that you can make some wonderfully interesting and amazing beers, that aren’t necessarily about who can pee the highest up the wall with big boozy, high alpha, drink backwards, boob beard beers.

[girlplusbeer note: I believe Sam is referencing “gimmick” beers such as American brewery Rogue who made a beer with yeast harvested from one of their brewer’s beard.]

High on drinkability and punchy hop character, this beer is toasty and biscuity with a bright citrus finish.

You’ve done quite a few collabs in your previous brewing roles, who would you want to collab with at Philter?

I’ve had the opportunity to collab with some amazing people! Chef’s, Muso’s and some of the greatest artists of our time, spanning four centuries.

Watch: Inspired by ‘The Greats’ by Young Henry’s, a collaboration with the Art Gallery of NSW

Whilst it’s not on my radar at the moment, I’d like to continue stepping out of the norm boundaries and brew beers with likeminded artists from all over the spectrum. It’s amazing where you can draw inspiration from!

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for craft beer in Australia?

I hate to sound like a broken record, but as you hear from all parts of this brown land we love, it’s EXCISE!!! The Government needs to start to think about the little people, give small business a break, it’s well overdue!
Easily one of the best lagers I’ve had in a while. Delicate lime and grapefruit, bready and grassy with a rounded, dry, bitterness.

Big thanks to Melissa, marketing and branding for Philter, and of course Sam for your time, beers and awesomeness!

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