Look over the old films and photos and there’s one thing that stands out; they comprise more than a single individual – there are no selfies! Instead frame after frame of family, friends and mates talking over and great beers such as this XPA
ORIGIN. Sydney, New South Wales
SIZE. 375mL can
STYLE. Extra Pale Ale
It was the week before the GABS Festival when I first discovered Philter while having a conversation with my neighbour. We were drinking something a little non-descript when he returned from the fridge with the most bogan looking beer since KB lager. He told me that Philter came about after a few of his mates had one too many at the local before agreeing to quit their jobs and start brewing. The name, I was told, was derived when one of them accidentally dropped a cigarette stub into his schooner. Perhaps if I’d had a few more, his story might have sounded more plausible. I like to say, you can’t BS a BS’er! Though my neighbour Nathan wasn’t lying about Stef Constantoulas being a mate of his, the Philter story has nothing to do with cigarettes, but rather a conversation between neighbours Stef and Mick Neil (similar to mine but without the BS) where an idea was born and a plan formed.
A plan that started with poaching from Young Henrys one of Australia’s first female brewers with over 20 years in the game, Sam Füss. Next, they needed somewhere to produce, with Hope Estate in the Hunter Valley selected. Following that came some can designs, which are clearly the result of all the budget being poured into steps one and two! But it’s what happened next that was the real surprise; in July 2017, after only four months in business, they took home the gong of Champion Pale Ale for their XPA at the 2017 Craft Beer Awards! Their XPA ranked ahead of the 204 different offerings from various legends of Australia’s craft beer fraternity. By all reports, the trio were as surprised as anyone, with Sam being quoted as saying ‘We didn’t even take our entry seriously. We were just going to use it as a benchmark and get some feedback from the judges’.
And then came GABS. Given its early form, perhaps I shouldn’t have been so shell-shocked when it ranked #33. But what’s so good about this XPA? With a standard cloudy appearance and a creamy white head, it’s the nose that first provides a glimpse that you’re holding something much more special than the packaging would suggest. The mix of Mosaic, Galaxy, Simcoe, and Citra hops serves up an aroma of citrus, passionfruit and a touch of freshly cut grass. The body follows the nose and combined with the low bitterness and dry finish, it serves up one of the more drinkable beers I’ve had in a long time.
It’s one heck of a beer for a company that has been in existence for less than two years. On top of that, they don’t even have a system of their own on which to brew – and that’s no BS!