After a two-year search, Philter Brewing, a former gypsy brewing outfit, is setting down roots in the Sydney Inner West suburb of Marrickville.
Philter, which won Gypsy Brewer of the Year in 2018 after being open just a year, has now found a location at a former yoghurt factory on Sydenham Road.
Mick Neil, Stef Constantoulas and Sam Fuss founded the brewery in 2017 and have been looking for a home ever since.
Constantoulas said the reason it had taken so long to find a home was because the team had some very specific demands for the site.
“We’ve been looking for two years, we were very picky. We wanted to be picky because we didn’t want to make a decision that wouldn’t have suited us,” he said.
“It’s kind of fortunate, because what we were looking for back when we first started was half the size.
“We didn’t expect to grow as quickly as we have, and now we’re in a position where we’ll get a brewhouse and we’ve got a site that will continue to let us grow for the next couple of years, instead of having to look for another site later.”
The patience has paid off, and the team found the venue, which is located opposite Wicks Park and in the middle of the Marrickville brewery trail.
Apart from specifications like size and access to utilities, the team remained committed to the Marrickville area and did not want to compromise.
“For us we wanted to be in Marrickville, that’s our spiritual home, it’s where Mick and I live and where Sam is from. We were always going to be a Marrickville brewery.
“We had some options to look at other suburbs, we did look at some properties in Alexandria and Rozelle, but they all felt wrong for us.”
The commitment to Marrickville added some complications to their search, and the team had other demands too.
“That causes some issues, looking in one suburb. Secondly we really wanted to be in a really good high traffic location, we didn’t want to be stuck away in the back of an industrial area.
“The other big challenge with us at the moment is all the development going on in the area and change of usage of the land. Everyone really wanted a demolition clause.
“We looked at so many sites, they didn’t have the longevity we needed. When we found something that ticked most of our boxes it was like ‘let’s do it as quickly as possible’.”
Philter always planned to launch its own venue, despite the costs and planning issues associated with it.
“We’ve always wanted that home, that spiritual home for Philter so people can come and experience the brand in its own setting,” explained Constantoulas.
“There’s a definite cost benefit of brewing your own beer. Contract brewing is an expensive option… it’s harder to book in when you’re going down the gypsy path, to get smaller brew spots, and for Sam to have the ability to say today, I’m going to do something weird and whacky, and to have the ability to do some more small batch brews [is important].
“Every time we’ve done a limited release like our haze, we’ve had to commit quite a significant amount of volume to do that, thankfully, Sam is a great brewer and she’s never let us down, but it will be great to be able to experiment a lot more.”
Fuss will be brewing on a 25hL Premier brewkit, which is being constructed in the United States. The team expect all the components to arrive in January.
All going well, they expect to have Philter HQ open by early March 2020, although it is dependent on getting the development application for its taproom through from the council.
Luckily, the Inner West Council is no stranger to brewery planning applications.
“The council has been really good and supportive,” Constantoulas said.
“Its not like we’re in a suburb where they say ‘oh what’s a brewery and how do we do this?’
“The mayor of the Inner West, Darcy Byrne, has been really supportive and helped us go through the right channels. [The council are] really proud to be known as the brewing capital of Australia.
“We also need to do a big shout out to the Inner West Brewers Association, and the other breweries that have laid the hard path beforehand, it’s made our journey a lot easier too.”
Philter is taking advantage of the artisan food and drink licence in NSW, and is looking to put a full restaurant in at some point in the future, but will be prioritising its taproom first.
“There’s not a place right now where you can go and try all the beers we have on offer and that’s really important, to experience those beers pretty much as fresh as possible.
“We want to incorporate our brand into the bar, and it will be something different than a standard taproom, so you get a bit of that brand experience when you walk in.”
He said that while the Inner West had many breweries, the fact that Philter already has market penetration and brand awareness would work in its favour.
“We already have [that recognition] in our beers. Our very sessionable beers – that’s what we’re most known for.
“Even with our cans we’ve got that retro feel, we like to be seen to be different and hopefully that’s enough.
“In the venue we’ll bring those elements in and hopefully you’ll get a different experience compared to other bars around. We’re also really happy to be on the brewery trail, you can come down and go to eight or nine breweries in a day and experience the best there is of Sydney craft beer.”
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