Apart from a Philter-branded ashtray sitting on the outside steps and a small neon sign in the window, the only hint there’s a bar inside what was once a yoghurt factory on Sydenham Road in Marrickville are the twinkling lights shining through the gaps in the 1960s geometric breezeblock facade.
“From the outside, it’s so cheesy, but that’s our brand,” Philter co-founder Stef Constantoulas tells Broadsheet. “And then you come in here and it’s such a cool space.”
Founded in a Marrickville backyard in 2017, Philter went on to gypsy-brew its award-winning ales and lagers at Hope Estate in the Hunter Valley, then at Hawkers Beer in Melbourne. But after two years of searching, its five founders have finally found the perfect space for both a brewery and a bar, just around the corner from where Constantoulas and fellow co-founder Mick Neil first started talking about brewing beer.
The space is split into two distinct areas. There’s a cosy wood-panelled bar room with coloured glass lights hanging over round bistro tables, a black leather chesterfield and a vintage tiled bar. Hanging behind the bar, among old records propped on shelves , is a vintage mirror with Philter’s logo painted in gold lettering. “Philter is all about nostalgia for the good old days – the ’80s,” says Constantoulas.
The bar opens into a vast brewery dominated by rows of enormous, gleaming tanks. Head brewer Sam Füss (ex-Young Henrys, Little Creatures) presides over the operation, controlling the brewing process via a state-of-the-art console on a platform that gives her access to the tanks.
When Broadsheet arrives, she’s eight hours into working on two brews. She’s constantly in motion as she talks, checking the computer screen and peering in the porthole of a tank to check the liquid is draining into the next tank for boiling. It’s obvious her knowledge of brewing is encyclopaedic, as she jumps from talking about yeast to describing the “fresh, fruity, tropical” tasting notes of Philter’s XPA and explaining the techniques she uses to minimise water wastage.
To celebrate the launch of the brand’s first permanent brewery and the new bar, Füss has brewed up Marrickville Nights, a hoppy dark ale that Constantoulas calls a “celebration beer”. It rounds out a selection that includes Philter’s award-winning XPA, Red Session Ale, IPA, lager and an assortment of stouts and experimental beers.
Until the kitchen is up and running in a few weeks, Cantina Movil Mexican food truck will be on site. But once the bar starts pushing out its own food, you can expect a solid menu that makes the most of local producers in the Marrickville area. Pizza will be a centrepiece.
Philter has come a long way since its inception. If you’d told the founders during one of their backyard sessions that, in three years, they’d be producing more than 1.5 million litres of beer a year in an old yoghurt factory, they wouldn’t have believed you.
“It’s surreal, going from a couple of mates having a yarn to meeting Sam and starting this,” says Constantoulas. “We never thought we would have something as big as this. It’s pretty exciting, and it’s pretty surreal.”
92–98 Sydenham Road, Marrickville
Wed to Thu 5pm–9pm
Fri to Sat 12pm–10pm (bookings only)
Sun 12pm–6pm (bookings only)