Beer of the Week

Five Things About … Philter XPA

1) So this can of Philter XPA has a very distinctive retro vibe. I get it (and, as a beer history dork – I wrote a book about it and everything – I love it),  you probably get the vibe too. Even the press kit says it’s so. But here’s the thing – I look at the can and think it’s a US retro beer can style, not the “1980s Australiana” as claimed in that press kit. I can’t think of a single Australian beer that looked like this can – which makes me think I’m right. But, even though I’m emphatic in my belief it is a US style of can, I can’t find a single can that looks like this. Which should make me think I’m wrong, but it doesn’t (ha, brain, you’re so weird.

2) Philter, of course, is the latest effort from Sam Fuss – formerly of Young Henrys. Old Salt, True South and Schwartz Brewery. I say “ of course” because I assume you already knew that. Yeah, I assume you’re a little bit smart, that you have a little bit of of knowledge about beer. Just a little bit smart, not a lot smart. If you were then you’d probably be on a beer website that was more than just one guy banging on about stuff.

3) But you’re not – and I’m kind of relieved about that. Because if you all went somewhere else, I’d be the internet equivalent of the weird old guy who talks to himself, who everyone looks at and says “hey, look at the weird old guy”. This is why I pay close attention to my web stats – to see how far I am from “weird old guy territory”.

4) Okay, let’s get back on track, shall we? This is an XPA, a style which still confuses me, to be honest. The acronym sounds more like it belongs on the rear of some hooned-up car than a beer. But anyway. To me, the style carries the implication that it’s a sessionable easy-drinker, which is not quite true in the case of Philter.

5) Sure, at 4.2 per cent, it’s not super-boozy or anything. And it does go down really easily. But “easy drinking” always carries with it the connotations that there’s not much in the way of flavour to distract you from getting it down your throat. There’s enough going on here to make you stop and think about it – aromas of pear, a smidge of a peppery tang and decent backbone of bitterness – but if you just wanted to drink and enjoy it, you could do that too.

Free or paid for?: It was free. And not just one can but a whole six-pack. Yeah, that’s how you do media samples – one beer to be all serious and review and the other five to enjoy.

5 replies »

  1. It definitely triggers some visual associations in the mind of this Brit – a particular stage in the evolution of supermarket lager. Might not be quite as early as the 80s, maybe late80s-early 90s. Initially all British lager played on the German heritage so was all Gothic script. Then the non-German Eurofizz came in – Stella/Heineken/Skol – and the Anglo lagers – notably Carling but also XXXX&Fosters, and the supermarkets followed their branding – particularly taking the off-white background of Stella & Carling, and the big letters of Fosters/XXXX – and for that matter Coke/Sprite etc. Oh, and Red Stripe of course – Red Stripe had a massive moment in the UK in the early 1990s and still has a lingering popularity.

    So if you mash up all those influences and cheapen them a bit, you get British supermarket lager in the late 80s/early 90s. I’m not sure they will have left much trace – the best place to look for them now would be by archaeological digs under park benches…

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