Where to start with Samara / Sam / Sammy Füss?
In recognising her achievements as one of the first female brewers to really make waves in the local craft beer industry? In recalling the myriad moments of merriment and madness that litter the years? With the award-winning beers she's created over the past decade and more? By acknowledging that her mere presence in any room guarantees you're going to have at least 25 percent more fun?
How about all of those?
On a professional level, Sam started her career in craft beer behind the bar at Little Creatures in Freo. Within months, she'd graduated to the brewing side of the operation before being enticed to Melbourne to head up brewing at the now-defunct Gunn Island microbrewery in Melbourne's Middle Park. That led to stints at Matilda Bay, Schwartz Brewery in Sydney (which has now evolved into the Sydney Brewery), True South in Black Rock, then Young Henrys, which followed a short spell releasing beer under her own Old Salt Brewing brand.
But, for many people in the beer world today – particularly those relatively new to craft beer – she'll most likely have come into their lives via Philter. She was approached by the brewing company's founders, Mick Neil and Stef Constantoulas, to be their head brewer and it must be the best decision they've made.
Within months of launching, their flagship XPA was crowned Champion Pale Ale at the 2017 Australian Craft Beer Awards then followed up with the same trophy a year later as the awards became The Indies. In between, it claimed Best Australian Style Pale Ale at the 2018 Australian International Beer Awards, which came on the heels of Philter's Champion Gypsy Brewery win at the 2017 event.
There have been other, tongue-in-cheek, awards on the back of the brewing company's branding too. Some reckon it's like Peter Stuyvesant packs, others mention Nascar, while there have been a few mentions of the word "bogan" along the way too. Whatever your take on it, from the go it was a look that stood out and helped Philter tick many of the boxes around what it means to be a modern craft beer brand in Australia; collabs with the likes of Dear Seattle and surf movement M/SF/T have added to that carefully curated picture.
But let's return to Sam, whose role within the local beer world stretches back further and goes deeper. If you've been involved in the industry in any way over the past decade, there's a good chance you'll have a story – or several – in which she stars.
For me, there's everything from dancing with her and her dad in a late night bar to the koala mask that appeared from god knows where at one Local Taphouse event and her superhero's approach to getting dressed at a Hair of the Dog Breakfast during an early Good Beer Week.
Then there's the very many warm hugs and the fact she never forgets to ask after "my little mate Matilda", my daughter with whom she spent time at the first ever GABS back in February 2011 and an early Women of Beer event, back when Matilda was just months old.
The past decade hasn't always been plain sailing for Sam, but she's ending it on the highest of highs, with the announcement that Philter have secured a site for their brewery and venue in Marrickville, crude graffiti and all. It's arguably the keen fisher's biggest and most exciting challenge yet and one we can't wait to check out once it's open.
Before then, however, here's one of the beer world's biggest, brashest, sweariest and sweetest characters as we hit day 19 of our end-of-decade Advent Calendar series.
What's been your highlight of the past decade?
So much to mention, but most recently our little XPA picking up a few gongs in only our first four months of trade. It's a beer that's been close to me for a while and to finally get it in a glass and for it to be received so well is awesome.
What's surprised you the most about the Aussie beer scene?
How quickly Aussie drinkers have embraced indie beer!
Year on year consumers are becoming more aware, educated and versed on quality and styles.
What are your thoughts on the health of the beer industry as we approach the end of a remarkable decade?
Having brewed professionally for the past twenty years, I'd say the last decade has been monumental for the growth of craft beer in Australia.
What's your number one goal for the coming decade?
It's been an amazing ride so far and, with the brewery build in full swing, the 2020s and onwards are going to be huge for us at Philter. So, maintaining growth, quality and sustainability is key.
Personally, I want to get more involved in the things I'm passionate about and to be a better human.
And, if you had one Christmas wish for beer in Australia, what would it be?
My beery wish would be that we think more about how we consume! To try and improve our environmental impact on this beautiful earth.
We're opening a door on Crafty's Advent Calendar every morning up until Christmas Day and you can find them all here.