In partnership with Orbit Beers
Wednesday 12 February 2020
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As Beer52’s resident lager-lover, it’s always great when a beer like Orbit Beer’s Nico Köln Lager comes in front of our tasting panel and everyone immediately shares my delight. It’s bang-on style, with noble hops providing delicious grassy, herbal and spicy notes, just a touch of bready maltiness and even a hint of estery pear drops from the distinctive Kölsch yeast.
Prior to this, I was only dimly aware of the brewery, but immediately set out to learn more. Orbit’s story begins with founder Robert setting off to explore his native Scotland in a classic VW camper van named Brian, in search of great craft beer. This expedition took him to every single brewery north of the wall, from the remotest island in Shetland to the Outer Hebrides, the Scottish Borders and even his home town of Dundee. The result was a book called The Tea Leaf Paradox and the germ of an idea for a brewery of his own.
Roll on to early 2014, and Robert is hauling brewing equipment into a double railway arch in Walworth, South London, where he will brew Orbit’s very first batch in July of the same year. Since then, all subsequent beers have been brewed and packaged on the same site, which has now expanded to include the arch next door.
Music is a big part of Orbit’s ethos (see box-out) and head brewer Mario like to work to a soundtrack of modern and classic vinyl records; an authentic, analogue experience that seems a good fit for the beers themselves. Alongside Nico, the rest of Orbit’s core collection is likewise classic and perfectly executed, including (spot the musical references) Dead Wax London Porter, Peel Belgian Pale and Ivo Pale Ale.
The platters that matter
Anyone old enough to remember buying 7” vinyl singles will recognise the swirling motif at the centre of Orbit’s logo as a spindle adaptor, required for some turntables. It turns out that one of Robert’s earliest memories is being fascinated with the stack of such adaptors that lived next to his older sister’s record collection. It was also around this time that a slight difficulty with pronouncing his own name led Robert’s friends to give him a nickname that seems to have stuck: Orbit.
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