Walworth's Orbit Beers made a fleeting debut in these pages at the end of January as my "discovered" brewery of note in Tryanuary, and it is long past time for me to fully delve into the music-inspired delights they are conjuring up in south east London. As the team readily admit, they are not about being wacky or extreme; the aim is to brew beers that are to be enjoyed all the time, for a long time. Having only begun brewing last summer (in railway arches, of course), they are still small in scale; but with three core beers and three seasonals all garnering rave reviews, it appears they are merely at the bottom of a big rise.
Starting off with the core range, the emphasis is very much on the light and drinkable. Nico is a refreshing Köln style lager, crisp yet fruitier than expected. This is primarily due to the fact it is brewed at a slightly higher temperature than most to add body and extract a little more out of the hops. Underneath there is still a slight chewy sweetness, making it more interesting than many similar lagers. The pale ale Ivo is another fruity offering hinting at passion fruit and lychee, with a mild bitterness that slowly grows the deeper into the glass one sinks. A very pleasant and rather dry beer, and whilst it is a little unspectacular would suit a hot July afternoon well. The final core is their darker altbier Neu. Malt flavours shine upfront before the lager yeast cuts through with its typically refreshing hit. After the first wave of caramel and sweetness, the flavours veer towards the grassy end of the spectrum, accompanied by hints of citrus.
However it is the seasonal beers where Orbit are really showing their class. Autumn saw the debut of Leaf, quite easily the best they have produced. A really good rauchbier full of smoked meat deliciousness yet retaining a crisp edge that keeps it highly sessionable. A classical, well executed example of a style I am a huge fan of, it is yet another reason to look forward to the fall. Winter's Seven is the black sheep of the family, being a double brown stout weighing in at 7%. Lots of dark chocolate tones dominate, a bitterness akin to a slab of Belgium's finest. Slight roasted flavours emerge in the aftertaste, but never more than a fleeting glimpse at the edge of the tongue; this is as English as the others have been German, and just as beautiful.
I was also lucky enough to try the new Spring seasonal Peel, which is released in the next couple of weeks. A hoppy blonde ale pitched with Belgian yeast, it has the typical saison notes of straw with a tart edge, followed by suggestions of pepper and apple coming through a dry finish. It is a remarkably complex yet still very drinkable beer that most definitely brings to mind the bracing and beautiful May mornings. This is just the latest example as to why I believe Orbit Beers are ones to watch very closely as they develop, and are a very fine addition to London's burgeoning craft beer scene.
You can find out more about Orbit Beers on the website, and see when they are next opening the brewery.