German-style beers with a vinyl-fuelled soundtrack at Orbit Beers London
Seems every beer producer the right side of the River Thames (that’s south, of course) has taken up residency in a disused railway arch, but this compact neighbourhood taproom is doing things a little bit differently.
What came first, the beer or the music? At Orbit – they seem to go hand-in-hand thanks to founder Robert Middleton. The punchy yellow logo resembles a turntable, and the words ‘Hi-Fidelity Brewing’ sit under the name of this SE London microbrewery and taproom.
If you happen to swing by one Saturday afternoon, chances are you’ll find a crate of vinyl records are perched on a plastic keg and a few seen-better-days speakers propped against the makeshift bar that’s made out of wooden pallets.
Delve a little deeper, and you realise many of the beers owe their titles to members of the musical hall of fame – like Cologne-inspired lager Nico, after the vocalist who collaborated on the Velvet Underground’s first album.
Aside from the music, the focus is on Germany – setting Orbit apart from many of its nearby contemporaries. In the core range there’s also the malty, nutty Düsseldorf-style Neu Altbier (4.7%), the refreshing Ivo Pale Ale (5.3%) and Peel – a session blonde ale (4.3%) featuring slightly spicy-zesty Belgian yeast.
Headline acts at Orbit Beers London
The guest star at my most recent visit was the Walworth Pale 4.3%. Referencing the nearby main road – a hectic mile-long stretch that links Elephant & Castle to Camberwell Green via a chain of fried chicken shops and Tesco Expresses – a couple of glasses of this on a Saturday afternoon go down a treat.
In the past, other occasional beers have included the insanely drinkable 24 Hour Party Pilsner (3.3%), which had me at the name, and special ‘white label’ releases including the Rauch Alt – beechwood-smoked malt meets double altbier – and a Double Brown Stout in all its chewy-chocolate glory.
And, to celebrate their second anniversary, the team recently released a limited run of 750 bottles of barley wine made with figs and damson.
The taproom attracts a predominantly local bunch – there’s even a loyalty card for residents who share a postcode with Orbit’s Fielding Street address – and as summer approaches the opening hours extend to 8pm on Saturdays. That’s right, you have from 12-8pm (12-6pm when the days are shorter) one day a week to sample Orbit’s wares where they are made – proof that good things come in small packages. Outside of the railway arch, they are increasingly popping up in pubs and restaurants across the city so check the Orbit Beers London website for stockists.