Patreon’s Choice: Beers from Orbit

Orbit beers in a row.

We asked our Patreon supporters which beers we should order from Honest Brew earlier this year and Paul B suggested we try bottled beers from Orbit.

We bought one of each avail­able from Hon­est Brew at £2.59 per 330ml bot­tle and sat down to try them, paired with some trashy TV, on Sun­day night.

We had no par­tic­u­lar pre­con­cep­tions about Orbit and could­n’t recall if we’d ever tried any before. We def­i­nite­ly had­n’t heard any of the trust­ed Lon­don beer com­men­ta­tors rav­ing about them which made us sus­pect they might not be in the top rank but the pack­ag­ing was smart and the choice of styles inter­est­ing so we went in feel­ing mild­ly opti­mistic.

Now, a con­fes­sion: once again time slipped away from us and Ivo, the pale ale at 4.5% ABV, had slipped past it’s best before date. It was bot­tled in Octo­ber and had a tight six month BBE so it does­n’t seem fair to offer any notes, except to say that it nei­ther delight­ed nor appalled us, and we aren’t averse to the idea of try­ing a fresh­er bot­tle or draught half some time, espe­cial­ly as the new head brew­er at Orbit has tweaked the recipe.

Altbier in a glass on a knitted beer mat.

Neu, a take on Düs­sel­dorf Alt­bier at 4.7%, intrigued us. Alt is a some­what elu­sive style about 80 per cent of the appeal of which is the cul­ture and his­to­ry sur­round­ing it. Take that away and you have a fair­ly low ABV, straight­for­ward brown beer that sits, in terms of char­ac­ter, some­where between British best bit­ter and Ger­man dark lager. This exam­ple was brown but with flash­ing high­lights of gold and orange, pleas­ing­ly clear and bright under fluffy white foam. In our one sur­viv­ing sou­venir Alt­bier glass it looked, at least, utter­ly con­vinc­ing. The flavour, too, was impres­sive­ly clean, with a crisp bit­ter­ness. There was a sug­ges­tion of roasti­ness in the flavour but no sticky tof­fee which made us think the colour was from black malt rather than the caramel-crys­tal fam­i­ly. Over­all, we liked it, even if – true to type – it was a fun­da­men­tal­ly sim­ple, unthrilling beer. If you’re learn­ing about Con­ti­nen­tal beer styles and want a sol­id exam­ple of Alt, this would cer­tain­ly do the job, and tastes bet­ter, we reck­on, than most of the read­i­ly avail­able big name imports.

A chalice of golden beer.
Peel is a Bel­gian-influ­enced blonde ale at 4.3% – an emerg­ing sub-style in UK brew­ing which we tend to like, with Bel­gian yeast adding wel­come extra lay­ers to oth­er­wise sim­ple, low ABV beers. This one was a clear, bright gold, and gave off a pow­er­ful Wit­bier aro­ma of cit­rus and the spice cup­board. The dom­i­nant flavour was a big squeeze of strange­ly arti­fi­cial-tast­ing lemon, beyond which was some­thing like an Eng­lish gold­en ale with the bite of hon­ey. It felt thin and watery rather than light and dry; harsh and jar­ring where we want­ed soft and funky; and cacoph­o­nous rather than com­plex. In oth­er words, we could­n’t tell you exact­ly why it did­n’t work for us, but it did­n’t, and we can’t imag­ine buy­ing it over many actu­al Bel­gian beers.

So, two beers in, one sol­id, the oth­er not to our taste, Orbit go on to the Ben­e­fit of Doubt list rather than Avoid.

One thought on “Patreon’s Choice: Beers from Orbit”

  1. Inter­est­ing, per­haps the bot­tles aren’t as good as the keg ver­sions. Only ever had a few of their beers on keg and have enjoyed them every time.

    Had a half of the Peel quite recent­ly & quite enjoyed it, to my unre­fined palette it remind­ed me of Duv­el, albeit at half the strength, (dis­claimer: I’ve only ever had about 3 bot­tles of Duv­el). Per­haps at I had the right beer at the wrong speed.

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