Cuvée de Cologne 2023
Cuvée de Cologne is a brewer’s choice blend of complex, oak barrel-aged Nico. This limited release is an annual treat among Orbit drinkers.
Every year Orbit Brewers barrel-age a small portion of Nico Köln Lager in a solera system, leaving it to ferment with specially selected strains of Brettanomyces.
When they fill the barrels with freshly fermented Nico, they do so on top of a small portion of barrel-aged Nico left behind from the previous year’s Cuvée de Cologne. This annual process allows the Cuvée de Cologne to change and develop year on year, whilst retaining links to Nico – the base beer, and previous releases of Cuvée de Cologne.
The 2023 blend was aged in oak barrels for 2 years with a blend of Brettanomyces Lambicus and Brux. With a slightly more funky and complex flavour than our 2022 blend, you can still expect aromas of toasted hay, oaky vanilla, and a subtle touch of lemon sherbet. Smooth bready-malt flavours with restrained bitterness, delicate acidity, and a champagne-like dry finish.
What is Brettanomyces?
Brettanomyces flavours and characteristics would have been part of the reality rather than part of the process before the mid-19th century. Wooden vessels and cleaning techniques would have meant that most beers would have some level of Brettanomyces in them, and brewers would have found it difficult to control the outcome, brewing in cooler months to try and control the fermentation process. But even still, Brettanomyces would have been an expected/accepted component of the beer.
We now have advanced brewing knowledge and the luxury of much cleaner brewing equipment and processes, allowing us to have more control over the bacteria present and the fermentation process as a whole.
Renowned beer styles such as Lambic, Gueuze, and Saisons are intentionally and traditionally brewed with Brettanomyces. In recent years it has been embraced by craft brewers around the world resulting in the resurgence of modern 'Brett' beers.
Taking inspiration from traditional brewing methods, brewers have not only been brewing with Brettanomyces, but have once again begun to age their beer in oak barrels to see how ester profiles develop and to add to the complexity of flavour. Brettanomyces is a slow fermenting yeast, so it can take time to allow the yeast to develop and produce the desired flavours. But it is worth the wait!
Due to the diversity and adaptability of this yeast strain, it is used in bottle-conditioned beers, as well as blended beers such as Cuvée de Cologne.
Although it is associated with sour beers, it adds a tart, acidic, funky flavour rather than a sourness.
These beers belong in our Digger’s Series, of which the flagship beer is Cuvée de Cologne. We've also got a barrel-aged Philly Blend out in July 2023, our barrel-aged Lentebock, and the barrel-aged Barley Wine.