Ten Years of Orbit Beers

Record player spinning with Orbit Nico as the vinyl artwork


Ten More Years

Written By Robert Middleton - Orbit Beers Founder, July 2024


Back in late 2013, when I was trying to figure out how one starts a brewery, I had never heard of Taylor Swift, nor milk-shake IPAs. One of those two phenomena already existed (and had already released four albums), while the other was yet to be imagined. Now that we are in 2024 preparing to celebrate the tenth birthday of Orbit’s first-ever brew, I can confirm that I am familiar with both of these phenomena. One very much still exists (and has recently released her 11th album), while the other is virtually extinct. It’s been an incredible journey, bringing together two of my biggest passions under the Orbit arches - beer and music and, indeed, learning how to start and run a brewery in South London.


Robert mMddleton, Orbit Beers Founder, at Orbit's first taproom bar in 2015

Here at Orbit, we are decidedly more about evolution than revolution - despite the implication of our name. We are dedicated followers of European brewing traditions and care deeply about the provenance and culture that surrounds those diverse beer styles. Our annual ‘research’ trips to destinations such as Brussels, Prague, and Cologne ensure the whole team is immersed in the origins of brewing excellence. We are fiercely independent and we are here for the long term. We never seek to be on-trend or follow a fashion; we are consistently true to ourselves. For example, we have yet to brew a milk-shake IPA, and I doubt we ever will!

The Orbit Beers team in Brussels Belgian together outside A La Mort Subite

Just take a look at our core range over the last decade. We started with Nico (Kölsch), Ivo (Pale Ale) and Neu (Altbier). Soon after, Peel (Belgian Wit) was born and Neu became a treasured B-side (currently being re-released for the 10th anniversary). We then found room for Dead Wax (London Porter) to complete the core quartet (breaking new ground by allowing a two-word name). All of those references are music-related, and each person/band made unique and genuine contributions to music. Again, Dead Wax did somewhat break from the norm here, but it does have the important job of keeping your precious needle safe while you contemplate your next vinyl selection.

Orbit Ivo Pale Ale next to a record player

Our core range beers have been meticulously refined over the past 10 years to ensure they pay homage to the traditional styles they’re based on, even if they do have some Orbit flair to them. The quality and consistency are something we’ve strived for from the beginning, which is why these beers have stood the test of time, just like the brewery.
Looking back through the archives, I was proud to see how many unsung heroes of European beer culture we have showcased over the past decade. All listed here.

A mixture of Orbit Beers White Labels Series beer bottles lined up

We’re also a creative bunch here among the Orbit arches. We’ve released nearly 100 experimental/limited-edition beers under our White Label Series. As with white-label records, those that really fill the floor are treated to a wider release. Consider 24-Hour Party Pilsner, available again and once famously bulk-ordered by a venue that had booked Bez to DJ for the night. Then there’s our award-winning Tzatziki Sour. Not quite a core beer, but perhaps pseudo-core, our fifth Beatle, our crazy diamond (cheers Syd). Tzatziki Sour, although a traditional Berliner-Weisse, is a clear indicator that we don’t shy away from experimental flavours and techniques. We are constantly trying to hone our craft, and experimenting with our White Label Series range is a big part of that.


Tzatziki Sour bottle next to a glass of the beer, some cucumbers, limes and mint.


Finally, a shout-out to our Diggers Series, those longed-for rarities or fabled picture-discs. Beers and records that require some extra time and attention, the patience needed to age beer in wood, or to dig through crates of vinyl at local shops and record fairs. You can find out more here about how we create and care for these beers. And you can expect a much-anticipated release for our 10th birthday party, Damson Blend: Cuvée de Cologne 2024, a barrel-aged Bretted Nico on fresh English Damsons.

Two beer barrels

Regarding 24Hr Party Pils and Bez, we didn’t get to work with the Manc maracas shaker, but did once have the privilege of working with 4AD cover-art legend Vaughan Oliver to produce our Hey IPA with the Doolittle Artwork. One that we got to share with none other than Frank Black. A real highlight for us Pixies fans! We also made a beer for Public Service Broadcasting to help launch their third album, and more recently we’ve hooked up with Japanese Television (the band, not the broadcaster).

The Orbit team with Frank Black from the Pixies and their collaboration beer


Our home in Walworth has witnessed Orbit’s steady, organic growth from one arch to two, and now four. And we’ve no plans to go anywhere.

The empty orbit taproom railway arch when it was first purchased. With two Orbit staff inside

How did it all begin? Looking back now, I can see that there were two critical catalysts without which you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Those are Brian the campervan and Iain Banks’ book Raw Spirit. The latter was the inspiration for my journey around all of Scotland’s breweries, and the former was my means of travel. On a trip to discover great beer, I also discovered great people! I realised that the brewing industry was home to a wonderfully warm and passionate community that I wanted to be a part of.


The Orbit team drinking beers outside of Shirkers Rest bar

So, what’s next? How will things look in another ten years’ time? We’ll still be here, still be independent, still loving those elegant Vichy bottles. Vinyl records will still be rotating in the arches at 33rpm, sharing their surface noise and oozing static. Playing the long game, gaming the long player. We’ll still be loving the spindle adapter and still supporting independent labels & producers. Maybe one more core beer? Perhaps two more arches and many more good times. One thing’s for sure, we couldn’t do it without our supporters, community, promoters, roadies, artists, friends, and producers. Thank you all.


Robert Middleton holding up a bottle of Nico lager

And Taylor Swift? Yep, she’ll still be around, maybe album twenty will be on the way, maybe a Hollywood career, or maybe even President. I can however state with some confidence that she won’t be drinking an Orbit Beers milk-shake IPA.

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