“You are astronomical fans of alcohol – so welcome in” – British Sea Power, Waving Flags
It’s a tough old gig being a beer geek. First they ram it down our collective throats that there’s a hop shortage. Then a plethora of the UK’s best breweries simultaneously release a set of increasingly rambunctious double IPAs. On top of this, the UK’s best seem to be banging out consistently delicious pale ales with increasing regularity. Nightmare.
While it’s true that a lot of smaller breweries are struggling to get hold of the specific hops they want to use in their beers, consumers are having a whale of a time, with more choice than ever. That choice doesn’t always need to be an intensely perfumed, Yakima hop infused beverage though. An increasing number of UK brewers are creating riffs on classic German styles such as Kölsch, Berliner Weisse, and my current personal favourite; Altbier.
Orbit Beers, based near Kennington in South London, have a place close to my heart. Like me (and, indeed, Hop Burns & Black), their passion for beer is equalled by their passion for music – and this shines through in their branding. Their Altbier, Neu, even takes its name from the German krautrock band of the same name who, just like Altbier, emerged from the town of Düsseldorf.
Neu pours a gratifying shade of burnished copper, not unlike a classic British best bitter. Its similarities between the UK’s national beverage don’t end there either. The flavour of this beer is centered around the malt, there’s a little chewy toffee, hints of brown sugar and just a little bit of hazelnut. After this comes the march of spicy, herbal German hops, which slaps the sweetness back like the rap of a snare drum on an 80’s post punk record. The finish is dry and satisfyingly bitter, it’s one of those beers that you just don’t want to stop drinking.
You could even drink one this Saturday and celebrate/commiserate the 500th anniversary of Germany’s beer purity law, the Reinheitsgebot. This law shaped the evolution of Germany’s beer culture much like CAMRA shaped our own here in the UK, except that its 10 times older.
Increase your enjoyment of this beer by playing British Sea Power’s anthemic Waving Flags from their 2008 long player Do You Like Rock Music? It’s basically the modern indie rock equivalent of a Bavarian drinking song. Lederhosen optional.
You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis. And you can get Orbit Neu delivered to your door via our new online shop.