Why do we use bottles?
Whisper it quietly, but drinking beer from a bottle is an incredibly satisfying experience. All sensible advice suggests that you decant, and into the perfect glassware too. This allows a little of the aroma to reach your nostrils, a fluffy head to form up to and just over the rim of the glass - shaking off a little excess carbonation in the process, and showcasing the beautiful (or otherwise) colour of the beer for all the world to marvel over.
All these things are certainly true, and can really enhance the drinking experience. But, are you telling me you wouldn’t want to sit on a rooftop, sun on the back of your neck, perhaps after some hard labour, and slurp a beautiful beer straight from a fresh, icy-cold bottle?
Of course, it isn’t always sunny in South London, and so there are many other reasons why we are proud to use our 330ml Vichy bottles at Orbit Beers, whilst much of the rest of the craft industry has made the switch to cans.
In truth, we would probably sell a lot more beer if we packaged into cans. The growth in that particular market has been huge over the last two years. There are also positive arguments in favour of cans relating to the freshness of hoppier beers in particular, and others relating to environmental issues (though they are perhaps not as clear cut as is often suggested).
For Orbit Beers though we made a simple choice to retain glass bottles, and indeed to switch to the elegant Vichy bottle shape, when we updated our branding back in 2017.
Our beers are inspired by European brewing styles and heritage, from Burton to Bamberg, Pilsen to the Rhineland and we felt there was no better way to truly represent that than with the European looking (and sounding), Vichy bottle.
Indeed the look of the bottle wrapped in our vinyl record inspired labels (designed by ByVolume), and capped with a matching crown adorned with an iconic spindle adapter, is one that excites us still today. This is how we have chosen to present our beer, giving it the packaging it deserves.
Like Factory Records choosing aesthetically pleasing sleeves that allegedly cost more than the record could be sold for, we feel the simple beauty of our beer in these bottles, with these labels, is an investment worth making.
We are also well aware of the recycling potential for our bottles. Glass is still today one of the most widely recycled materials available for beer packaging. Meaning our bottles (labels easily removed) can be melted down and re-formed. Indeed, for the homebrewers who collect them from our recycling bins, they provide an even more efficient form of recycling!
Our bottles, in 2020 have left us standing unashamedly apart from the crowd. That slightly idiosyncratic difference is something we’re proud of and has always been evident in what we do.
From our Tzatziki Sour of the last twelve months (brought with him from Mad Hatter by Head Brewer Paul), or the Pisco Sour brewed with Brick Brewery in January, right back to our Citra, Mandarina or UK Hopped Kellerbiers of 2016/17, we have always followed our own path, brewing styles that we thought deserved attention, even when others perhaps didn’t.
The beer of course, takes precedence in all of this. Our Meheen bottling line, whilst not without niggles (ask our brew team!) allows us to ensure every single bottle is evacuated with CO2, purging all the air and therefore oxygen from the empty bottles, before they are filled with the finest, fresh beer under counter pressure. The contents are then pulsed with more CO2 on top of the beer before capping it. This ensures dissolved oxygen levels are kept to an absolute minimum, keeping our beer tasting fresher in the bottle for longer.
These bottles are then packed into cases along the line, stacked on to a pallet and transferred to one of two converted shipping containers in our yard. These giant walk-in fridges keep all of our freshly bottled beer at below 5°C. Meaning you can be sure the beer you buy from us has been packed and stored with the greatest care.
And guess what, when you get that beautiful bottle in your hand, it’s straight from our fridge and ready to drink, cold and fresh whether you have the correct glassware to hand, or like me, you’re happy and satisfied supping it straight from the neck of the Vichy bottle, blissful redemption, after a hard day’s work.