Originally Posted on Oct 21, 2015
Are you curious to know about the people behind the beers you buy? Or perhaps you want to know what inspires brewers to brew and beer bloggers to blog? Our “Q&A” posts are a light hearted way of getting to know people working in, and connected to the beer and alcohol industry.
Today’s post features Robbie Sykes from Orbit Beers.
Who are you/what do you do? Robbie Sykes – Assistant brewer at Orbit Beers
How did you get into this line of work? I worked with beer as a cellar man/buyer and later as a manager of beer focused pubs in the North and then London since returning to the UK just over 4 years ago. I made the switch to a brewery a little over a year ago and got lucky getting a start at Orbit Beers!
What is your favourite beer, wine or spirit? Blimey, it’s very difficult to pick one thing out…but one particular 75cl bottle of Saison Dupont shared on the top deck of De Planck in Gent one bright sunny afternoon sticks out in my mind.
What do you think makes a great beer? Thirst!
What was your first drink and where were you when you had it? Erm, almost certainly Omega cider on a playing field in Macclesfield. Or maybe it was White Lightning.
What is your favourite style of beer? A sub 4.5% pale bitter, on cask.
Bottled or canned beer? Either.
If you have to pick, which would be your top three beers in the whole world? Erm. Do I have to pick?! De Ranke XX Bitter, Marble Bitter (on form…) and Paffgen Kölsch (for a style plug!)
What is the best part of your job? Learning more and more about beer every day in an environment where beer comes first.
What was the inspiration for starting the brewery? Our boss, Robert, started the brewery having fallen in love with the brewing industry during a long trip in a camper van around every single brewery in Scotland. I think his book is available on Amazon actually; ‘The Tea Leaf Paradox’.
After finally finding a site in London, my boss spoke to the good guys at Twickenham Brewery for some sound advice, got a kit built by Johnson Brewing and then he hired our head brewer (to brew the beer) and me (to make the tea), and recently another team member to help sell and promote the beer at various events and what not!
As for our beers we can often be found looking towards the continent for our inspiration; we’re a big fan of how things are done in Germany and also the Czech Republic. As such, many of our beers have a very Germanic influence, though of course we’re not adverse to looking a little further afield (we produced a Kiwi hopped version of Peel this year), or indeed closer to home (our Double Brown Stout harks back to 19th century English style stouts) for ideas and inspiration.
Where do you see, or hope to see, the brewery in 5 years time? Still producing our core beers on a small scale but in larger premises than now! And hopefully still with an exciting array of occasional specials, supplying regular customers in London and beyond who love the beer for what it is.
Are there any other breweries which have influenced you? Personally, Marble in Manchester were always important. And when I was younger, Phoenix and Pictish were the first pale bitter’s I remember drinking. Whilst these days for their working practises and willingness to offer help and advice (as well as the beer), The Kernel and Brew By Numbers are a couple of crackers. As a brewery though I guess we should mention the brew pubs of Köln and Dusseldorf; Paffgen and Schumacher respectively in particular.
How long have you been brewing at Orbit? The brewery’s been in production since July 2014 and I’ve been here since September of the same year.
Out of all the beers you brew, which is your favourite? Why is that? Currently Peel, gently fragrant and peppery, beautifully dry and drinkable.
Where did you learn to brew? Right here, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Out head brewer though is ex Howling Hops and previously gained experience at Brew Wharf.
What is the hardest thing to master when learning to brew? For me, patience.
Thank you to Robbie and Orbit Beers for taking the time to take part.
You can view and buy beers from Orbit Beers here.