New Brew News: Fyne Ales X Orbit - Jammin'

By Iain Smith

Long distance relationships aren’t easy, especially when the those involved have little in common. Where one fully embraces the bustling trendiness of South East London, the other is entrenched in the rural peace of the Scottish hills. Given the disparity, it was probably inventible that that things between Fyne Ales and Orbit Beers would turn sour – luckily, that’s exactly what we wanted.

Introducing Fyne Ales X Orbit - Jammin’, a blackberry and blueberry kettle sour, launching Friday 26 May in keg and in bottles. 

A collaboration over one year and 369 miles in the making, Fyne Ales X Orbit, round two, has yielded a giant, juicy, tart triumph of a beer, packed with forest fruit flavours and a refreshingly sour finish that demands to be sipped again and again.

We approached the second leg of our collab with London’s hi-fi brewery like a jam session – two breweries, two sets of talents, no rehearsals. Get together, start playing with ideas and see what happens, see how the flavours flow. Like any good jam session, it’s as much about listening as it is playing, and with Orbit known for producing top quality German-style beers, and Orbit brewer Mario Canestrelli keen to see how Fyne Ales brews its sessionable sours, it was quickly decided that a Berliner weisse-style-beer was a good starting point.

We’ve employed the same approach to kettle-souring for all of our beers thus far; our process has always been to allow naturally-occurring lactobacillus on an uncrushed malt addition to propagate in temperature-controlled wort under a CO2 blanket, while closely monitoring the pH levels until the mixture reaches the desired level of acidity. Given the success of beers such as our core-range Ich Bin Ein Berryliner, we were happy to use the same method again with our collab with the Londonders. 

“We brewed our first sour, Saudade, in 2015 and it was a bit of a risky brew. We acidified a weak wheat beer in the copper using the uncrushed malt method to start the souring process and we didn’t really know how it was going to turn out – things might have gone very weird, being our first time trying it” explains Fyne Ales brewer, Andrea Ladas. “The bugs that came from the malt produced a lovely range of aromas and a clean lactic sourness, and we’ve enjoyed experimenting with sours, without changing the process too much, ever since.”

Jammin’ was our first attempt at recreating the process in the new brewhouse. Mario arrived at the brewery on Friday to brew a wheat-beer base with a target ABV of 5%, before pitching the uncrushed malt and leaving it to do its thing over the weekend (with regular pH checks). While the lactobacillus (and friends) had fun in the kettle, Mario and the Fyne Ales brewers had fun taking in the sights of Argyll. By Sunday afternoon, the brew was ready for the boil and progressing as normal.

After primary fermentation was complete, it was time to step things up with a whole lot of fruit. Mario and Andrea bounced around ideas for the fruit bed on which Jammin’ would spend a few weeks resting, with a forest fruit theme winning the day. Jammin’ was given three weeks on a mixture of blackberries and blueberries, imparting it with a stunning deep pink colour and deep dark fruit flavours.

“The beer took colour from the fruit very quickly, and after three weeks it was pouring a vibrant, almost blood-red colour,” continued Andrea. “The smell is all fruit, and there’s a slight mineral edge to the taste, as well as a refreshing sourness, that plays well with the dark fruit flavours.”

Jammin’ will be launched on keg on Friday 26 May at Craft Beer Co Clerkenwell (info), alongside eight beers from both Fyne Ales and Orbit. To ensure those north of the border don’t miss out, we’re also holding a Scottish mini-launch in Doghouse Merchant city (info) on the same night!

Bottles will be available from 29/5/2017 from all lovely beery bottle shops.