Friday, 9 September 2011


Well, it has been a great experience and tons of fun, but the project is now finished. There are some people that need to be acknowledged. Big thanks go out to:

Steve Stewart and the staff of Stewart Brewing, for giving us this opportunity and working with us every step of the way

Dr. David Quain for seeing the value in this project and mentoring us through it all

Fellow classmate of the ICBD 2011 for giving us great support and drinking lots of the beer!

Graham McKernan for his help with test batches, and the professors of the ICBD

Chris Mair for his enthusiasm and excellent advice, as well as the whole Black Isle crew!

Real Ale Guide, Mark Dredge, Kenny the beer monkey, Beercast, and all the beer writers that picked up our story

The publicans and retailers that took a chance on our humble beer

And everyone who came out to the launch, or chased the beer around Edinburgh to find it in
cask, or bought T-shirts, or supported us in any way

And many more of you! Thanks again and cheers!

- the Natural Selection Brewing project team

Monday, 1 August 2011

bio of Kevin

Well, it has been an amazing experience but the project that is 'Natural Selection Brewing' is coming to a close, so I feel like taking this last opportunity to tell you a little bit about myself and say a few things about the project.
So, first of all, Hi! My name is Kevin Emms, I am the Project Manager for Natural Selection Brewing and I am hailing from Vancouver, Canada. 
 I can trace the beginning of my proper beer life back to when I was 15, and I moved from Canada to London, UK. There I attended the American School in London, and we found that at that age, if we picked our spots carefully, we could often get into the pub! At ASL I got to travel around Europe quite a bit for sports and music. Suddenly, it was as if my universe of beer underwent a 'big bang' and I was discovering tons of new varieties and styles - and I loved it!

I returned to Canada to study at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. I realized I wanted to do something I was really passionate about, so I tried to find a job in a local brewery (driver, washing kegs, ANYTHING!), but at the time I was unsuccessful. Shortly after I discovered the MSc Brewing and Distilling course at Heriot-Watt University and applied....

I came to HWU wanting to really hone in on my brewing passion, but I've found that distilling spirits is quite interesting as well, and it is often the same people that produce - and indeed consume - both types of beverages. One of the best parts of my HWU experience was that the community of MSc brewers was really tight-knit and enthusiastic. It was great fun to experiment with all of our home-brewing shenanigans, and no doubt this provided a good atmosphere to strengthen our brewing abilities.

Although we set high standards for ourselves as a group in this project, I am pleased that we were able to meet our goals. My role in Natural Selection Brewing has been mostly behind the scenes. In addition to several side projects I took on, I coordinated the members of the team to keep everyone on the same page, I liaised with Project Supervisors, balanced the budget, held everyone to the tight timeline, et cetera. I was mainly concerned with keeping the project running smoothly and ensuring that everything was done in a manner that was befitting of our company image/vibe. My other main passion is music, and it was amazing how much my experience promoting my own bands on a shoestring budget tied in with the situations I encountered in this brewing project.

Once again, this project has been a great experience and I would quickly like to acknowledge a short list of people that were instrumental in making this happen. Big thanks to Steve Stewart, Dr. David Quain, the professors of the ICBD, our fellow MSc Brewing and Distilling Students 2011, and especially, BIG THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO SUPPORTED US BY BUYING OUR BEER!

What does the future hold?
In the immediate future I will be heading back to Vancouver, BC. I have been craving the West Coast outdoors so badly. 
I want to be involved in craft brewing on the West Coast in North America. I want to get involved with a company that is passionate, innovative, artisanal but with good practice and business sense, and that has ambitions to expand and grow. Really, I want to get involved somewhere that I can really put my all into. 

My last word is that this project was inspiring and has been invaluable for my own experience. I hope to see it undertaken again in subsequent years, and I hope that those involved can receive the same amazing level of support that we got. Thanks again.


Introducing Claire Odecki - our Artist

One of the most frequent bits of feedback we’ve had during our project has been how much people like the artwork, and they want to find out where it came from. I am pleased to introduce the artist we worked with to create the label for Finch…  Ms. Claire Odecki.

Claire is from Canada’s capital, Ottawa, but now resides in Vancouver, BC. There she attended Emily Carr University of Art and Design, specializing in illustration.

Throughout the few years I have known Claire, whether it is a small sketch or a gallery display, her artwork has never failed to impress me and also surprise me with its creativity. Furthermore, after working with her a few times now I have found her to be adaptive, dedicated, and personable – very easy to work with.

At Natural Selection Brewing, we compared the portfolios of several young and talented artists during the brand development stage. Ultimately Colin found that Claire’s work stood out, and would best represent what we were looking for. You can view a selection of Claire’s portfolio online at where she also lists professional contact information. She provided me with a few self portraits of herself for me to choose from to put up here, but I like them all so here they are:

- Kevin
Project Manager

Thursday, 28 July 2011

A Great Launch

Well folks it's been exactly one week since us boys at Natural Selection Brewing launched our Finch, Robust Red Ale into the Edinburgh market at the Guildford Arms.  We'd first of all like to thank everyone who made it along, it was such great night and the turn out was incredible.  At the end of the evening I had a wee word with the barman and he said that we had gone through three and a half 9 gallon casks.  Needless to say we were delighted with this because as most of you know our beer isn't the lightest, weighing in at a hefty 6.5% ABV, we were expecting most people to have just a couple of pint and call it a night.  So to see the wee Finch get the reception it did made us so chuffed and the celebrations last long into the evening.

The launch itself kicked off at 8pm, with a lot of folk turning up early to get the first few pints.  It was great to see so many faces from the brewing industry turn up, we had brewers, pub owners, our off trade customers and bloggers all there to have a taste of our beer.  We couldn't have hoped for a better turn out, at one point a counted 60 faces that I recognised.  This mass of people was reflected by the stress on the barmaids faces, at one point I seen a lass behind the bar duel wielding the taps....what a champ!

Half way into the evening we broke for a couple speeches.  We filled everyone in on our story, explaining how we came to be and how the beer and the company evolved the way it did.  This also gave us a great opportunity to explain to everyone in the Guildford who wasn't there for the launch what we were all about and in doing so persuaded them to try the Finch.

The overall reception to Finch was really positive.  We got a lot of thumbs up and a lot of complements were thrown our way which we were so grateful for, a couple of people even said they were saddened by the news that this beer was a one off, a feeling that we both shared. 

Now that the launch is over we've got our feet back on the ground and it's back to business as usual by concentrating on our bottle sales.  The list of places to buy our bottles of Finch is below and there is also a link to the website where cases of 24 can be purchased.



Appellation Wines
Cornelius Wines
Great Grog
Henderson Wines
Meadows Wines
Vino Wines
 The Whisky Trail (royal mile)


The Natural Selection Brewing team

Thursday, 21 July 2011


The night has finally arrived - tonight we unveil FINCH Robust Red Ale to the Edinburgh public!

The launch is at the Guildford Arms Pub, just off of Princes Street:
The event starts at 8pm, and runs until midnight, or until the beer runs out! Maybe think about coming early...

This will be the first of the limited opportunities to try FINCH from a cask.
Steven has posted a list of pubs around Edinburgh that will be serving our beer from cask, but we don't expect it to be around for too long! 

Tonight is in many ways the culmination of our project. Since we came together as a team for the first time we have been dreaming about the day we get to unveil the beer we have created and share it with our peers, friends... everyone we can!

So we hope to see you there tonight. Please give us some feedback - we'd love to hear whatever you have to say about our beer and our brand. Furthermore, tonight is just going to be a great night!

Come and try FINCH and we are sure you'll see why it is a Natural Selection.

Finch is one step in the evolution to better beer.

Yahoo! Cheers!
Kevin Emms
Project Manager

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

T-shirts on the way

Hi everybody!

First of all, I'd like to say a big 'thank you' to everyone that wanted to commemorate our project by ordering a Natural Selection Brewing T-shirt! This is what's happening with those shirts:

- We wanted them to be really high quality, and represent our beautiful artwork properly without compromise.
- After an exhaustive brain-storming and vetting session with Fire Label Merchandising Ltd, we have come up with a way to have our shirts printed the way we wanted. This is by making use of the cutting edge DTG (direct to garment) printing technology, for those who are interested.

This is the final mock up, below:

Anyways, I am quite happy with them, and now I can't wait to get my hands on them! Unfortunately, due to our long vetting process and coming up with a way to print our elaborate design onto a coloured shirt, these shirts will not be available to distribute at our launch event at the Guildford Arms.

They will arrive at the beginning of August (3rd-ish), at which time we will notify everyone that ordered and arrange to have them delivered/picked up, etc. 

Kevin Emms
Project Manager

Damon Scott, brewer bio.

I'd like to provide a little background on me and the process of brewing Finch.  Before moving to Edinburgh in September, 2010, I worked as a brewer in Colorado for 4 years.  I left Durango Brewing Company, in Durango, Colorado to come study at Heriot-Watt. 

Our team decided early on that we had a great opportunity to brew a beer that we wanted to drink and that the growing population of beer-lovers in Edinburgh would appreciate.  We drew up a list of beers we thought walked the line perfectly between balance and loads of flavour.  That list inlcuded beers like Odell IPA, Victory Hop Devil, Sierra Nevada Torpedo and New Belgium Ranger IPA.  The local market is well-stocked with tasy IPA's so we decided to brew a beer within the style of 'Imperial Red Ale'.  Since 3 of the 4 group member are from North America, I suppose it was inevitable that the beer would be relatively high in alcohol (6.5 % abv) and hoppy.  Ethanol is one of the most important flavour compounds in beer.  The beer has strong malt and hop character and the alcohol helps keep it all in balance. 

We used all UK malts.  The Maris Otter base malt was from Muntons Malt and the Crystal and Caramalt came from Simpson's Malting.  Charles Faram & Co provided the Amarillo hops which gives Finch its unique American quality.  This varietal was developed in Washington state and has gained in popularity within the American craft brewing industry.  Everyone gets different flavours and aromas from the ingredients in beer, especially hops, so I think you should smell it for yourself!  To me, the hop aroma is slightly grassy complemented with citrus. 

While desinging recipes, I like to keep things simple.  This allows each of the carefully chosen ingredients to lend their unique character without getting muddled in a dozen different malts/hops.  The malt and hop character will develop as the beer ages in bottle, and the inclusion of some yeast into the package helps keep the beer alive.  The alcohol will help the flavour develop complexity over time.  I suggest you buy a case and drink (at least) one beer every 2 weeks!

This post was supposed to be about me, but I find the beer to be more interesting.  However, I plan on moving back to Colorado in late August/early September and continue working as a brewer.  I can't say where exactly, but I'm looking forward to working with one of the many great breweries that are engaging the consumer in a much more genuine way than the breweries who try to convince you that what's on the bottle is more important than how the beer inside tastes and is made. 

I hope to see you all at the Guildford Arms on Thursday, or at one of the beer tastings I will host throughout the city...more on that later. 

If you'd like to get in touch with me, you can e-mail me at


Damon Scott

Finch on Cask!!

Hey guys, after Thursday we are delighted to inform you that you will be able to get yourself a pint of Finch in the following pubs in Edinburgh....

Blue Blazer
Bow Bar
Holyrood 9A
Jenny Ha's
Pear Tree Inn
Stockbridge Tap

The LAUNCH is at the GUILDFORD ARMS, 8PM ON THURSDAY (21st July).  Come down and have a few pints with us, it's going to be a great night!



Sales & Marketing

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Steven's Bio

Troops, how’s form with you?  I’ll give this bio craic a shot.  I’m Steven and I’m the Sales and Marketing man for Natural Selection Brewing.    I’m from the wee town of Oban on the west coast of Scotland and have been living in the capital for the past year completing my MSc in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot Watt Uni.

Before being accepted onto the course I studied chemistry at Glasgow University but my passion has always been centred around the alcohol industry.  This I learnt soon after my first year at university when I managed to land a great wee job at the Oban distillery as a tour guide for the summer.  I immediately became very interested with distilling and was keen to get myself involved with the alcohol industry when I left university.  I worked at the distillery for 3 summers and on leaving Glasgow Uni I got myself over to Edinburgh and began the Masters course. 

Now I’ll be honest, at the start of this course the old beer knowledge was fairly lacking.  I was able to draw on similarities from the distilling process but all the intricate details I had no clue about and whilst recognising a good beer I still hadn’t experienced a full range of different styles....Well things have changed big time on that front and with the help from my pals at Heriot Watt I’ve become well versed in all different types of beer and to be honest it’s been an absolute treat.   What’s more is that as I’ve been getting to grips with numerous types of beers I’ve also been learning all about them in the classroom, not the worst situation you’ll find yourself in.

So Natural Selection Brewing and our Finch robust red ale has become my focus over the past few months and with the launch so close we’re all very excited.  I’m going to take huge amounts of experience from this business venture and I’ll hopefully be able to put that to good use in the very near future.  

My plans after we get all the Finch out of the door is to get a wee job in either the distilling or brewing industry and I can honestly say I'm not fussed which one anymore.  I always thought myself as a distiller but that firm belief has been knocked down a few pegs and now I can't wait to get stuck into any area of the drinks industry. 

slàinte mhath

All the best,

Steven Kersley

Sales and Marketing

Friday, 8 July 2011

N.S.B. T-Shirts

We at Natural Selection Brewing would like a little piece of wearable memorabilia to have to commemorate this great experience. We know that we have lots of friends and family that might like to get in on the order as well, so here is your chance!
(this is a close approximation of how the final shirts will look. Click to enlarge)

- send an email to, with the subject T-SHIRTS
- please list the sizes (Men's sizes only unfortunately!) and quantity you would like

THIS IS NOT MERCHANDISE, this is memorabilia, so we will not be looking to turn a profit. As such, the cost of the individual shirts will be determined by the size of the order (as the company provides a volume discount). Still, you can assume that the shirts will be less than £12 each

DO NOT place an order unless you will be able to collect, and you can pay the group members electronically or pay cash.

People in Edinburgh/Scotland will be able to collect their shirts at or after our launch event if they contact the group members or make arrangements in the order email.
People from Oban can have their shirts delivered by Steven Kersley.
People from North America need to make specific arrangements with their friend/family in the project group.

Deadline for orders is 11am on Tuesday, the 12th of July, so don't delay!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Colin's Bio

Hi guys,
  I am Colin and this is my Bio… sounds a bit weird but I’m going to take a shot here. 

A little about me, I’m one of the nomads in the group. I was born outside Ottawa Ontario in Canada and I am a Canadian Citizen. I moved to the States when I was about 8. I lived in the south for a majority of my time there (Texas, Louisiana) for a 15 years. So I have a funny accent that is Canadian rounded off with a little Texas drawl. 

But let’s talk about my life in relation to beer.

I remember growing up and stealing my dad’s beer all the time as a child. My favorite joke was “Why did the Chicken Cross the Road? get to the beer store.”  It really made no sense to me but all the grown ups laughed. I remember trying beer again at the age of 11-12, and I hated it will a passion.  I didn’t drink again until I was 18, and off at University. Texas Christian University to be exact. I slowly got into import beers when I had the chance and I remember sneaking into the Flying Saucer in Ft. Worth with a couple of friends and having my breath taken. I think it was 66 Taps on the wall! All of beers I knew nothing about. As a group we slowly kept going back and back, it was an addiction, but in a good way we just wanted to explore all different styles and beers we could.

 Then came the summer of ‘07 when I need a job.  I applied at the local brewery to help with their website, and somehow got the job. I learned quickly small breweries are fun but are also a lot of work. You handle every and any job that comes your way. I was filling kegs, helping with the bottling line, doing sales run, events, you name it I had a hand in it. This is where I had a turning point in life…

At this time I was on my 6th Different major at TCU and still had no idea what I was doing with my life.  I was doing a beer tasting at an upscale grocery store. When I lady come up to me and asked, “what are you serving?” I replied “Beer,” she said “I don’t like beer and only drink wine.”  I persuaded her to have a sip, it was free after all and a hot Friday afternoon in Texas. I watched her take a drink and all I saw was a huge smile.  She walked out with a case of beer that day. I made me realize that I could make other people happy while doing something that I was passionate about.

I then moved on to Portland Oregon, a mecca of craft beer in America.  I started home brewing in Portland when I wasn’t working as a Marketing Manager. I traveled to festivals, became a Certified Beer Judge, and tried anything I could get my hands on. My parents were there too and they were very supportive of my new found Love, Thanks Mum and Pops. Then I got the mixed blessing of being laid off and was out of work for about 9 months. I figured I would take a shot and I applied to come to Heriot-Watt for my MSc in Brewing and Distilling and by some twist of fate I got in and flew over here.

And here we are today! I hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor!


Colin Lymer
Brand Development and Design

Monday, 4 July 2011

Newspaper Article - and meet the team!

The Edinburgh Evening News ran a story about Natural Selection Brewing. Check it out, or pick one up!

Further background information on Natural Selection Brewing:

The idea for this project was conceived by Steve Stewart of Stewart Brewing Company, who is himself an ICBD graduate. The premise for the project was to give students the opportunity to get a feel for what it is really like to design a beer brand from concept to launch. Stewart approached Dr. David Quain of the ICBD with his idea, and together they refined it to create the framework for a practical project.

After an application process, 4 students were selected to make up the team. While the team members would work together to achieve the group goals, certain specific team roles were created to ensure that all aspects of the project would be covered. Our roles break down as follows:

Damon Scott - Brewer
- Damon decided on the style and approach for the beer we would brew, and conducted test batches at the ICBD pilot brewery before completing final recipe and brewing it with Iain at Stewart Brewing Co.

Colin Lymer - Brand Design
- Colin was responsible for building the concept of our brand and giving it a story and appropriate iconography. He was the one who came up with the name 'Natural Selection Brewing' to incorporate themes of evolution, academia, and the connection between Darwin and Edinburgh to attach to our beer brand. He was responsible for developing our label, and ensuring that our brand is presented in the best way to the public.

Steven Kersley - Sales and Marketing
- Steven developed the sales strategy for our brand, and has been actively 'pounding the pavement' to meet publicans and liquor store owners/managers to sell our beer. He has also conducted market surveys to aid him in developing our market strategy, and he has most frequently acted as the public face of our brand.

Kevin Emms - Project Manager
- My role is to oversee and coordinate the project team to ensure that all deadlines and goals are being met. I also take on or help out with specific tasks where I can. I have liaised with project supervisors to make important company decisions and I keep detailed records of our progress.

Our project has been a massive learning experience so far, challenging us on our ingenuity in the pilot brewery, on fostering good team dynamics, making quick and effective brand decisions under extremely tight deadlines, and showing us working parts of the industry we would not learn about in the classroom.  We are optimistic for a very positive response when we release our beer  in 2.5 weeks, and we look forward to hearing consumer feedback!

Next on the agenda for us is to package our beer this weekend; some into casks and the rest into bottles with our fancy new labels! After that, we look forward to seeing you for the launch party at the Guildford Arms (just off of Princes Street, across from the Balmoral Hotel) on Thursday July 21!


Kevin Emms
Project Manager

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Beer is in the Fermenter

I am happy to report that yesterday we brewed our production batch of Finch, 'Robust Red Ale', and everything went great!

We had an early start - 6 am! - at Stewart's Brewing Company. Immediately before us were 16 or so full sacks of malt that we would be turning into delicious red ale. It was a pretty full load in the mash tun, but luckily we got the strike temperature right, and we ended up with the target mash temperature first try, no fuss!

After running off into the kettle, we took great pleasure in adding wave after wave of nice and fresh whole hops to the boil. The lupulin was coming apart in my fingers in its powdery yellow bliss as I pulled the hop cones apart. Needless to say, the kettle (and the building) smelled incredible.

After the boil, we added some more hops to the unique make-shift, and effective hop-back. We pushed to get every last drop we could out and into the fermenter. At last, the brew was in the fermentation vessel, yeast was pitched, and we were laughing! It was a proud day for Damon, our brewer, the wise architect of our recipe, and for all of us in Natural Selection Brewing.
The finch has come home to roost, you might say?

We'd like to send a big 'Thank you!' to Iain from Stewart's, who led us in brewing and who magnanimously tolerated us in his work space. He was informative, patient, and he was enthusiastic about our beer as well!

Colin was constantly taking pictures, and despite our best efforts to act like fools, he managed to get some good shots. Check them out on our facebook page :

To conclude, the beer is in the tank! Now all that's left is packaging the stuff, and then drinking it! We will need all of your help with the latter....

Kevin Emms
Project Manager

Thursday, 23 June 2011

but.... what actually is 'Natural Selection Brewing'?

Many of you visiting this blog are undoubtedly still confused about what you are looking at. I bet some of you are wondering 'what is Natural Selection Brewing?' Well, we have a very interesting story to tell you about how we came to be, who we are, more about what we are doing, and our plans for the future...


unfortunately we cannot divulge too much information at this time! Not until after the strategically timed publishing of our press release.

I will, however, give you some bare-bones information about us to alleviate any confusion:
- Natural Selection Brewing is a unique Master's Thesis project by 4 MSc Brewing and Distilling Students from Heriot-Watt University.
- The project is worked in a partnership with an award winning Edinburgh brewery to create a student designed subsidiary brand and accompanying beer style/product, to be launched Summer 2011 predominantly to the Edinburgh public.

We are not just hopeful, but confident that our brew will turn some heads when it hits pubs and stores, only a few weeks away now!

- There will be more information to come on the project itself as well as the students involved in it, but for now at least you have some idea of what Natural Selection Brewing is about.

Kevin Emms
Project Manager

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Behold, our Artwork!

We are very to happy to unveil the artwork for our label:

This lovely piece, in addition to the logo you see above, was created especially for our upcoming release by the very talented artist, Claire Odecki, of Vancouver, Canada.

We hope you will be keeping a look out for the Finch, and for something Robust and Red that will lead you to a groundbreaking discovery in craft beer!

Finch Robust Red Ale hits Edinburgh pubs and select liquor retailers in a matter of a few weeks!

After tasting it, we hope you'll agree with us as to why it is a ... 'Natural Selection'!
(This is my future disclaimer for bad jokes you will see in this blog)

More to come soon!
-Kevin Emms
Project Manager

Thursday, 9 June 2011

the drip drip before the flood (of beer)

Natural Selection Brewing now has a blog!
This is for those of you that actually want to read more than a twitter update! Bahh... imagine!

Now I can't say too much at this point but I wanted to get this blog started. There are going to be lots of updates, and lots of things to talk about in the upcoming days/weeks, so keep an eye on this page when you can! We are intending to release more information and more pictures, artwork, etc gradually (drip drip effect) to help build the momentum around our project on the run up to release. It was time to put this blog up because, well... a lot is about to happen!

STAY TUNED! And, I hope you feel a thirst coming on...

- Kevin Emms
(Natural Selection Brewing, Project Manager)