Friday, 27 April 2012

Q. How do you confuse an American?

A. Suggest Anorak as a name for your beer

We thought that Kristen and John would know what an anorak is, as it only has six letters and they like using simple words in America.

When John came to Scotland in September he started reading the dictionary to learn a new word every day. He hoped this would give him something to impress the Scottish women with, as rambling on about beer didn't seem to be working. By March he had nearly reached the end of the letter A. Needless to say we were tired hearing about aardvarks, antelopes, alligators, alpacas and antidisestablishmentarianism. He seemed to be drawn towards animals and anarchy.

1.6 million years ago man discovered fire. In 1492, Columbus discovered America. In 1985, Brown discovered the flux capacitor. At 11.23am on Tuesday March 27th, John Woodford discovered the word anorak.

John put his pants back on and phoned the rest of the team, declaring a name had been found. The team agreed that the word was with John. And the word was good. And so it is.

An anorak isn't simply a functional piece of outerwear for those inconvenient Scottish summers. It is also a person with a very strong interest in a niche subject, such as John's unhealthy wolf obsession.

Most importantly, ANORAK is the new beer from Natural Selection Brewing, launching July 2012.    

Hide your wives, hide your daughters, he's learned a new word

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Meet the 2012 Team

The previous blog described the beginnings of Natural Selection Brewing last year. As a reminder NSB is the overarching brand that each year 4 new students work under to launch a new beer to market. By having a new team every year NSB is unlike any other brewery. More of a phoenix than a cuckoo, it rises from the ashes of the previous year with new ambitions and targets to achieve.

The raison d'etre of NSB is to provide four students with the experience of developing a new beer and bringing it to market. Importantly this experience is then written into a formal report that goes towards the Brewing and Distilling qualification they are working towards. The content of the report will be slightly different for each member of the team as they will focus on the parts of the project that they are responsible for. Although they are each responsible for different aspects of the project, the students will work closely together, each gaining experience of all aspects of the project.

So this is the team for 2012:

Kristen Ewer @kristenewer

Where is home?  New Jer-zee (translation: New Jersey)
Role in NSB?  Quality Control
What's your background?  Chemistry, I have lab coats with my name embroidered on them.
Favorite beer?  I have a soft spot for Belgians, so Westvleteren 12.
Pirates or ninjas? Pirates!

John Woodford @john_woodford

Where is home?  Omaha, Nebraska
Role in NSB?  I'm the Lead Brewer
What's your background?  I studied chemistry at Iowa State.
Favorite beer? Boulevard Brewing - Collaboration No.2, it's a great white IPA.
Pirates or ninjas? Ninjas of course.

Shane O'Beirne @shaneobeirne

Where is home?  Galway, Ireland
Role in NSB?  Sales and Marketing
What's your background?  I have worked as project manager for a number of years and have a degree in engineering and a post-grad in management.
Favorite beer? Tough question, it's hard to beat a good Black Isle porter.
Pirates or ninjas? Pirates.

Denis Johnstone @denisjohnstone

Where is home?  West Lothian, Scotland
Role in NSB?  PR and Brand Development 
What's your background?  BSc Hons. Ecological Science - University of Edinburgh / Former BrewDog Assistant Brewer
Favorite beer? My favorite is the Mikkeller, Brewdog collaboration I Hardcore U
Pirates or ninjas? Pirates, they just arrrrr better.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

What is Natural Selection Brewing?

Steve Stewart (Managing Director of Stewart Brewing) came up with the original idea of enabling students to launch their own beer as part of an MSc project. The idea became a reality in 2011 when Steve teamed up with David Quain (Professor of Brewing at the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Heriot Watt University).  The plan was to give four postgraduate MSc Brewing and Distilling students the opportunity to design a beer and bring it to market, experiencing first hand every step in the process from ideas through to sales.
Team Finch - Kevin EmmsDamon ScottSteven Kersley and Colin Lymer

NSB can be thought of as a cuckoo brewery. The cuckoo is a species of bird that doesn't build its own nest but lays eggs in the nests of other bird species. A cuckoo brewery brews on the premises of another brewery, and doesn't own a physical brewery itself. Several very successful breweries follow this model of cuckoo brewing including the Danish Mikkeller and Evil Twin. Edinburgh also has other cuckoo brewers: Innis & Gunn and Knops Brewing Company. NSB brew their beer in the "nest" of Stewart Brewing.

The 2011 label design for Finch
Initially the 2011 students had to decide a name for the brewery and Natural Selection Brewing was chosen due Edinburgh's association with Charles Darwin. They also hoped their beer would be another step in the evolution of great beer. The students were responsible for devising the recipe, deciding a name and designing branding. 

The beer they released was called Finch, a 6.5% 'robust red ale'. Unlike most breweries that can develop a brand over months or years,  NSB only had a matter of weeks to bring the beer from initial ideas to being brewed and sold. The project was so successful that plans were put in place to repeat the project this year. NSB has turned out to be one of the most high profile, challenging and rewarding MSc projects offered by the ICBD at Heriot Watt.

Fresh ideas and new talent every year mean that no two NSB beers will ever be the same. If any of you still have a few bottles of Finch you are in the envious position of being able to taste and compare it side by side with the beer produced this year.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Natural Selection Brewing 2012

2012: a new year, a new team and a new beer. Natural Selection Brewing is back, bigger and better than before.

This year we are going to brew 'Anorak', a wheat beer which we think will be the perfect summer beer to launch during July. At the moment the team are busy brewing prototype batches to determine the exact recipe.

Our other main task at the moment is to choose branding for the beer. We are looking for a creative person to help us design artwork for the label, pump clip and websites/social media. Full details of what we are looking for, including the design brief, can be found  here. If you know anyone who might be interested in helping us design our artwork please direct them to this website.

Over the coming months we will post blogs to share our experience of bringing a beer from initial ideas to market. It should be an interesting journey and we hope you will come on it with us.

Kristen, Shane, John and Denis
Natural Selection Brewing 2012