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.

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