Earlier this week we previewed the launch of Natural Selection Brewing’s debut beer – Finch, a 6.5% ‘robust red ale’. Four students of Heriot Watt’s Brewing and Distilling postgrad course have come together to design, produce and market their own beer – from scratch – using the pilot plant at the Uni, and then the brewing facilities at Stewart Brewing for the final run. Final being very much the operative word – the lads will soon be going their separate ways, and presumably Natural Selection Brewing will be no more.
Having chatted to them they clearly appreciate the grounding in the industry that the project has given them – it really is a fantastic idea. In fact, a previous ICBD graduate told me he’d have loved to have done something similar. Rumours are that the University is keen to make this an annual project, so hopefully next year a new batch of students will get to turn their collective hands to their own beer. Having that practical experience of bringing a product to market is invaluable.
But what about that beer? The launch took place last night at the Guildford Arms in Edinburgh – the guys having produced 15 casks and 3000 bottles. In some respects, the quality of the final beer probably wasn’t as important as the experience gained in formulating it – considering what they went through, there’s a fair bit of lee-way for a ‘first go’ (you should hear our first podcast, for example). But it does them credit that everything came out so well.
Finch was bracketed as a mix of the American and Scottish – a British take on something like Odell’s Red Ale. In truth, it tastes pretty much like a rich Scotch Ale rather than a red – the malt really comes out from the start. Maybe a closer comparison would be Odell 90/-. The hops really weren’t that noticeable on the cask version (we’ll try the bottles later). Smooth, caramel malt flavours with a pretty hefty sweet finish, it would be a great winter warmer.
It was good to see the Guildford busy for the launch – a mix of local beer notables (such as they are), student friends of the four guys, and bemused regulars. But everyone was going for the Finch – and the comments were universally positive. Hopefully they will use this experience and go on to long careers in brewing (or distilling). But preferably brewing.
Kenny at the Beer Monkey was also present at the launch, you can read his thoughts here. If you missed out at the Guildford, casks of Finch have been sent to the following Edinburgh pubs – The Blue Blazer, Bow Bar, Cloisters, Doctors, Holyrood 9A, Jenny Ha’s, Pear Tree Inn, Stockbridge Tap. Bottles should be available from Appellation Wines and other local outlets. Visit the Natural Selection Brewing website for more details…