More than one pint was made available…
Time certainly flies along in the world of brewing – was it really twelve months ago that we ducked into the Guildford Arms for the debut of Natural Selection’s first beer? It must have been, as the annual project for MSc students at Heriot-Watt has come round again. Each year – in conjunction with Stewart Brewing and the ICBD – four are picked to design, produce, market and sell a beer of their very own – gaining valuable experience in how the industry works.
For 2012, those lucky young things are Kirsten Ewer (Quality Control), John Woodford (Lead Brewer), Shane O’Beirne (Sales & Marketing) and Denis Johnstone (
drums PR and Brand Development). After a lot of thought – neatly captured on their blog, the decision was made to go for a 4.8% summer wheat beer – Anorak. A cheerful play on words regarding beer geekery and the Scottish summer (now eerily prophetic), it was launched last night at the Stockbridge Tap.
The team wanted their beer to be a little unusual, and not just the ‘banana and clove’ branch of the wheat family. So, they dry-hopped the bejesus out of it, ending up with a style-straddling version that leaned in a few directions at once. Of course, to be honest, the quality of the final beer is far less important that the process behind it – and what the foursome learned over the course of the year.
Unlike last year, that really isn’t an issue this time. Whereas Finch ended up very different from what was intended, having spoken to the team Anorak pretty much hit the nail on the head. Soft, wheaty – it reminded me more of an unfiltered lager, with a wispy, grassy edge to the finish. On cask, it was lovely – albeit with hardly any wheat beer-esque head. Very drinkable, easy to session – exactly as was hoped.
The guys also released a special version – Anorak Snozberry. After cornering Denis he admitted the lack of Wonka was offset by additions of blackberry, raspberry, blueberry and mango. Individually fruited versions of the beer are going to appear in Edinburgh pubs soon, but the Snozberry at launch had all four blended together. I actually preferred it to the original Anorak – it tasted predominantly of raspberry, the bitter sharpness working really well with the wheaty flavours.
You have to give a huge hand to the Natural Selection Team. After speaking to various people involved in the scheme, all agree they worked their socks off – and have certainly shifted far more beer than the previous students. Putting in the miles, talking to pubs and bottle shops, working on their recipe – and getting some great branding – have all paid off. Some might raise an eyebrow at the name – but it works. Plus, the pump clips are some of the best I’ve seen.
The first cask went in three hours, and within 4½ both the second cask and the Snozberry were done. Look out for the green-labelled bottles in off-licences across the city from this week, and also keep an eye out for the one-off befruited casks. To underline the work they have put in, the students have also secured a second launch for Anorak in London – to be held on Monday the 16th at the Rake in Borough Market, so if you’re in the other capital, head down.