Edinburgh taste buds to inform future of brewing

The Natural Selection Brewing team (from left): Damon Scott, Steven Kersley, Kevin Emms and Colin Lymer

A new beer is being developed specially for Edinburgh drinkers, but they'll have to step up to the bar smart-ish if they want to taste it.

Finch beer is being developed by a group of students at Heriot-Watt University's International Centre for Brewing & Distilling (ICBD) to try and find out if Edinburgh drinkers' tastes are moving from traditional Scottish malty beers to more hoppy beers, like those popular in America.

The beer, which is being produced in conjunction with Edinburgh's Stewart Brewing, is described as a 'robust red ale' and will be produced as a limited edition. It will be distributed through bars and beer merchants over the Festival period, with the launch being held on Thursday 21 July at the  Guildford Arms public house at 8.00pm.

The  ICBD team behind the beer's development, four postgraduate students from Scotland, Canada and the USA, say they hope the project will help to educate those who drink it about different options for beer tastes, while the data from the study will be made available to the brewing industry.

A taste for natural beer

We hope that by giving us feedback on how they feel about the new drink, we will help drinkers inform their own choices and provide valuable feedback to the industry on how tastes in all age groups may be developing

Steven Kersley, Natural Selection Brewing

They hope that, as a natural product with no additives or preservatives, it will appeal to beer drinkers willing to try new tastes. Team member Steven Kersley said: "Our initial research shows that, far from being stuck in their ways, many drinkers are prepared to try seven to ten new beers a month and we are hoping they'll be prepared to give Finch a try and let us know what they think.

"Most people know what they like, but they may not know why a particular flavour appeals. We hope that knowing that the new beer is more hoppy, and giving us their feedback on how they feel about that, will both help drinkers inform their own choices and provide valuable feedback to the industry on how tastes in all age groups may be developing.

"Along the way we're gaining valuable practical experience of developing, producing and marketing a new beer, working in conjunction with a commercial producer, which is bound to stand us in good stead when we move into the industry ourselves."

International Centre for Brewing & Distilling

Steve Stewart, founder of Edinburgh's Stewart Brewing worked closely with Dr David Quain a professor at the ICBD to create the project; both are graduates of Heriot-Watt's ICBD.

Steve Stewart said: "We are delighted to have the opportunity to support the ICBD students by brewing this novel and interesting beer for them. They are a very talented group, and having the opportunity to put theory into practice, to develop a beer from scratch through to seeing it on the bar and drinking it with your friends is a great learning experience.

"The depth of talent and passion among the brewing students at Heriot-Watt is immense, and with the interest in the craft brewing sector really heating up, it's great to get new people with new ideas and new beers into the industry."

The  International Centre for Brewing & Distilling (ICBD) at Heriot-Watt University is a unique teaching and research facility. The centre is based on a partnership between industry and academics, and makes up part of the School of Life Sciences located at the Edinburgh Campus of Heriot-Watt University.

Heriot-Watt is the only university in the UK to offer both Honours and Masters degrees in Brewing and Distilling. As such, the ICBD not only supplies the industry with new-blood graduates, but with services, expertise and facilities consistent with the standards required in the industry at local, national, and international levels.

The "Natural Selection Brewing" team

The team is:

  • Kevin Emms, project manager (from Vancouver, Canada)
  • Damon Scott, recipe developer/brewer (from Colorado, USA)
  • Steven Kersley, sales and marketing (from Oban, Scotland)
  • Colin Lymer, brand development and design (from Texas USA)

All four are completing their  MSc in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University and this project will be their Master thesis.

Follow the project on Twitter & Facebook

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