Sweet sweet tablet (ale)

Make sure you have a wee taste of our one-off brew this weekend if you’re at the Midsummer beer happening in Stonehaven

Sweet Descent is a classic American cream-ale, light and easy-drinking, but with a Scottish twist. We popped one kilo of home-made tablet into the boil - our little nod to the this year’s celebration of Scottish food and drink

Pouring golden at 5.3%, light bodied, and crisp and clean with a slight caramel sweetness from the tablet. About as refreshing as tablet gets!


Beer launch – the bitter descends

Bitter Descent is finally here. Come and celebrate the launch of this year’s beer from Natural Selection Brewing, with live music from Edinburgh’s own award-winning Blues band, The Blueswater, live jazz, soul/funk music, and plenty of beer, from 7pm until late.

New Amphion and Teviot Lounge, Teviot Row House, Thursday July 2nd, 2015 £8 earlybird until mid-June/£10 on the door – includes first pint and souvenir glass


Entrance includes your first pint, a souvenir pint glass, access to three unique beers before anyone else in the UK – two of which are on for one-night only – and a full evening of entertainment.

Food will be available, the New Amphion will be serving up keg and cans, and the Teviot Lounge will double as our cask bar for specialty brews.

This is the culmination of over six months of work for us, and we’re really proud of the result. Natural Selection Brewing is a collaborative project between the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, ourselves – MSc students at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh – and renowned Edinburgh brewers Stewart Brewing, and it’s the fifth year of excellent beer. We hope you enjoy it.

Buy tickets here

First Descent this weekend at Summerhall

Our first one-off beer will be available at festivALE in Summerhall this weekend 15th/16th May – make sure you pass by to try some.

It’s a continuously hopped SMASH beer – Single Malt And Single Hop – using Maris Otter and Belma. The simple combination gives the fruity Belma plenty of space to show what it can do, with hops added to the mash, before the boil, every 10 minutes until flameout, and to the cask. Should be very session-able, and a wee taste of what’s to come when Bitter Descent lands in Edinburgh on July 2nd.

For more on the festival, and to check timings and prices


Bitter Descent: the return of the extra special bitter

When Darwin wrote the Descent of Man he focused on the role of sexual-selection in the evolution of species from a single common ancestor. We’ve focused on the evolution of the American Extra Special Bitter from its humble origins, the “pint of bitter” found in every real ale pub across the UK. Bitter Descent, the fifth beer from Natural Selection Brewing, is born, and it’s coming to a pub near you in July.

bitter descent

The extra special bitter is the style that sparked the craft beer revolution in the US, back in the 70s and 80s. It’s a style our brewer Reade grew up on in Texas, and it’s a beer that, much like IPA, has travelled to the US and returns to sender stronger and more hop-forward. Ours will aim to honour the classic British-style bitter, but with all-American hops. It will be dangerously drinkable, and we can’t wait for you all to try it.

The first brew is done, and it’s bubbling away nicely in the fermentation tank. The second is coming up soon, and the beer will be launched on July 2nd in the Teviot, Edinburgh, more details to come. Save the date!

Welcome all to this year’s Natural Selection

Over the next three months we’re going to be getting to grips with the UK beer market and commercial-scale brewing, to bring you the next leaf on the Natural Selection family tree.

We’ll be developing a brand new beer from scratch, drawing on the success of the previous years – proud descendants of a red ale, 'Finch', a summer wheat beer, 'Anorak', a New World Saison, 'Origin', and an all-British IPA, 'Mutiny on the Beagle'.

natural selection 5

Sarah will be project managing, and Rich will be making sure the beer is out on the market. Reade, our Texan brewer, will be bringing his experience from the Peticolas brewery in Dallas, and I’ll be bringing five years of immersion in Belgian beer from my adopted home Brussels. For all of us this will be the first time we champion a recipe from the brewer’s paddle to the bar taps.

This might be our first post, but it’s not the beginning of the project. We’ve been hard at work since January. We’ve already test-brewed a New Zealand pale, an Extra Special Bitter, a Black IPA and an Irish red ale. We’ve narrowed down to a single style, although we’re not going to tell you which one yet. We’ve refined a pilot recipe in the Stewart Brewing craft beer kitchen, and on the Heriot-Watt one-barrel kit, and We’ve already tested out four variants.

We set out on an, as yet, unsuccessful search for unique yeast amongst the Edinburgh Museum’s archives, swabbing for spores amongst the old ceramic bottles, barrel heads, cask taps and brewing clogs from now-extinct Edinburgh breweries. We’ve also been getting an idea of what people want to drink, with trips to Aberdeen, and around Edinburgh, to scope-out potential sales. We need to project our sales before we even set a brew date. All this while trying to keep on top of brand development, project-planning, test-brews, finances and exams. A very enviable baptism of beer.

With thanks to Stewart Brewing, Heriot-Watt and the International Centre of Brewing and Distilling, we’ll be brewing on the full kit in June, and bringing you a brand new beer in July. Watch this space!

Sam, Reade, Sarah and Rich

If you want to read more, then check out the last two editions of Ferment and an update in the sltn