The Natural Selection project is a partnership between Stewart Brewing and the Heriot Watt International Centre for Brewing & Distilling. The Natural Selection Project is in its 5th year. Each year students are invited to apply to take part in this project. A team is chosen who then brew a beer at Stewart’s brewery, bottle it, develop a brand, market the beer, organise a launch party, sell and distribute the beer. It is great experience for the career these students want to go into, and each year, we love attending the launch event and stocking the final product.
The group began brewing back in January, experimenting with a New Zealand hopped Pale, a Black IPA, an Irish style Red Ale, before finally hitting on the style they wanted, which is an Extra Special Bitter. A style that is rooted in the traditional, balanced malt driven bitter, but boosted with American hops.
Each year, the name of the beer is inspired by Charles Darwin. Here is a bit more information on the idea behind this year’s beer:
“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.
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.”
The Launch Night
At the launch night, they had Bitter Descent on cask, keg and in can. We compared these versions, and cask was probably our favourite, just due to the floral fruitiness on cask. They had two other beers to try that night that they had brewed on Stewart’s smaller kit, just for the launch night. A wheated barley wine, which we really enjoyed, and a version of a German Alt, which wasn’t to all our tastes.
The Bitter Descent
So we have discussed the project, and the launch night, but what about the actual beer? We think it is really good. Very well balanced, and very easy drinking, with nice toasted malt notes, and fruity hops. We are one of the few places that will have it in bottle, so if you have had it in cask, keg and can, grab a bottle. We rather like it in bottle. Get a bottle here.