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The International Centre for Brewing & Distilling

A unique teaching & research facility meeting the needs of the brewing, distilling & malting industries worldwide

News & events

IDL Summer School 2018

Distance Learning Summer School 2018

Many thanks to Abercrombie Copperworks, Arbikie Distillery, Inveralmond Brewery, Glenkinchie Distillery, Glasgow Distillery, Tennents Brewery, Simpsons Malt and Stewart Brewing for hosting visits during this years summer school - your support is very much appreciated.

EG 2018

Spirited Botanists III

Congratulations to the team who worked with Edinburgh Gin this year on a special release gin - we look forward to launch!



Congratulations to 2017 Graduate Gavin Edwards on recognition of his MSc research with Deanston Distillery!

Gavin Edwards Deanston



IBD logo

 IBD Scottish Section: New Look ICBD, Tuesday 23rd January.




Finalists in Knowledge Exchange Awards.

The finalists for the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2018 have been revealed, reflecting an impressive diversity of business-academic collaborations involving 13 universities in Scotland.

Heriot-Watt has two finalists, in the Social and Environmental Impact and the Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Exchange categories.

The Social and Environmental Impact award is for a collaborative business-academic project that has produced significant social or environmental impacts contributing towards a better, fairer and more sustainable future.

Our finalist is Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (Tain), pioneered by The Glenmorangie Company in partnership with Heriot-Watt University and the Marine Conservation Society, aims to restore native European oysters to the Dornoch Firth to enhance biodiversity and, together with an anaerobic digestion plant, purify the by-products from the distillation process – an environmental first for a distillery.

The Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Exchange category recognises an individual who has played a pivotal role in knowledge exchange in Scotland, and the finalist is Dr Annie Hill, Associate Professor, International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, Heriot-Watt University. As founding Vice-Chair of the member-based Scottish Craft Distillers Association (SCDA), Dr Hill has supported numerous new businesses as they enter the industry.

It's fantastic to have such deserving finalists who reflect our reputation as a leader in knowledge exchange
Dr Grant Sellar, Business Development Executive
Dr Grant Sellar, from the Business and Enterprise team, said: "It's fantastic to have such deserving finalists who reflect our reputation as a leader in knowledge exchange and the benefit of sharing of expertise, ideas and evidence between businesses and universities."

The awards, run by Interface, recognise, reward and celebrate impacts achieved through collaborative business and academic partnerships.



Dr Annie Hill SCDA


Supporting Craft Distilling

The ICBD was delighted to host an event for new distillers with the Scottish Craft Distillers Association on Wednesday 22nd November. A range of talks, including support for businesses and experiences of starting up a new distillery were presented followed by tours of our facilities. Many thanks to Scotland Food & Drink, Organic Architects, Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers and Verdant Distillers for presentations.

Any business interested in working with us and our students is welcome to get in touch with either Annie (; distilling/microbiology) or Dawn (; brewing/co-products).




Lindores Abbey Scholarship

Lindores Abbey, located in Newburgh, Fife has just announced a new Scholarship which will be awarded to a student from Fife joining the MSc Brewing & Distilling Programme. The Scholarship is designed to contribute to the cost of textbooks and membership of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling.

Full press release here.



Leandro IBD Prize 2017

Congratulations to distance learning student Leandro Meiners on receiving the Insitute of Brewing & Distilling GCB Brewers' Company Livery Award! 




BSc Honours Brewing & Distiling (2017) graduate Iain Robertson has been appointed distiller at the R&B Distillers' Raasay Distillery. The distillery is due to open in September 2017. 

BBC Announcement, 12th July 2017.




NSB2017: New Beer Launch

Thursday 29th June @OX184, Cowgate, Edinburgh


Four Heriot-Watt masters students launched Natural Selection Brewing’s most recent creation, Common Ancestor, at OX184 on Cowgate, Edinburgh, on Thursday 29 June. The launch night featured guest speaker Roger Protz. This collaborative project, now in its seventh year, is between selected MSc Brewing and Distilling students at the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling and Stewart Brewing. These students are tasked with the challenge to trial beer recipes, brand their own product, brew 5000 litres of their chosen creation and sell it across the UK. The name, Natural Selection Brewing, stems from the project’s evolutionary developments which take place each academic year, with the new students adding their own creativity and innovative ideas to drive the project in a different direction. 

This year’s beer, called Common Ancestor, is a 5.2% ABV California Common. The style originates from California in the 19thCentury, where lager strains of yeast were fermented at higher than normal temperatures due to a lack of viable temperature control options. Patrick Smith, Project Marketer, describes the beer as “an effervescent ale/lager hybrid, with caramel, citrus and pine notes, thanks to a liberal dosing of Dr. Rudi and Chinook hops. A slight hint of juniper complements this nicely. Our beer has evolved from the traditional California Common style to be fit for modern day consumption”.

Mark Ritchie, Head Brewer for the project, said “A California Common, being relatively unexplored by the craft beer scene, gave us a lot of scope to play around with and add our own twists. It’s a slightly unusual, but still very drinkable style”.

“We wanted to show that lagers can be exciting” adds Philip Sisson, Project Coordinator, “We’ve used a lot of citrusy hops during the end of the boil and fermentation to maximize flavour and aroma. The small addition of juniper also brings an extra dimension to the beer. It should be readily enjoyable by both craft beer enthusiasts, as well as traditional cask drinkers”.  

The style works well in both cask and keg format and will be distributed across Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Newcastle and London in both these formats, as well as bottles.

The beer’s launch night at Cowgate’s OX184 is open to the public to allow people the very first taste of Common Ancestor. Two types of ticket are available for purchase at the Stewart Brewing website. A £12.50 ticket includes a talk with guest speaker and beer journalist, Roger Protz, as well as an intimate evolution tasting of how this year’s beer has developed (doors 6.00pm for 6.30pm talk). Alternatively, a £7.50 ticket provides admission at 7.30pm. Both tickets include one pint of Common Ancestor, a commemorative glass and bar snacks. Keg, cask and bottle formats will be available, as well as access to Natural Selection Brewing’s limited edition sherry barrel-aged Belgian Quadrupel, Aged Ancestor. There will be a raffle in aid of Marie Curie on the night, with various beer-related prizes, including an evolution gift box of each of this year’s trial brews.

Keep up to date with the team at:









Chair of the Scottish Craft Distillers Association and ICBD Honorary Professor, Alan Wolstenholme, and Julie Hesketh-Laird, Deputy Chief Executive and Acting CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two Associations on Thursday 9th February. MSP Fergus Ewing and Dr Annie Hill (ICBD and Co-Founder of the Scottish Craft Distillers Association) also attended the signing which took place at Glasgow Distillery.

Press releases:

Scotch Whisky Association

Scottish Daily Record

Just Drinks

 FoodBev Media

Scottish Herald


Come and see us in Glasgow in 2017!




Graduation Congratulations!

A record number of Brewing and Distilling students graduated with either the MSc or Postgraduate Diploma in Brewing & Distilling at the ceremony on Friday 18th November. In the last graduation ceremony for the School of Life Sciences over 60 students received their awards with MSc graduate Andrew Goulet awarded both The Worshipful Company of Brewers Prize and The Watt Club Postgraduate Medal.




Dr. Dawn Maskell appointed as new Head of the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD): 1st November 2016

Dawn, who graduated from Heriot-Watt with a BSc Hons in Brewing and Distilling in 1998, will manage the ICDB and its partnership with the Institute for Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering within the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Dawn has been at Heriot-Watt University since 2011, focusing much of her current work on byproduct valorisation and sustainability within brewing and distilling. Dawn's PhD was carried out at Oxford-Brookes University in ageing and stress tolerance of Saccharomyces species under the supervision of Katherine Smart. She sits on the Board of Examiners for the Institute of Brewing and Distilling Diploma in Brewing and is also on the organising committee for the 2017 Worldwide Distilled Spirits Conference. Dawn brings more than 12 years of experience of commercial and research brewing to the ICBD, and will be a major asset as we seek to grow and develop the ICBD's world-renowned and respected activities in teaching, research and industrial collaboration.

Dawn said, "It is a privilege to be offered the chance to take control of such a prestigious group as the ICBD and I look forward to building our current partnerships and developing new relationships as the ICBD seeks to grow into new areas whilst continuing to deliver our highly rated undergraduate and postgraduate programs in brewing and distilling."




beer: science in a glass

Beer: Science in a Glass


Sponsored by the Society for Applied Microbiology, Dr Annie Hill teamed up with Battledown Brewery in Cheltenham to present "Beer: Science in a Glass" at this years Cheltenham Science Festival. Chaired by Quentin Cooper, the brewing process and a selection of raw materials were covered along with samples of Battledown beers with a sell-out audience on Tuesday 7th June.




Women in Brewing

Dr Annie Hill and PhD student Margaux Huissman joined Jess Burman from Belhaven Brewery, Isla Mercer from Lerwick Brewery and Jo Stewart from Stewart Brewing, to speak at a special event marking International Women's Day on March 8th. Over 30 men and women attended the event at Stewart Brewing's Loanhead Brewery.


In the news: 


Spirited Botanists - Gin Guild News


Incorporation of Maltmen Awards

Maltmen 2015

Congratulations to Max Gruenke and Oliver Salvesen, winners of the best Third Year BSc Brewing & Distilling student awards from the Incorporation of Maltmen. Pictured with Professor Alex Speers, Professor Sir Geoff Palmer and Dr James Bryce.


Graduate News:

Green Project Funding

Honours Graduate Michael Mallot and current MSc student Guillermo recently won 20,000USD through a Carlsberg "Cheers to Green Ideas" competition for their idea of synergistic microalgae cultivation using brewing waste water and waste products to milk lipids for biofuel production. Congratulations!

Amy Cockburn

Congratulations to Amy Cockburn, a First Class Honours graduate in 2008, who was listed as number 2 in a list of women in the drinks industry to watch out for!

More details available at:


Activities in 2015:

GGS Graduation Group

Honorary Degree for Professor Graham Stewart 

Thursday 19th November





Hop Day

Friday 6th November



The First UK Craft Distillers Conference

5th & 6th October

The Scottish Craft Distillers Association hosted the first ever national UK Craft Distillers Conference at the Pitlochry in October with over 190 delegates. A wide range of presentations were given covering raw materials, quality control, collaborative research on Gin Botanicals and Fruit Spirits in addition to Energy usage and Waste Valorisation.

For further information on the Scottish Craft Distillers Association, please
see the SCDA website.



Wherever you are in the world, you're unlikely to be far from a graduate of Heriot-Watt.

Heriot Watt Former Brewing Students Association: Midseason Event

Friday 18th September 

More information is available through the ICBD twitter (//">@ICBDatHWU)




Natural Selection Brewing vs Spirited Botanists!

 Thursday 30th July

Our MSc Brewing & Distilling project teams celebrated their work with an event at The Cask & Still, Leith Walk, Edinburgh in July. There was a one-off double-dry-hopped cask of Bitter Descent along with Seaside Gin.



ICBD 25 anniversary

ICBD Anniversary Dinner


Over 350 guests came together recently to celebrate the first 25 years of the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) at Heriot-Watt University.

Alumni, students, staff and supporters all raised a glass to celebrate a quarter century of the only organisation in the UK to offer both Honours, Masters  and Doctorate degrees in Brewing and Distilling. Guest speakers included Dr Pearse Lyons, President of Alltech Lexington Brewing and David Frost CMG, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association.
The evening, organised in collaboration between the ICBD and Heriot-Watt's Development & Alumni Relations Office, was brought together by our wonderful MC for the night, Frances Cairncross. You can view a selection of photos from the dinner at ICBD 25th Anniversary Dinner.

The evening also saw a passing of a baton as Roy Summers, the outgoing Chair of the ICBD Advisory Board, was presented with a commemorative Quaich by Professor Dr Alan Barclay, who has taken on the role. Alan will lead the board and work with the ICBD to expand and improve its facilities and the Centre’s research and educational outputs.

ICBD graduates are recognised across the world as having first-class education and training in all aspects of the industry. Notable alumni have founded many leading breweries and distilleries, including Stewart Brewing, Brew Dog and Millstone Spirits.

The next 25 years are already looking bright, with £132,500 raised towards a £250,000 capital campaign to refurbish and redesign ICBD’s premises. This will significantly enhance the student experience, ensuring ICBD graduates remain some of the best in the world. To find out more about how this aim can be supported, go to Our alumni - ICBD.




2nd Annual "Ginposium", Covent Garden, London

Thursday 30th April

Heriot-Watt University and The Gin Guild


IBD Scottish Section Events:

January 2015: Videoconference event. Details including posters and presentations are available on our publications page.


















ICBD on Twitter