I thought it would be fun to post my own notes on the beers that I sent for Beer Swap. And now that Alan from realalereviews has posted his own opinions of them, I can post mine. (This is Alan's photo of the beers too – I did take some photos before sending them, but later realised I'd photographed the preliminary selection rather than the final one!)
As it's made just down the road from me, it stands to reason that I just have to include the famous Glasgow-brewed lager with the big red logo. Of course I'm talking about West St Mungo Lager. It's my local brewery and it's the only beer that they bottle, so it's a must. An initial slight whiff of DMS gives way to a nice, pale proper Reinheitsgebot-konform lager with a respectably bitter finish. I must say it's better on draught though.
Colonsay 80/– : Grainy aroma, then chewy malt. It's full in body, slightly creamy compared with other 80/– beers and (I suspect) all malt, without getting sticky. Unobtrusive hops give it a subtly dry finish. Colonsay is a very small operation indeed, I understand — you won't even see their draught beer on the mainland because the ferry only goes three times a week.
Arran Ale: Dark gold with a crisp, foresty aroma almost reminiscent of elderflowers, light-bodied, woody and dry. I think this is a much more characterful beer than the more widely distributed Arran Dark and Arran Blonde, but I do worry that at just 3.8% it might be too light for these chilly December evenings.
Houston Crystal: Paler than the dark chocolate label would suggest, with a florally hoppy aroma and foretaste, pleasantly bitter on the palate and with slight black pepper finish. Malt is just enough to balance the hops.
The strange thing about this selection is that they're things I almost never buy in bottles myself. I drink at West regularly, but the Scottish beers I buy the most (other than BrewDog and Williams Bros, which I didn't include because they're so widely distributed that I assumed Alan would already have tasted them) — are the ones I see on cask in my locals. For instance, I would have loved to send some Fyne Ales beer, but it's not available in bottles anywhere in Glasgow, and I think a couple of Houston's other beers are better than Crystal.
I haven't read Alan's review yet. Compare and contrast.