Hanlons Stormstay (500ml bottle, 5.0% ABV)
Hanlons used to be called O’Hanlons, but have dropped both the apostrophe (graphic designers seem to be allergic to punctuation) and the ‘O’. Perhaps they popped it into a time machine and sent it back to famed Hollywood producer David O Selznick (of ‘Gone With the Wind’ fame) who is reputed to have added the O to his name just for effect.
And talking of wind, a stormstay is a nautical term for a type of sail, though one so obscure that searches through the dictionary and even the Internet turn up precious few results. I had to consult a salty sea dog with mutton-chop sideburns who was splicing the mainbrace of the HMS Victory down in Portsmouth harbour.
Stormstay is classic enough that you can imagine it being served up on the Victory as part of a sailor’s booze rations, and the ratings quaffing it by the tankard.
It’s a deep chestnut colour, with aromas of toffee, bread and floral hops. The taste is very much in the ‘malty’ category: rich and slightly sweet, with flavours of toffee, chocolate and a hint of liquorice. Modest carbonation is the order of the day – who needs a bloated sailor on deck? The finish has a slight bitterness, but the malt flavours linger too. It’s a warming, bear hug of a beer.
Written by Richard Salsbury