Bands, festivals and the lot are releasing branded booze by the dozens these days. GRIMM makes it its mission to get to the bottom (of the bottle) of this trend with insightful reviews and extra backgrounds. So sit back, PICK YOUR POISON, and discover all you need to know about your favorite band's alcoholic brands!
Iron Maiden and Robinsons Brewery have been collaborating quite a few times already and so far no less than four different beers came out of Bruce Dickinson's visits to the brewery in Stockport, England. While there is a stronger Trooper 666, a Red 'n' Black Porter and the recent Belgian dubbel Hallowed as a tribute to Belgium's brewing traditions, it all started with the Trooper. Just like Iron Maiden is one of Great Britain's most iconic and classic heavy metal bands, Robinsons Brewery is no unknown name in the British brewing world either. The brewery dates back to 1838 and is now run by the fifth and sixth generations of the Robinsons. Dickinson himself was also quite impressed with the offer to work together:
"I'm a lifelong fan of traditional English ale; I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when we were asked to create our own beer. I have to say that I was very nervous: Robinsons are the only people I have had to audition for in 30 years. Their magic has been to create the alchemical wedding of flavour and texture that is "Trooper". I love it."
The collaboration became quite a success story. When Robinsons started brewing the beer in May 2013, it took only eight weeks before the brewery produced one million pints of Trooper. We can only guess how many millions more have been sold since. The beer is so popular it even has its own website: www.ironmaidenbeer.com. As a classic English ESB beer (Extra Special / Strong Bitter), it is probably one of the most checked-in beers on our Pick Your Poison list on Untappd and likely the beer that inspired many other bands and musicians to start developing and releasing these collaboration brews themselves. So we here at Pick Your Poison felt obliged to include a review of this iconic brew to our catalog. But of course, as always, we wanted to know if this beer is worth your hard earned bucks when you're thirsty and out looking for some metal?
As we'll explain below the Trooper comes in different packages and travels around the world. At least for me (C'kes), I could not taste the Trooper in its best condition. First of all, I had a plastic bottle and secondly it had traveled quite a distance before it ended up in my fridge. When poured the Trooper remained as foamless as Trooper Eddie is bald. This is not too weird for an English ale of course. Also the copper to amber colour and the medium clear appearance fits the traditional image of an English ESB beer. Despite the name of the style, these beers are often not that bitter at all. Also with the Trooper, the aroma mainly seems to consist of sweet malts. The first sip unveils little to low carbonation and a light to medium body. The sweet malts return notably present in the flavor as well. However, also caramel and biscuits make their presence known throughout the tasting. The beer has a short finish. The presence of hops seem to have disappeared despite the promise in the brewery's taste description:
Malt flavours and citric notes from a unique blend of Bobec, Goldings and Cascade hops dominate this deep golden ale with a subtle hint of lemon.
Whether this was due to the packaging conditions or the way or time the beer was preserved before it reached my glass remains unknown. I am left a bit underwhelmed. Unlike the song, the Trooper turns out quite a simple beer. We must add, however, that despite its lack of complexity it does contain a certain character due to its fidelity with English heritage and brewing styles unlike the Motorhead Bastards lager or the AC/DC pilsner who were just cheap beers in an expensive package. While these are just a fast way to spend your money at a concert, we will not evade another taste experience of the Trooper. Preferably not a concert or from a bottle that has traveled a long way, though. The next attempt must be closer to the source in an English pub in companion of the traditional ales and styles it claims to stay true to.
Just like Iron Maiden's Eddie mascot had gone through some face-lifts over the years, also the packaging of the Trooper beer can be found in many variations. The ale is available in cans, casks, glass bottles and plastic bottles with different label artworks. We had both a classic glass bottle with the original cover artwork of Eddie with blue trousers, red army coat the Union flag (Vaim), and a plastic bottle with a modern portraying of Eddie as a native Mayan from the last Book of Souls album (C'kes). The latter was a special edition for the world tour accompanying the latest album and probably was sold in this format to meet legislation of some countries, where only plastic bottles can be sold at concerts due to safety concerns. We are generally no fan of beers in plastic bottles so we would go for a can or glass bottle every time. Not much more original information could be found on the bottle as it contained the 'best before' message in a multiple of languages for buyers all across the world.
We would love to go over to the UK and try the cask version, or 'real ale' version as the Brits like to call it. With a totally different way preserving the 'lively' beer without carbon dioxide pressure it obviously influences the flavor as well. As Dickinson explains in the video above they tried to create a bottled (and filtered) version of a cask ale. This allows the beer to be stored longer in your fridge. However, from our taste experience we would recommend you to drink your Trooper as fresh as possible!