Wow. Where do I even begin with this one? We’re talking about the marriage of two of my favorite things ever; beer and the metal band Iron Maiden.
Some months ago, the band’s lead vocalist, Bruce Dickinson, contacted the lead brewer of one of his favorite brands to collaborate on making an Iron Maiden beer. Martyn Weeks from Cheshire’s historic Robinson’s Brewery immediately went to work with Dickinson – an avid ale enthusiast, among many other talents – to create Trooper.
Considering the imagery of Trooper – the band’s long-time mascot Eddie in his tattered Redcoat uniform clutching a saber and Union Jack flag adorn the label – and the lyrical content of the song that was the inspiration for the beer, I’m actually surprised that this isn’t a Russian imperial stout. See, the song is about the British fighting the Russians in the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War. After all, Russian imperial as a style originated in England.
Instead, Trooper is a classic British Extra Special Bitter, a style highly common throughout England. I have to wonder if they chose the common style on purpose as troopers have historically been comprised of the common citizens. Then again, if Iron Maiden had any songs about the British military farther east, they could’ve easily made this an India Pale Ale.
A common misconception about Iron Maiden is that their lyrics are evil and espouse the occult. I remember very clearly a friend of mine’s mother back in the 1980s blaming the band for her son’s unfortunate suicide. Yes, some of their songs touch on the fantastical, but many more involve social commentary, English history and literature, man’s role as harmful aggressors and those who bend religion to their own selfish needs. All set to incredibly wicked guitar playing and Dickinson’s powerful voice.
Bruce became so enthusiastic about their new beer that the brewery offered him the job of tour guide. Over in England, the beer is so popular that they’ve sold over 1 million pints in the first two months of production making it the fastest-selling in British history. To put it into perspective, local Pensacola Bay Brewery has been open for just under 3 years and only this week passed the million pint mark!
Now that it’s available in the States, let’s have a butcher’s, as they say in England, shall we? Trooper is a pretty amber color bordering on the orange. The head foams up about one finger’s worth and recedes rather quickly but leaves behind nice sticky lacing. True to form, Trooper has well-rounded scents of caramel with light touches of fresh bread and some herbal hops. Robinson’s actually uses American Cascade hops along with British Styrian and Slovenian Bobec to coax earthy and citrus flavors out from under the sweet malt. Fruity and soft-bodied, Trooper goes down without a fight.
Like the band said, “Iron Maiden will get you!” Scream for our beer, America!