While my friend Ken and I waited to settle our tab at the local watering hole, he said “this is so surreal. Back in 1983, when I was listening to [the Iron Maiden album] Piece of Mind I never in a million years imagined I’d be drinking an Iron Maiden beer!” My friend Ken’s reflection touched me. We were teenagers at the time each one living in our native countries, too young to drink and too naive to imagine a beer with Eddie adorning the bottle. I am sure the sentiment is shared by the millions of Iron Maiden fans who can now in the USA get a hold of the Iron Maiden “Trooper” beer, brewed by Robinsons Brewery in Stockport, England from a recipe created by Bruce Dickinson, the band’s lead singer (who is also a pilot and an accomplished fencer, may I add.)
I’ve been an avid craft beer drinker for nearly a decade now (and a regular beer drinker for, er, ne’er mind.) One’s palate changes little by little through the years as one gets used to the taste of the different beer styles. I began with the sours, then switched to the stouts, and slowly welcomed the hoppy beers. Nowadays I prefer strong-flavored beers like triple IPAs (we know them lovingly as the “palate killers”) and Russian Imperial Stouts, so naturally before I tasted The Trooper beer I was a little scared it would be too bland for my experienced palate. Would it live up to my expectations? Would the beer suck and my credibility be tarnished after I’d been advocating this as-of-yet untasted beer for months? If I didn’t like it, would it mean I’m a beer snob? Fortunately the fears were unfounded. The Trooper was well liked by fellow friends and beer drinkers alike and received the approval from my favorite Englishman and a beer connoisseur par excellence: my husband.
The beer is a straight-up English Ale, and a perfect example of the kind. The aroma, body and taste makes one think one is in a stone-walled pub with a name like Ye Ole Quenay Pub, and a door frame so low one has to bend down to get in.
The chosen brewery, Robinsons, has been in existence over 170 years. The Trooper beer sold in 8 weeks what they had projected to sell in the first six months: a million pints! It is the first time in their nearly two-centuries of existence that a new brew sells at this rate. The demand has been so great that they are using the entire facility for this beer alone. This feat was achieved with little advertising and before a major supermarket in England started carrying the beer, which reminiscent of the band itself: with no radio airplay they continue to sell millions of records and sell out arenas all over the world.
I had been waiting for this release for months. I’d been a thorn on the distributor’s side trying to get a release date. Initially it was thought it would hit Florida in July, but it wasn’t until about a week ago that it started to be spotted in local stores. And at last I saw it at a local liquor warehouse and bought two bottles: one for immediate consumption and one to display next to my Iron Maiden memorabilia. Other fellow metalheads are buying cases. Fortunately stocking up on this beer is not necessary. Robinsons added the beer to their list of normally offered brews, so this beer is here to stay. Hurray! (or should I say “Murray!”…ba-dum-psh!)
The artwork on the bottle is a throwback to the Derek Riggs days, an Eddie clad in a torn military uniform holding a battered Union Jack flag looking as though he’s going to jump off the bottle and fight you for it. In fact, this label was too controversial for Sweden, where it was changed to depict a close-up of Eddie’s face. It is against the law in that country to show any war-depicting icons on alcoholic beverages.
The beer is delicious whether in the bottle or on draft. If you’re in Orlando, head on out to Oblivion Taproom who have it on draft at the moment. But don’t delay, the keg won’t last long.
I’ve been drenched with Iron Maiden’s music most of my life. Little did I know I’d be able to quench my physical thirst with them too. Up the Irons!