There’s an unsurprising amount of booze tied to music. From Slash, Lemmy and Frank Sinatra’s love of Jack Daniel’s, to AC/DC’s recent forays into the wine market, there’s always someone ready to stick an artist’s name on a bottle or advert and reap the rewards of association. There are fewer situations where the artist in question is actively involved in the making of said booze, and one of those rare times leads me to the subject of today’s post – Robinson’s Trooper, Iron Maiden’s beer, and Bruce Dickinson, one of my favourite people in the world.
I’m a bit of an Iron Maiden fan. Despite having only discovered them in the late 90s, into their third decade of existence, attempting (generally unsuccessfully) to play their songs became a common theme in my band of the time (the late, lamented Dead Karma) and they’ve stuck in the back of my head as one of my favourite bands.
The beer appeared last year and is named for The Trooper, a single of Iron Maiden’s from 1983 about the Charge of the Light Brigade. The beer’s pump clip takes the main image from the single’s cover – band mascot Eddie in uniform charging with a union flag in hand. Here’s what it sounds like:
The band haven’t changed a bit in the last 30 years…
While I rather like Iron Maiden, I have been especially impressed by vocalist, Bruce Dickinson. Operatic metal singer, internationally ranked fencer, commercial airline pilot, train lover and, from all reports, thoroughly nice bloke. He seems to be happy to turn his hand to pretty much anything and seems to annoyingly good at most of it. I met him briefly after the premiere of Chemical Wedding (the film which he co-wrote) at the Sci-Fi-London film festival and found him to be the nicest person in the room – polite, friendly and one of the few people not being a rude arsehole to the film festival volunteer who was handing out the beer (me).
Anyways, at 55 Bruce is still running up and down stages around the world (occasionally dressed a bit like Eddie on The Trooper’s record cover) and recently added another string to his polymath bow – ‘helping’ to brew this beer. While I’d assume that most bands wouldn’t actually get involved with the brewing, I’d be surprised if Bruce hadn’t stuck his hand in the process somewhere.
This isn’t Robinson’s first foray into the world of band tie-ins, with Elbow’s 2011 album “Build a Rocket Boys!” accompanied by a beer of the same name, a limited edition that seems to have disappeared at the end of last year. The intention of Trooper seems to be a little longer term:
The beer is brewed with Bobek, Goldings and Cascade, a mix of eastern European, English and US hops, but seems to be otherwise very traditional – this is a beer that is designed to appeal to the stereotypical real ale drinker in his 50s. Like Bruce Dickinson and a large chunk of the old-skool Maiden fans.
On the nose it’s quite sweet and malty with some jelly baby fruitiness and a welcome touch of leafy bitterness. To taste it continues the sweet and malty theme, with fruit the middle, toffee, sweet spice and some autumnal leaf earthiness. It also has a touch of cake, reminding me a bit of Wells’s Banana Bread beer. It finishes quite sweet, but that fades away to show off some hoppiness, both bitterness and tropical fruit.
I was expecting a significantly more boring beer and while it’s not going to set any craft beer fanatic on a path towards flat caps, whippets and pints of Bass (any more than the hipster acquisition of the first of the two of those would already suggest), it’s a solid pint and eminently drinkable. It’s also decently priced (if you’re not buying it from the shop by the Charcoal Grill at North Acton station – best kebab in West London), which my wallet is thankful for after the recent stocking of my cupboards with nothing but weird, small batch, allegedly craft beers. The best thing about it is that there’s now more of a chance that I won’t have to drink Tuborg when I go to gigs – it’s not a big increase but any change is welcome at this point.
Premium British Beer, 4.8%. ~£2 a bottle from IronMaidenBeer.com