A lot of musicians have put their names and logos on alcoholic beverages in recent years (I even reviewed the AC/DC beer on this site), but the one product I’ve been searching for the last 2 years has been the Iron Maiden Trooper Ale. It is not being stocked in Quebec (all alcohol sale is handled by the provincial government who decides what to import or not), and I wasn’t able to locate some in my travels. But on a recent trip to New Jersey (that will be detailed in my other blog www.nhl30.com), I stopped at a liquor store in Red Bank and, lo and behold, I found the holy grail of beers. I almost missed it too: I didn’t know it was available in cans as I’d only seen pictures of the bottles. Maybe a concession to the american market? At 13$ for a 4-pack, it is definitely a premium beer, or maybe we’re overpaying a little for the name… And the strangest thing is that, after making my purchase, i got into my car, punched in my home address on the GPS, and saw on the map that I was 666KM from home. Spooky!
Despite my misgivings about beer in a can, I must say that it is a beautiful package. It is black and shiny, with a picture of Eddie (from the Trooper single cover) in medallion on the front, topped by the mention “Created by Iron Maiden”, although the back of the can claims it was created by vocalist Bruce Dickinson in collaboration with Robinsons Brewery of Cheshire, England. The back of the can contains some historical information about the famous Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean war that inspired the lyrics to “The Trooper”, one of their most famous songs that gave this beer its name.
I was really anxious to taste it, so I made sure it was cold, and settled down to taste it. At first pour, I was surprised by how golden it is; I’m not sure why, but I expected a paler beer. At a little over a pint (it is identical to the Guinness cans), the can holds a decent sized drink. The recipe claims a unique blend of three hops, Bobec, Goldings and Cascade, but I won’t pretend to know the difference. The citric notes and subtle hint of lemon though are quite obvious as it is a rather bitter brew. It’s not uncommon in beers of this colour, but it’s not what I prefer to be honest. Add to this bitterness the fact that it has 4.7% alcohol content, and you have a really strong beer. I’m not sure I’d have one just to drink on a hot summer day, but coupled with pub food, it’s probably a better match (I tried it with a chicken dish but it overpowered the food). I can imagine sitting down with a burger and fries (chips), and chasing it down with a cold Trooper while watching a West Ham United football game (This being Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris’ favourite club). Up the Irons! Cheers.