Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews


Robinsons Brewery
United Kingdom

Style: ESB
ABV: 4.7%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Pair With:
Surprise! Once again, I’m back. And once again, it’s International Month at! That means we’ll be looking at brews from around the globe instead of those in our backyard.

Normally I like to start International Month with seminal classics, usually out of Belgium or Germany. Tonight’s review, though, while a seminal classic (in a different sensory experience), comes out of England. And, of course, what I’m talking about is the god-like metal band Iron Maiden.

All European metal is derivative of Iron Maiden. It isn’t even debatable. Whether its death metal coming out of Poland, black metal out of England, or funeral doom metal out of Sweden, each subgenre can trace its roots linearly back to Iron Maiden. Same can be said of most American heavy, speed, and thrash metal—Metallica wouldn’t have existed (do they still exist?) if it weren’t for Steve Harris and company. Hell, you might be able to give them credit for some of the proto-punk of the early ’80s. (Listen to Agent Orange’s Living In Darkness next to Iron Maiden’s self-titled debut and don’t tell me there’s a shit-ton of similarities. Seriously. Do it, ya pansy!)

Needless to say, I’m a HUGE Iron Maiden fan. One of the first albums I owned was Somewhere In Time, which I listened to top-volume on my cheap-ass genuine Panaphonics “walkman” (a portable music cassette player, for anyone under 30) while cultivating corn on our 60-year-old International Model M tractor. (Tedious work—the corn was only a few inches tall, so I had to drive at the tractor’s lowest speed so I didn’t bury the plants with the upturned dirt. So, less than one mile per hour. It would take me days to cultivate a single field. Then when I got them all done, I had to turn around and do them all again, albeit a little faster this time, since the corn had grown a bit by then.) Anyway, Somewhere In Time got me through the tedium.

So what the fuck does all of this have to do with beer? I’m getting there, fer chrissakes! Tonight’s brew is called Trooper, named for one of Iron Maiden’s iconic songs off of their 1983 album Piece Of Mind. While I think that is one of their weaker earlier albums, there’s a reason why “The Trooper” is a classic: because it fucking rocks. Listen to that and you can see why everyone from Metallica to Motörhead sounds the way they do. Listen to it live (I did in Chicago on Maiden’s Brave New World tour) and risk having your heart explode—it’s that fast. Yngwie fucking Malmsteen fast. (Also influenced hugely by Iron Maiden, although I doubt he would ever admit to being influenced by anyone.)

Again, what does this have to with beer? Trooper (the beer) was formulated by Iron Maiden lead singer/747 pilot/champion fencer/cancer survivor/constantly-in-motion-do-everything-in-the-world Bruce Dickinson, because apparently he didn’t have anything else to do with all that downtime. Its brewed by the independently-owned, 178-year-old Robinsons in Stockport, England. While a lot of people not into metal would look at Iron Maiden as “extreme,” this beer is decidedly not. It comes from the culture that gave us Americans the “session beer“ and Trooper falls right within that definition (at least for us Americans used to 6-plus percent ABV pale ales).

It pours a beautiful caramel color, with a restrained, off-white head. The nose is toffee and tiny notes of citrus, probably from the very American Cascade hops. The body is quite light for a craft brew—you won’t be drinking this one for muscle—with a sharp, not-quite-metallic mouthfeel. A touch of nutty malt starts things out, but it quickly dissipates to a watery middle before a short finish nipped off by earthy Goldings hops.

Like I said, decidedly small in body, but Trooper’s got enough nuance to keep an old metal head and Beer Dork like myself interested throughout the bottle. Think of it as a session ESB and, while you won’t be blown away, you won’t be disappointed, either. If you want a little more oomph in your Trooper, maybe look for their special edition 666 version (6.66 percent ABV, kind of a no-brainer if you know anything about Iron Maiden), which I’ve yet to try. Either way, UP THE IRONS!

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on February 1, 2016.
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