When it was first launched a couple of years ago, my initial verdict was that it was a bit lacklustre, and several tastings since in both cask and bottle haven’t really changed that opinion. It’s important to remember, though, that Iron Maiden are one of the few rock bands to make a big point of their British identity, and it was Bruce Dickinson’s intention to produce a classic British-style ale like those he enjoyed around 1980, not an international lager or a US-style hop-bomb IPA. Incidentally, Bruce Dickinson is about a year older than me, and has certainly flown more aeroplanes, although probably driven fewer Morris Marinas.
Trooper has certainly been a great success for Robinsons, with the ten millionth pint mark recently being passed, and contributing to the brewery recording its highest production level for fifteen years. It’s good to see a long-established family brewery enjoying such success and exporting beer all round the world.
Unlike some others, I really like Robinsons beers in general. When well kept, Wizard, Dizzy Blonde, Unicorn and most of their seasonals, are some of the most palatable beers around. But Trooper just seems to fall between two stools. It’s not an old-fashioned, rich, chestnut English ale, in the way that Wychwood’s Status Quo beer Piledriver was. But, on the other hand, neither is it a modern, pale, hoppy beer. In the past, Robinsons have brewed an excellent rich “winter bitter” called Robin, which could have made the basis for an English heavy metal beer to rival Hobgoblin. Or they could have made a version of Dizzy Blonde turned up to 11 – light, with distinct hop character, but not overwhelmingly so. But Trooper just seems to be neither one thing nor the other.
It will be interesting to see how the limited edition celebration version, the 6.6% ABV Trooper 666, turns out. Unfortunately Robinsons have said it will only be available as a bottled beer, but it would be nice if they could put some into casks, maybe as part of their White Label series. Also hopefully it will be sold in 500ml bottles, not just 330ml ones.