Admit it. Gimmicky one-off. That's the first thing you thought of when you heard about Iron Maiden's Trooper beer. Why wouldn't you? For the most part, gimmicks are the province of Big Beer, and we all know what kind of taste satisfaction those guys can deliver. Gimmick or not, though, Trooper isn't half bad. It's not transcendent, mind you, but it accomplishes what it sets out to be; that being a sessionable (ABV of 4.7%) English bitter that you can practically drink all day. The only question is who's actually going to drink it?
In the U.K., it's hardly a surprise that Trooper sold over 10,000 barrels in its first two months on the market. It's a straightforward, hand-crafted English ale created by Frederic Robinsons in concert with one of the most successful heavy metal bands in history. A group which just so happens to have gotten its start in London. In essence, what we are talking about is a coupling of hometown heroes with a brewery in northern England that has been family run since the mid-1800s. It's a good beer with a local lineage. Seems like the kind of thing that sells itself.
So, what about here at home? Gen Xers would appear to be the most likely converts. This demographic, born anywhere from the mid-60s to the mid-70s, probably grew up listening to Maiden (formed in 1975), so their curiosity is almost sure to be piqued. Having been exposed to craft beer prior to the current age of extremism, they are also more apt to appreciate classic styles. Not only that, numbers provided by market research firm Mintel (in an article published by Craft Brewing Business) indicate that this age group is "more likely than their younger counterparts to indicate that imported beer and craft beer are of similar value." Sounds like a win-win.
Now, that's not to say others shouldn't try it. But, other than a mild lemony citrus bite on the back end Trooper isn't hoppy, nor is it imperialized or Americanized. It's easy to drink, with a bready character and only a mild bitterness. Just reading that, you can almost sense the online ratings plummeting as we speak. The message here being that if you've got an open mind, open up a bottle.
Should it be produced full-time and available on draft, it's easy to see this beer securing a permanent slot on tap walls at English or Irish-inspired establishments. Maybe dump one of those historic import brands that have been bought out and demonized by Big Beer, and put on Trooper for a more legitimate taste from across the pond. In the meantime, at least locally, you'll have to settle for trying it in packaged form. Look for it in 500mL bottles at better beer retailers around town.
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