You could be forgiven for making the assumption that beers associated with rock bands were going to be terrible. Take, for instance, 1990’s rock zygotes Hanson, whose hit MmmBop subsequently led to the development of MmmHops, their own craft beer brand. It’s the kind of thing that’s best approached with a healthy dollop of skepticism and some tempered expectations.
Currently in Canada, we’ve got a couple of beers that slot right in to that territory from two of the hardest rocking bands still standing: AC/DC and Iron Maiden. You would imagine that given the sheer bombast and ear shredding decibel levels that these bands are capable of producing that any beverage associated with them would be powerful enough to lead to spontaneous combustion.
That’s simply not the case.
AC/DC’s beer is a straightforward German lager which is “brewed in accordance with the Rock-n-Roll manifesto of 1973 and the German purity law of 1516.” At 5.0% alcohol, I have the feeling that you’d have some serious difficulty picking it out of a lineup. There are notes of grain cereal present, but realistically the beer is too sweet to be really enjoyable. The other issue is that I can’t see a market for the beer outside of AC/DC’s fans. That may not be a problem when you remember that Back in Black has sold 50 million copies.
Iron Maiden’s Trooper, on the other hand, is far better than it has any right to be. The Trooper is a song about the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. Given the subject matter and the virtuousic guitaristry on the track, you would expect a much bigger beer.
Trooper is brewed at Robinson’s Brewery in Cheshire, a brewery which is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. This means, incidentally, that they would have been in business at the time of the Crimean War. The real surprise here is that the collaboration with Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden doesn’t seem forced due to his lifelong interest in real ale. He has context for it.
The malt is slightly toasty with caramel and nuttiness. The hops are Bobec, Goldings and Cascade, which cause a lemony aroma with a small amount of soapiness. It’s 4.7% alcohol, which is high for a pint of Bitter, but low for Canada. It’s a completely solid pint of bitter, which is something I wasn’t expecting.
I find myself wondering whether fans of Iron Maiden will find it something of a letdown. They might be expecting something bigger and more assertive. They may take some solace in the knowledge that it’s possible people involved in the Charge Of The Light Brigade actually drank beer from Robinson’s, so there’s some authenticity going for it.
Jordan St.John writes about beer at saintjohnswort.ca.