Trooper Beer & The Mystery of the two labels

The story goes that Iron Maiden wanted to develop an ale, that their fans could enjoy, all around the world. After speaking to a number of small breweries, who were in favour of the project, but not on the scale that Iron Maiden were looking for, the search continued with Bruce Dickinson, the band’s lead singer, taking a trip to the Unicorn Brewery, home of Robinsons Family Brewers. Here, it finally looked like Iron Maiden‘s dreams could be realised. After a serious talk between Bruce Dickinson and head brewer Martyn Weeks, which Bruce described as an ‘interview’, about what the band’s aspirations and commitment were, the two men set about deciding the flavour, colour and taste of Iron Maiden beer. With the recipe sorted a name was that all that remained to finalise. Wanting to have something patriotic on the label, Trooper instantly leapt into Bruce Dickinson‘s mind. In May 2013, Trooper was born.

Iron Maiden’s song, The Trooper, was released as a single on June 20, 1983. Steve Harris, the band’s bassist, wrote the song and based it on The Charge of the Light Brigade, which took place at the Battle of Balaclava, during the Crimean War of 1854. The Charge of the Light Brigade was the result of a misunderstanding of an order, given by Commanding Officer Lord Raglan, and resulted in 600 British cavalry men charging the Russian artillery in a courageous, but foolhardy, assault which resulted in a massive loss of life.

The single’s cover art was designed by Derek Riggs and had the band’s mascot, Eddie, in full cavalry uniform charging forward, with a sabre in his right hand and the Union flag in his left. This name and image were perfect for the band and for the fans. Who could complain?

Well, the Swedish, actually. Not the fans, mind, but the law makers.

There was no problem with the beer or the name, but the label would have to be changed, to allow it to be sold in Sweden. This is because Swedish law forbids, “elements of war, weapons or aggression to be featured on alcoholic product.” So, after altering the label to focus solely on Eddie‘s face, the Swedish powers-that-be were placated and Trooper became available to the Swedish fans.

The Swedish label (left) compared to the original label (right)

The Swedish label (left) compared to the original label (right)

As far as I know, this label is supposed to be exclusive to Sweden, but I have found Trooper on sale in the United Kingdom with this Swedish label. On the plus side, I have discovered that purchasing Trooper, with the Swedish label, is cheaper by up to 70p per bottle.

Trooper has an Alcohol By Volume (ABV) of 4.7% and is a deep golden ale, made from a unique blend of three different hops and has a slight lemony hint.

In its first year, over 5 million pints of Trooper were brewed and it is now exported to just under 40 countries, quadrupling the export sales of Robinsons Brewery.

In August 2014, Trooper won gold in the British Bottlers’ Institute (BBI) Competition 2014.

The BBI president Ed Binstead said,

Trooper was an outstanding entry. It was marked as the clear gold winner in that class by ALL the judges, I can’t remember this happening before. We set very high standards when conducting the blind tasting, none of the judges know the products they are tasting, so the results reflect purely the quality of the products taste. Summing up I would say very well done to Trooper.”

If you like Real Ale’s, grab yourself a bottle of Trooper and yell, “Up the Irons!

Trooper Beer

Robinsons Brewery

Iron Maiden

British Bottlers’ Institute

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p style=”text-align:center;”>Campaign for Real Ale

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