This weekend is a thirtieth anniversary for me. It is thirty years since I went to my first gig (as we used to call them). Bradford St George’s Hall. A seething mass of badge strewn denim, pounding drums and mosh pits. Iron Maiden.The demi-god Bruce Dickinson ruled the stage and I learned the art of head-banging. The noise, smell and atmosphere was overwhelming. (By the way, I couldn’t have a beer cos my sister wouldn’t buy one for me and I had to get up for school the next day).
Fast forward a few decades and I was training some licensees in the bar at Robinson’s Brewery in Stockport. All of a sudden, there was a commotion outside and we were all hustled out. Peering round the door, I saw a camera crew accompanied by most of the brewery staff. Over their heads I could see a chap standing behind the bar, his hand grasping a glass of amber ale. The handpull in front of him had a pumpclip which resembled the patches I had so painstakingly sewed onto my denim jacket many moons ago. It was Bruce Dickinson, he was ten feet away from me, and it was the launch of Trooper, the collaboration brew between Robinsons and Iron Maiden. Bruce was a real ale man! Hallelujah!
So in celebration of my first gig anniversary allow me to describe the wonders of Trooper. A 4.8% IPA style beer, packed with Goldings and Cascade hops which give it spicy bitterness, it also has a strong roasted malt flavour. This is a premium ale, designed to be treated with respect, and savoured slowly. It goes brilliantly with fiery curries (those hops cut through chilli heat) but the roasted malt means it’s equally good with a roast chicken.
Bruce cemented his place in my heart when he wrote to introduction to last year’s Cask Report. His opening line was “When we’re on tour, cask ale is one of the main things I miss”. What a guy!