East of the M60 reviews another real ale, and unlike the last one, imbibed a little closer to home.
- Beer: ‘Trooper’ (4.8%);
- Type of Beer: Premium Bitter/Golden Ale;
- Brewery: Robinsons, Stockport, Cheshire;
- Quaffed at: The Arden Arms, Stockport.
Not so long ago, Robinsons Brewery launched a successful ale in cooperation with Bury band Elbow. This year, the front man from Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson emulated that feat with a strong bitter named after a Top 20 Hit of theirs from 1983.
Once more, not so long ago (well, around March of this year to be honest), East of the M60 mentioned this and – true to form – decided to sample the beer itself. Where else could you try their ale apart from in Stockport (and especially so in one of Robinsons’ most revered pubs, The Arden Arms no less)?
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The Arden Arms
If you’re ever in Stockport and wish to find a decent town centre Robbies house near ASDA and The Peel Centre, look no further than The Arden Arms. The pub appears to have changed little since, I would say, the 1950s. It is a multi-roomed pub with excellent real ales. Foodies are placated with an excellent range of traditional and not-so-traditional yet elegant dishes. The presentation of their meals is more akin to a swanky restaurant instead of a typical locals’ pub, though priced at levels akin to or slightly higher than a certain pub chain’s offerings.
It is also well placed for Stockport’s traditional market, Staircase House and the town’s visitor centre. The Arden Arms has also been an ever-present entry in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. From the way my pint was served, I could see why. (This, by the way, was my second visit).
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The song which inspired the beer was inspired by Tennyson’s ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. The beer itself is redolent of traditional Lancastrian ales and has more of a kick than a normal golden ale would have. At 4.8%, it is more towards being a premium bitter but has the easy drinking nature of Robinsons’ popular Dizzy Blonde.
It is made with Robinsons’ favoured Goldings hop variety, used in Dizzy Blonde and Unicorn bitters, though lacks the slightly tart nature of the latter. It has the maltiness of a traditional Lancastrian ale and complex flavours, thanks also to the Bobec and Cascade hop varieties.
For real ale beginners, it is a good, fairly strong one to savour. Hardcore real ale fanatics, may consider Trooper as a decent session ale. It is one to relax to whilst sheltering from the rain, whilst being refreshing enough in warm weather.
Trooper well and truly makes the grade and I heartily recommend it. It goes well with anything from a packet of Seabrooks’ crisps to a bacon muffin and a roast beef dinner. It also goes well with Steak and Kidney Pudding, chips and mushy peas.
Being a limited edition, I strongly suggest you find a good Robbies house which sells Trooper as soon as possible. Please note that not all Robinsons’ pubs may sell Trooper in cask form. Thankfully, it is also available in bottled form and at the bar in Robinsons’ brand spanking new visitor centre at the Unicorn Brewery.
- Presentation: 90% (love the Iron Maiden theme and the bar clip);
- Originality: 85% (precedent set by Elbow but creative output inspired by Bruce Dickinson himself);
- Hookability: 90% (helped by pristine pint at The Arden Arms itself – had to leave in good time to avoid taking root and ordering a second pint);
- Lastability: 92% (one to savour instead of nozzle quickly);
- Overall Rating: 91% (get it while you can!).
- Trooper ale: further information on the limited edition beer.
S.V., 12 May 2013.