Beer: Trooper IPA
Brewery: Robinsons Brewery (Manchester, UK)
Style: IPA – Session / India Session Ale
4.3% ABV / 40 IBU
Robinsons Brewery welcomed two new additions to the Trooper family of beers last year: Trooper Afraid of the Dark, a low gravity stout, and Trooper IPA, a pretty weak-kneed session IPA. This is a somewhat dismaying turn of events. Sure, Robinsons is a brewery committed to the English pub ale tradition of sub-5.0% ABV pub ales, but the OG Trooper—an Extra Special Bitter—is already the perfect sessionable beer. After the unveiling of the relatively toothsome Trooper Red ‘N’ Black Porter, I was convinced that Robinson was trending towards boozier formulations. God knows we need it right now.
To paraphrase “Phantom of the Opera,” when it comes to Trooper IPA, keep your distance, walk away, don’t take this bait. Robinsons doesn’t need a thinner, more yellow, less malt-forward version of Trooper. I’m not even sure this thing is an IPA, aside from the fact that there’s water, some type of grain that is not easily discerned, and hops? Emphasis on question mark? Like, Trooper IPA has clearly been hopped for bitterness but without any of the floral or piney or tropical notes that attract hop-heads to this style.
In terms of color and mouthfeel, Trooper IPA looks and tastes like a slightly bitter lager. It took me a minute to place it, but it most closely resembles Sapporo Premium Beer, a pale lager with a funky nose.that is only good when eating barbecue or spicy foods. That’s fine if you want to recreate the pre-pandemic experience of swilling shitty lagers during an epic Maiden concert. Well, it’s fine, period, in the same way that Blaze Bayley is fine. On the label, there’s a story about how Bruce Dickinson (who concocted this idea with Robinsons Head Brewer Martyn Weeks) was exposed to IPAs on tour and wanted to create something in the American tradition. Without a tear, I draw my parting groan: This ain’t it.