Beverage Review – Iron Maiden’s Sun and Steel

Sun, steel, Iron Maiden and a nice and cold saké-infused beer. What else do you need in life?

“Sunlight, falling on your steel,
Death in life is your ideal,
Life is like a wheel, rolling on and on.”

Let’s celebrate the news of another round of the superb Legacy of the Beast Tour by the one and only Iron Maiden, which will conquer pretty much the entire world except for the Americas in 2020, with a review of Sun and Steel, the sixth beer from the unstoppable Bruce Dickinson together with Robinsons Brewery. And let me tell you that after having tried the original Trooper Beer, the amazing Hallowed, and now Sun and Steel, I must admit this saké lager by Mr. Bruce Dickinson is in my opinion the one with the best taste, aftertaste, freshness and punch. I still have to try the other Iron Maiden beers I haven’t found yet such as Trooper Red ‘N’ Black, of course, but I doubt those will be as good as Sun and Steel. And do you want to know why?

Sun and Steel is the first lager in the Trooper range and is one of the most complex beers that Robinsons Brewery has ever produced, a double fermented lager created with authentic Japanese saké yeast. The idea for the beer, designed once again by the one and only Mr. Bruce Dickinson along with Robinsons’ Head Brewer Martyn Weeks, was first conceived during the autumn of 2016 following a meeting between Bruce and a friend of the band and long-time Iron Maiden fan George Yusa, owner of the 300-year old family run Okunomatsu Saké Brewery in Fukushima, Japan. Bruce became intrigued with the idea of putting the two flavor profiles together, and thus Sun and Steel was born. George was able to deliver a sample of the saké yeast to Iron Maiden’s 2017 concert at London’s O2 Arena, which Bruce took up to Robinsons Brewery. Having obtained permission from the Japanese government to brew with it, Martyn and the team had carefully cultivated the strain ever since. “This has been such an exciting project. I had a crazy idea to try and make a saké infused lager and over two and a half years later, here we are! I know Martyn and the team at Robinsons have had to become mad scientists to make this work but the end result is a really unique hybrid beer that tastes fantastic. Trooper fans have been asking for a lager, and here it is. I bet you would never have guessed we would do it like this though,” commented Bruce about his newborn “baby”.

Needless to say, if you’re a diehard Maidenmaniac you already know Sun and Steel takes its designation from the Iron Maiden song of the same name that appears on their 1983 masterpiece Piece Of Mind, which was in turn inspired by the life of Japanese Samurai Miyamoto Musashi, hence the idea of uniting a lager yeast, for the initial fermentation, with a saké yeast, as saké is Japan’s national beverage,  for a second fermentation. The result is a crisp and refreshing 4.8% double-fermented, saké-infused pilsner style lager with a flash of honey and fruit that will please from the most demanding beer connoisseur to the average social beer drinker, showing how much effort Bruce and Martyn put into brewing such delicious beer. Of pale yellow color, gooseberry and honey lychee smell, and smooth and delicate taste, Sun and Steel is not too sweet nor too bitter, being the perfect beer for the winter while we all wait for the Legacy of the Beast Tour to kick off in 2020, or for the hot and sunny days of summer when Bruce, Steve & Co. will take several cities and countries all over the world by storm with their unparalleled live performances. For instance, you can find Sun and Steel on sale at selected LCBO stores if you live in Canada for 2.85 Canadian Dollars each 500ml can, at several other importers from all over the world, or simply go to the Robinsons Brewery official website to grab 12 bottles of 330ml each for £20. Having said that, what are you waiting for to purchase a few cans or bottles of Sun and Steel and enjoy them while listening to the song Sun and Steel itself and all other Iron Maiden classics we all love so much? UP THE IRONS AND… KANPAI!

Beer details
Country: England
Brewer: Robinsons Brewery
Style: Saké Lager
Alcohol Content (ABV): 4.8%
Color: Pale yellow
Smell: Gooseberry, honey lychee
Taste: Smooth, complex and delicate
Sweetness: 3 out of 5
Bitterness: 2 out of 5
Contains: Malted barley and wheat

Beverage Review – Iron Maiden’s Hallowed

Hallowed Be Thy Ale.

“I’m waiting in my cold cell, when the bell begins to chime
Reflecting on my past life and it doesn’t have much time
Cause at 5 o’clock they take me to the Gallows Pole
The sands of time for me are running low”

British Heavy Metal legends Iron Maiden are not only a metal music machine like everyone says, but in the past few years they’ve also mastered the art of craft beer brewing in a beyond fruitful partnership with independent family brewers Robinsons Brewery. Once again, the dynamic duo of Robinsons’ master brewer Martyn Weeks and Iron Maiden’s multi-talented, restless and wild lead vocalist and ale aficionado Bruce Dickinson have teamed up to create something very special for beer and music fans alike, the brand new Belgian style beer Hallowed (available from October 2017 for a limited period of four months according to the band itself), following on from the success of the original Trooper Beer, which has sold over 15 million pints since its launch in 2013, and previous limited edition beers Trooper 666, Trooper light Brigade and Red ‘N’ Black, all part of the already imposing collection of Iron Maiden beers. As a matter of fact, Hallowed is obviously named after Iron Maiden’s all-time classic Hallowed Be Thy Name, from their 1982 cult album The Number of the Beast, and just by that you already know this beer kicks some serious ass.

At 6.0% ABV in a 330 ml bottle, Hallowed is a Belgian inspired beer that’s brewed in England and also one of the first beers to be brewed by Robinsons Brewery that uses Belgian yeast. Furthermore, Robinsons haven’t changed the yeast used in their beers since 1942, which makes Hallowed even more special. “What makes this brew pretty special is that we’re adopting a Belgian yeast for the first time. I’m a big fan of Belgian beers, so I jumped at the chance to brew my own. While I get very excited about experimenting with new formulas and ingredients, the thing about Belgian beer is that it’s as much a way of life as it is a drink. We’ve tried to bottle that philosophy in Hallowed, albeit with a British twist”, explained Bruce. Martyn complemented Bruce’s thoughts by saying that “it’s all in the yeast. Belgian yeast yields a very distinct taste and presentation. You can sniff out a Belgian beer simply from its aromas: fruity, spicy and earthy. Belgian yeasts withstand higher alcohol levels, they attenuate well and create an array of phenolics and esters… put simply, this means more flavour and I think Hallowed drinkers are in for a treat.”

Of medium and malty style, which makes it ideal for a beef stew or cheeses, Hallowed brings vibrant aromas with vanilla, coffee, clove and floral notes, presenting on the palate notes of coffee, toasted malt and biscuit. Moreover, the crystal rye gives this dark amber, almost light brown ale a blood red hue and a smooth dry finish, having a lot of depth in malt character while the light Belgian yeast provides balance to its taste. As a huge fan of Belgian beer, I personally enjoyed a lot savoring my first bottle of Hallowed a few weeks ago, and I’m happy that I bought a few extra ones at LCBO for future occasions. If the original Trooper beer was already recommended for beer lovers (and not for heavy beer drinkers), Hallowed can be considered even more distinguished and gourmet, turning the simple act of drinking beer into a unique and very pleasant experience. Apart from LCBO here in Canada (and keep in mind not every store has it), I don’t know where else you can get Hallowed, as the product is already listed as discontinued on the Robinsons Brewery official website. Well, you should keep trying to find Hallowed in your hometown or by purchasing it online if possible, because it’s totally worth the investment, with one 330 ml bottle of Hallowed costing around 2.90 Canadian Dollars. In the meantime, you can also have some fun online by watching Bruce himself tasting Hallowed HERE, or this short but fun video by United News International where they talked about the release of Hallowed last year.

Beer details
Country: England
Brewer: Robinsons Brewery
Style: Belgian Dark Ale
Alcohol Content (ABV): 6.00%
Color: Red
Smell: Delicate floral, hints of vanilla & clove
Taste: Malty, Toffee, Caramel
Sweetness: 3 out of 5
Bitterness: 2 out of 5
Contains: Malted barley and wheat
Price: CAD$ 2.90 (1 x Bottle 330 ml)