I’m a trooper. That’s about the most perfect word to describe my day-long adventure yesterday here in Stafford, England.
I’ve written about Iron Maiden’s Trooper beer before and have been waiting forever for it to cross the waters and march its way onto American store shelves. But alas, I still hadn’t found it.
As luck would have it, I recently started a new job with a UK company. No, I won’t be commuting to England every day, but I am spending three long weeks over here to train and learn all about the company before heading back to NY and getting the NJ office moving!
I’ve been busy during the weeks at work, but the weekends are all mine. This weekend, I made it my goal to finally hunt down a bottle of Trooper beer.
Lucky for me, the Iron Maiden Beer site has a handy dandy Find Trooper Beer tool that lets people share Trooper sightings. I put in Stafford, England and was happy to see some results!
Sainsbury’s. Okay, that’s sort of like a big honkin’ supermarket. And it’s right next door to the High Street, a big shopping area. That’s exactly where I planned to spend the afternoon anyways. Perfect, right?
I walked down to High Street (roughly a 40 minute walk), stopping along the way for a hair cut and some food. Did a little shopping and explored a real nice park, complete with an aviary! Then I made my way over towards Sainsbury’s. Found it.
“Man, this was just way too easy,” I thought.
Sadly, I had never been more wrong.
I walked towards the front door and was a little confused by all the people just milling about outside. I chalked it up to some crazy Brit personality thing and headed to the door. At which point, one of the store managers told me that they are “Currently closed due to a power failure.”
In reality, it took him about four times to get that point across to me, as I couldn’t fathom what he was saying with that crazy thick accent of his.
I looked inside and it was dark. So yeah, no power. He had no clue how much longer it’d be. So I walked around a bit to check out some of the other popular UK stores. Sadly, I soon found out, they were closed too due to power failure.
Back to Sainsbury’s I went and roughly two minutes later, I saw the lights go back on inside! Woo hoo!
Except, Mr. Sales Manager Guy said we’d still have to wait a bit just to make sure everything’s okay. He told us it’d be about 10 or 15 minutes hopefully.
25 minutes later, they finally let us in.
I was wrong, Sainsbury’s isn’t just a big grocery store. It’s more like a Super Walmart (or Super Target) if you’ve ever been to one. There’s clothes, toys, etc., mixed in with standard grocery store items.
I walked around a bit until I found the awesome liquor section. Loads and loads of beers and spirits. But where o where was my Trooper beer?
Not like the bottles were in alphabetical order or anything. So I kept scanning and scanning. I found some Old Speckled Hen, which my Uncle Barry remembers fondly. Haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my list.
And then… then I found it. Sainsbury’s does indeed sell Trooper beer!!!
Yeah, they were sold out.
“ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHH!” is pretty much what I said at that point. And I’m sure I got about a dozen really odd looks from people as I took photos of an empty Trooper box.
I asked a woman to check in the back for me, which she gladly did. But sadly, no more Trooper.
“Come back tomorrow, we should have some,” she informed me since the shipments come daily.
So I headed on out. I was going to take a bus back but decided to walk the 40 minutes and pray that one of the small convenience stores along the way might have Trooper. I really didn’t want to head back into town again on Sunday.
Along the way, I came upon the Bargain Booze. It’s a small shop selling some basic food and a bunch of different beers and wines. Not huge at all, so I didn’t have high hopes. I scoured the cold section three times and still no Trooper.
Then I turned the corner and saw a few shelves full of various beer bottles. Hobgoblin looks neat but it’s no Trooper.
I was about to give up when… yes… could it be? It can’t be, could it?
But it was.
There, angrily smiling me in the face was the skeletal, flag-waving Eddie! The Iron Maiden mascot himself, plastered on a label of Trooper beer!
There were a whopping three bottles left, so I quickly grabbed one before an Earthquake would knock them over and ruin my chances.
The only downside to this victory? Yeah, the bottles weren’t cold. They weren’t really warm thankfully, but not too cold.
When I got back to the hotel I was pretty wiped. I guess I could have walked back out to a nearby restaurant to beg for some ice and a really large cup. But I didn’t. And my hotel doesn’t have anything that comes close to resembling an ice machine.
So I did what anyone else would do in my situation, I improvised.
The one thing every hotel in England seems to have is a teapot. No joke.
This one had an electric one, so I took the carafe off and filled it with cold water, then stuck the Trooper bottle in. I repeated this a good 15 minutes later.
Finally, I could wait no more, so I pulled Eddie out of his cold bath and cracked him open.
Oh right, besides a teapot, the only other useful thing in the room was a bottle opener. Whew.
A few swigs later and I was finally enjoying a Trooper beer!
It’s pretty good I have to say. Nothing too crazy or different, but a fairly smooth micro brew taste.
As I shared my good fortune on Facebook with all of my friends, a few of my New York buds pointed something out to me.
“They sell Trooper beer at Cable Beverage on Route 304,” one of them said. Yeah, apparently it’s on sale at a store in New York… roughly 15 minutes from my home. And I bet it’s cold too.