High-end nightclubs—the kind with velvet ropes, VIP areas, and leggy waitresses—don’t seem like the kinds of places where you’re supposed to drink beer. Those joints are all about cocktails and bottle service, which usually means vodka. Even whiskey doesn’t feel right. It’s as if your booze needs to be clear and your mixers colorful to match the icy design aesthetic. Beer seems out of place in nightclubs, like your country cousins visiting the big city for the first time. But I suspect many beer producers—and beer drinkers—would like to destroy the notion of beer as a rustic, unsophisticated beverage, unsuitable for the posh confines of A-list nightclubs. The latest, boldest effort to class up the world’s most popular alcoholic beverage comes our way from Germany (by way of St. Louis, Missouri) with the release of Beck’s Sapphire.
The Bremen-based brewers haven’t come out and said this, of course, but one look at the bottle tells me all I need to know. It’s black like a New Yorker’s wardrobe, with silver accents and minimal decoration. It’s named Sapphire after the German sapfir hops it’s made with, but Sapphire could easily be the name of the hottest club in town, where all the celebrities hang out. Its elevated alcohol content of 6% is advertised on the neck (a standard lager like Budweiser is 5%), bringing it that much closer to cocktail strength. The words “smooth taste” are written at the bottom of the label. Smooth like Diddy. Or Clooney. Or Billy Dee Williams. It wouldn’t look out of place in a bottle service setup. You’re not wearing overalls and sitting on a bale of hay when you drink this. You’re dressed to the nines and hanging someplace sexy.
But does it taste nightclubby? It does, by which I mean it has a very clean flavor with a crisp pilsner bite at the end. It is smooth—I don’t need the label to tell me that—and it is refreshing, yet not in a watery, light-beer kind of way. To be sure, it’s a proper beer, just like regular Beck’s is a proper beer (it’s practically the very definition of beer) but, thanks to Beck’s longtime adherence to the Reinheitsgebot, it’s not complicated by a bunch of weird flavors the way some craft brews are. No need to concentrate too hard on the symphony going on in your mouth, this brew’s all about relaxing, letting loose a little, and being cool.
Beck’s sent over some samples, and I can say I like Sapphire very much, as did everybody I shared it with. If I find myself in a fancy nightclub and it’s on the menu, I may well give the old vodka martini a pass and order one of these instead. I just hope they don’t charge me $18 for it. Nightclubs are many things, but they’re not cheap.