I had a Beck's for the first time in ages a few months ago. It was my first since the conglomerate formerly known as Budweiser started brewing it in St. Louis. (Was the stuff for the U.S. market brewed in Germany prior to this?) I thought that it, like pretty much everything the conglomerate formerly known as Budweiser brews was watery. It certainly had more flavor than Bud but less than I remembered it having.
I thought about this when I heard that Beck's was introducing a beer brewed with a new(ish) variety of German hops called Saphir. I read that it was released in 2002 and is related to Hallertau but has more of a sweet, fruity, citrus-tangerine thing going for it. The hops sounded interesting so I thought I'd brave the waters of Beck's and give it a try.
Things started out promisingly enough as it poured a dark straw color which was a stark contrast to the sleek black bottle. It was clear and filled with bubbles running up. The aroma was good too. It had that nice biscuity smell that's common to pale lagers but there was also a very sweet scent which was partly bready and partly fruity. To my nose the latter was like strawberries. Lurking in the background was a spicy hops scent – what I'd expect from Noble hop, Saphir's ancestors.
The taste had some of the elements you'd expect from a lager like this; it was light on the tongue and had the aforementioned biscuit flavor. But it wasn't crisp and clean. There was this dull, mellow sweetness present that kind of tasted like the strawberries in the aroma. Very odd. Even odder was that, considering this beer was supposed to be featuring a new variety of hops, I really couldn't taste them. Unless, of course, that whole strawberry thing was Saphir fooling me. I certainly could not taste anything akin to tangerine or citrus generally.
Sapphire finished moderately dry and with some mild hop bitterness of the spicy kind.
This isn't an ungodly awful beer but it's certainly not good. I am left wondering where the crisp, clean lager qualities went and why I still have no idea what Saphir hops taste like. I thought the German Hüll melon hop variety was supposed to have strawberry nuances, not Saphir.
Junk food pairing: Japanese rice cracker snack mix but the stuff that has wasabi peas in it.
Labels: Beer, German bier, Hops, Pilsner