A staple of bars, pubs, and beer halls the world over, Stella Artois has firmly taken hold of the tipsy heart of the drinking world.
A Belgian pilsner-style lager with a crisp, clean uptake and a dry, biting acidity in its hold; this 1926 Christmas gift to the people of the city of Leuven has, in almost a century of production, become an old Blues standard for any bar tap or grocery store.
The sophisticated European commercials, that emerald green bottle and that chic fat-bottomed chalice have a venerable place in global drinking culture.
But what is the fingerprint of that iconic flavor which so draws such mass appeal? From sports fans watching the big game on the couch with a six pack, to the seasoned couple enjoying an evening drink on the patio before being seated for dinner.
And, more importantly- could you capture that potent flavor at home, bottle it for your own?
We think we’ve nailed it—and we’re going to tell you exactly how, one white Christmas in Belgium, they poured the first Stella Artois. Keep on reading to find out more!
Taste, Aroma, Appearance, Mouthfeel
That instantly recognizable flavor comes from three faces you’ll be well familiar with: hops, malted barley, and water.
The sweetness of the malt and the bitter sting of the hops balance to create a crisp, clear bouquet that wanes on the palette in a dry, sustained release.
That barley is instantly present before your lips even touch the glass; every sip of Stella Artois is accompanied by a thick, heady cloud of floral clarity, like sticking your head into a woodland thicket on the hottest days of spring.
It’s hard to deny that when it comes to appearances, the sight of that crystal chalice and that faint, off-yellow pilsner gleaming through the glass is one to savor as much as the lager itself.
Stella Artois produces a pure white head, which dissipates quickly in a fit of crackling.
That lively carbonation is a pleasant signature of the Stella Artois experience as it plays swiftly on the tongue and nostrils.
The lightness of its body is a key part of its success; easily applicable to any social situation and paired well with any food.
Recipe and Ingredients
Naturally, the Stella Artois secret formula isn’t just open source for anyone out there to use; that particular secret lives with the brewers themselves as a trade secret.
There’s a lot of speculation, but all that is known for sure is that the three main ingredients are:
- Malted Barley
Stella Artois’ unique taste is probably owed in part to a unique strain of yeast; as any brewer or baker will tell you, the yeast you use drastically affects flavor, and according to certain sources that is exactly what provides the signature flavor of this global favorite.
The following recipe is our absolute best take on the Stella Artois secret. Try it out and give us your thoughts!
Ingredients (5.5 Gallon Batch)
- 11 lbs German Pilsner malt
- 1.75 oz Saaz hops (for 60 minutes)
- 0.5 oz Saaz hops (for 5 minutes)
- WLP830 German lager yeast
- 3 oz priming sugar
1. Mash for one hour at 150 ℉.
2. Add 1.75 oz hops for another hour.
3. Five minutes before the end of the boil, add the remaining 0.5oz hops.
4. Aerate. Allow the wort to cool before transferring to a fermenter.
5. Pitch yeast.
6. Ferment at 50-55 ℉
7. Rack to secondary after fermentation has been completed. Keep in a very cool, dark place, dropping the temperature by another 5℉ every day until you reach 35℉. It should be ready to bottle in a matter of weeks.
8. Add priming sugar before bottling.
Stella Artois ABV
Depending on where in the world you live, Stella Artois has a drastically varied ABV- here in the States anyway it’s a solid 5.0%, closer to the traditional 5.2% of its Belgian brethren.
If you live in a country with stricter alcohol laws or taxes, you’re out of luck: some Stella Artois breweries limit their batches to a mere 4.6% in line with local legislation. It’s enough to make you want to drink.
Stella Artois Nutritional Information
Due to the variance in alcohol content and brewing processes across borders, Stella Artois nutritional information also varies.
Please make sure to heed nutritional information and advice from your own country/region.
In the US, distributor Anheuser-Busch lists the nutritional content of an 11.2 fl oz (one bottle) of Stella Artois as follows:
- 141 calories
- 10.9g carbs
- 0g sugar
- 5% ABV
As always, please drink responsibly.
What is the Best Way to Drink Stella Artois?
What has made Stella Artois such an enduring part of drinking culture is its vast flexibility – a light, simple flavorsome accompaniment to every social occasion.
Stella Artois recommends serving their beer between 3-5℃ or 37.5-41℉; handily, an appropriate refrigerator temperature for the home.
Your pint of Stella Artois on draft will also come in a thick-stemmed chalice, although your standard glassware will probably be just fine.
Stella Artois the brewers however, have a very fixed idea of the way their beloved pilsner is to be experienced.
Below is the nine-step method of correctly preparing the Stella Artois drinking experience directly from the artisans themselves; a way of the warrior simply dubbed ‘The Ritual’:
The following information is taken directly from the Stella Artois website, and can be found here.
The Purification: The Chalice is rinsed with cold water, allowing the glass to reach the same temperature as the beer.
The Sacrifice: The tap is opened in one swift motion to let the first burst of foam flow away to ensure every drop of your Stella Artois is fresh.
The Liquid Alchemy: The Chalice is held at a 45-degree angle so that when the beer begins to circulate, it creates the ideal proportion of foam relative to liquid.
The Crown: The creation of the foam head occurs by straightening and lowering the glass.
This initial foam is important as it prevents the beer from coming into contact with the air and losing any flavor.
The Removal: The tap is closed in one smooth action and the Chalice is quickly removed to prevent any drops from falling into the glass.
The Beheading: While the head is flowing over the edge of the glass, your bartender cuts it gently with a knife on a 45-degree angle.
This eliminates the larger bubbles, which burst easily and accelerate the dissipation of the head.
The Judgment: Your bartender then checks that the foam is 2 fingers (3 cm) thick.
The final head creates a protective “cap” that keeps your Stella Artois from going stale.
The Cleansing: Your bartender then rinses the bottom and sides of the glass. This step keeps the outside of the Chalice clean and comfortable to hold.
The Bestowal: Finally, your Stella Artois is served to you on a coaster, accompanied by the drip catcher at the base.
Behold the perfect glass of Stella Artois. Cheers to you, and for your patience, a refreshing reward.
Bottle, Can or Draft?
For our money, Stella Artois is best enjoyed by draft – and who can deny the exhilarating experience of sipping from one of their iconic thick-stemmed chalices?
If serving Stella Artois from either a can or a bottle however, the brewers have some fresh advice.
So, if you want your Stella to taste as good as Stella served on Draft, follow these steps:
- Begin with a freshly cleaned (but dry) glass.
- Tilt the bottle and the glass slightly so that both are pointing towards each other, and begin to pour. You should do so with confidence, otherwise you might end up with a bad pour.
- At the ¾ mark, begin to lift the glass upright. By the time you finish pouring, the glass should now be upright.
- Allow the head to settle before drinking.
Which Food Pairings Work Well With Stella Artois?
As a light, airy and flamboyant pilsner, Stella Artois pairs excellently with bar or pub fare, and is even more expressive served alongside barbecue meats, veg and sauces.
Popular Stella Artois Food Pairings to Consider:
Burgers & Fries
A classic for a reason; but what better accompaniment to a thick meaty patty from a genuine grill, strong cheese, a salad of your choice and any sauce but ketchup – than the cold, crisp, summertime vibes of a Stella Artois.
Fish and Chips
Allow the bitter hops and energetic carbonation to cut right through the grease of fried white Haddock and thick-cut fries, in this homage to a drizzly British evening.
Soft, rich cream cheese and tart berries or citrus are a gorgeous contrast for light and simple hops and barley. And everybody loves cheesecake, right?
Spicy or rich; buttery or greasy, allow Stella Artois to be the Belgian acquaintance to your Italian feast.
Calzones are a top tier meal, so why not enjoy a nice cold pint of Stella alongside your delicious calzone.
Offset the fire or sweet medley of flavors in this East Asian classic with a crisp clear note of something dainty and West European.
Also good with: Korean Pork-fried rice, Kimchi, and chicken.
Enhance a fancier drinking experience with a range of soft French and Belgian cheeses, some good crumbly English Cheddar or Welsh Caerphilly, or even some roguish Italiano.
There are lots of cheeses that are produced all over the world, so why not experiment with a few different flavors alongside your Stella?
Ensure any bottles or cans have been kept well out of the sun.
Stella Artois is sold in green glass bottles, and this style of bottle is more susceptible to sunlight.
Due to this, if Stella Artois is left in direct sunlight, the flavor of the beer can be affected.
Summary – Is Stella Artois a Good Beer?
Despite our impassioned cries of adoration, we don’t represent the entire drinking world with our opinions.
Stella Artois has plenty of detractors who simply aren’t as besotted with this Belgian pilsner, as well as those who swear by it as their sole weapon of choice.
It’s a simple but potent lager, with mainstream marketing campaigns and a tap on every block, so it draws a wide range of opinions.
In some parts of the world, Stella Artois is seen as a low-class beverage- perhaps due to its mass appeal, its urban connotations in the UK, or its pronounced hoppy scent- which remind many of other, more illicit smells.
Some more seasoned beer fans criticize Stella Artois taste as being too basic.
For many though, this lager represents a standard in beer-making flavor; like vinegar to fries or chocolate syrup to ice cream.
There’s also a few out there who poke fun because the name ‘Stella’ sounds too feminine- and if you’re going down that train of thought, maybe it’s time to hold off on the beer.
There’s a lot to be said on this cornerstone of the global bar that goes amiss when passing it on grocery store shelves- but it’s hard to ignore the enduring popularity and adoration this drink gets, and if you’re as jaded a beer lover as ourselves, you’ll know it thoroughly deserves.
In their advertising, Stella Artois boast over 600 years of brewing experience in their lineage, and it’s hard to dispute that continued success in the pursuit of perfection has paid out in the sheer size of their following today.
We wish you all the best of luck in recreating the taste of this iconic and delicious pilsner at home, or planning out your summertime outdoor barbecue drinks.
Thank you for reading! We hope this information has helped you.