Beer Journal

A quasi-daily examination of beer and things related to beer.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Now on Tap: Stella Artois

A Brief History

According to Stella Artois website, the company began brewing in Leuven, Belgium in 1366 in a brewery called “Den Horen.” Sadly, this brewery was destroyed in World War I and the current version of Stella Artois was brewed as a Christmas beer in 1926. The brew sold so well that the company made it available year-round. It proved to be incredibly popular especially in United Kingdom. Unfortunately, it earned a reputation as a beer that triggered aggression (earning it the nickname “wife beater”) due to its slightly higher alcoholic content (5.2%) than other beers. To counter this, a light beer is now served under the same label to lower concerns in the UK.

Some Thoughts on Design

The current label was designed by David Taylor of Taylorbrands, featuring “anno 1366” across the top of the label and “Leuven” across the bottom. Between the two is a horn, a reference to the original brewery. It’s clear from the packaging that Stella is angling to be the beer that sophisticated beer drinkers drink. And that packaging seems to be paying off as Stella Artois is the most popular Belgian beer in the world. Interestingly enough, it is not the number one beer in Belgium, beat out by Jupiler.

My Experience

The packaging makes for a fancy looking bottle display. Wrapped with paper all the way to the bottlecap, I couldn’t help but think that it was Christmas and Santa had flown all the way from Belgium to deliver this one. Upon opening the bottle, a nice head was generated, but quickly dissipated. The smell was nice and mild, exactly what I had expected. The taste of the beer was nothing impressive, though there was a light stinging aftertaste on the back of the tongue, which passed quickly. The bottle was easily consumed, paired with a bowl of soup (not sure if that would have been recommended, but it was supper). It’s not a bad drink, just nothing spectacular.

Final Thoughts

If I only used one word to describe the beer, I would use “mild,” though I would be tempted to use “bland.” There’s nothing exceptional about Stella Artois except the packaging. A feast for the eyes, boring on the tastebuds.

Rating: 6.7

Recommended With: Soup, why not?