Stella Artois is a household name with a mixed reputation. The beer has been considered a high-class import, a brawl-inducing booze bomb, and a simple pale lager.
More recently, Stella Artois has been associated with the famous faces of Mindy Kaling, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jeff Bridges, and Matt Damon — all for a good cause.
Find out what the brand is up to, and why it’s ridding itself of an extremely offensive nickname. Here are 11 facts you should know about Stella Artois.
Stella Artois is Budweiser’s not-so-distant cousin.
Stella Artois is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the same Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate that produces Budweiser, Becks, Busch, and dozens of other domestic, craft, and imported beer brands. It acquired Stella Artois as part of the Anheuser-Busch acquisition of InBev in 2008.
It’s Belgian, not French.
Stella Artois was originally brewed in Leuven, Belgium, a small city east of Brussels. Currently the best-selling beer in Belgium, it’s also brewed around the world, including in the U.K. and Australia.
It’s almost 100 years old.
The Stella Artois logo and marketing pay homage to the Den Hoorn Brewery, established in 1366. However, that brewery didn’t become Brouwerij Artois until Sebastian Artois bought it in 1717. The Stella Artois brand debuted more than 200 years later, in 1926.
It was a late Christmas present.
Stella, meaning “star,” refers to the Christmas star. The Stella Artois brand was originally released as a special holiday beer for Leuven locals. It caught on, and became available year-round.
Stella Artois also makes a cider and ‘wine spritzer alternative.’
In addition to its eponymous beer, the Stella Artois brand portfolio includes Cidre, a sparkling hard cider made with three apple varieties; and Spritzer, a sparkling beverage made with apples and hibiscus flavors. Spritzer launched nationwide in February 2019.
In 2018, Stella went back to its roots.
It has an ABV identity problem.
In the U.S., Stella Artois is currently sold at 5 percent ABV. However, it has an ongoing ABV identity crisis. Some reports say AB InBev reduced the alcohol content of Stella Artois in the U.K. from 5.2 percent ABV to 4 percent in 2008, while others say it dropped from 5 percent to 4.8 percent in 2012.
It demonstrates how effective marketing can be.
Depending on whom you ask, Stella is either classy, trashy, or downright ordinary. A common joke among Belgian beer enthusiasts is that American beer consumers consider Stella Artois an elevated import, while “[i]n Belgium, Stella Artois is considered a very ordinary beer at best.”
It has an especially bad reputation in the U.K.
In the U.K., Stella is associated with binge drinking and aggressive behavior. This is allegedly due to its higher-than-average ABV. It has a violent, misogynist nickname that it’s trying desperately to shake.
(An alternative theory posits the name came from the play “A Streetcar Named Desire,” whose female lead, Stella, suffers from domestic abuse.)
It has a ritual.
Stella Artois has a precise pouring ritual when served from a tap into its iconic chalice. It includes nine steps: the purification; the sacrifice; the liquid alchemy; the crown; the removal; the skimming; the judgement; the cleansing; and the bestowal. Learn more about the ritual here.
Stella Artois wants you to save water by drinking beer.
As part of its “Pour It Forward” campaign, Stella Artois donates $3.13 for every limited-edition Stella Artois chalice sold to Water.org, an organization co-founded by Matt Damon that helps provide access to clean water to people in need. Actors Sarah Jessica Parker, Jeff Bridges, and Mindy Kaling recently signed on as celebrity ambassadors of the effort.
Additionally, according to its website, Stella Artois will donate $0.06 per pint or bottle of Stella Artois and Stella Artois Cidre sold until April 30, 2019. Since partnering with Water.org in 2015, Stella Artois has helped provide access to clean water to more than 1.7 million people. Its goal is to reach 3.5 million people by 2020.