Stella Artois is an “international pilsner” beer brand currently owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev and distributed all over the world with an alcohol by volume of either 5% or 5.2% depending on the location.
Stella Artois is brewed under contract in Australia and the UK but originates from the Belgian town of Leuven where, according to tax records, the Den Horen (the horn) Brewery resided as far back as 1366. Although the Stella Artois logo of a horn and much of the brand marketing pays homage to the Den Horen name and the date of 1366, the name Artois was not associated with the brewery until the 18th century when Sebastian Artois, the brewmaster, lent it his name in 1717.
More than 200 years later, in 1926, Stella Artois was released as a limited edition Christmas beer meaning “star.” Having found favor in its native Belgium, it was launched as a permanent beer and, by 1930, was being exported to other European countries.
Belgium is famous for its distinctive and flavorful ales, so many beer enthusiasts are surprised to find that fairly bland international pilsners account for more than 70% of the Belgian beer market. In Belgium, Stella Artois is considered a very ordinary beer at best—the top selling beer in Belgium is its stablemate, Jupiler.
One of the most successful markets for Stella Artois was in the UK during the 1980s and 1990s when its “Reassuringly Expensive” advertising campaign and strong links with cinema established it as the leading premium lager brand, selling 3 million barrels a year in 2001. However, the Stella star has since waned amid associations with binge drinking, so-called lager louts, and the beer’s unfortunate UK nickname, “wife-beater.”
Despite this, Stella Artois remains one of the world’s most popular lager brands and a leading import brand in the United States. It is brewed using hops, barley, maize, water, and yeast.