Stella LOWERS its alcohol strength to 4.6% in health drive by Belgian brewers – but drinkers are left furious over its ‘bland and insipid’ taste with one declaring: ‘I thought I had Covid’
- Amount of alcohol in Belgian lager has been slightly reduced from 4.8 per cent
- The beverage’s slogan ‘reassuringly expensive’ ran in the UK from 1982 to 2007
- Stella Artois’ owners lowered alcohol content due to ‘health and wellness trends’
- But move has led to spate of one-star reviews for the product on Tesco’s website
- One customer said: ‘I cracked open a can of Stella 4.6% and thought I had Covid’
Stella Artois has lowered its alcohol strength to 4.6 per cent in a health drive by Belgian brewers.
The amount of alcohol in the Belgian lager – for which the slogan ‘reassuringly expensive’ ran in the UK from 1982 to 2007 – has been reduced from 4.8 per cent due to ‘health and wellness trends’.
Stella Artois’ owners, Budweiser Brewing Group UK and Ireland, lowered the alcoholic content of its canned, draft and gluten-free versions.
But the move has left some drinkers furious over its ‘bland and insipid’ taste, with one Briton even declaring they ‘thought they had Covid’ in a spate of one-star reviews left for the product on Tesco’s website.
The amount of alcohol in the Belgian lager, pictured above, has been slightly reduced from 4.8 per cent due to ‘health and wellness trends’ (file photo)
Dorien Nijs, brew-master at the brand’s brewery in Leuven, Belgium, said: ‘Stella Artois still has the same full flavour and clean crisp taste, confirmed through rigorous testing by consumers, as well as internal and external beer experts across the world, including in Leuven, Belgium, the home of Stella Artois.
‘Stella Artois in the UK will still be brewed using the original Stella Artois yeast and celebrated Saaz hops, in Magor, Wales and Samlesbury, Lancashire using British barley.
‘We know that taste and quality remain the number one priority for Stella Artois drinkers, and we also recognise an ongoing health and wellness trend through moderation.
‘We are proud that we can now deliver the same Stella Artois taste people know and love, with an ABV of 4.6%.’
The firm, which started rolling out the change last September, noted that sales of lagers with a 4.6 per cent alcohol content have been the fastest growing in premium and super premium beer in the UK – more than doubling over two years.
Sales of low and no-alcohol beers and wine have also seen enormous growth.
Alongside Budweiser and Becks, Stella’s alcohol volume was also cut in 2012 from 5 per cent to 4.8 per cent as part of a shake-up that saved millions of pounds by offsetting duty hikes and cost increases.
Historically, the beer’s alcohol content saw it linked to aggression and binge drinking, even gaining the unflattering ‘wife beater’ nickname.
The move has left some drinkers furious over its ‘bland and insipid’ taste, with one Briton even declaring they ‘thought they had Covid’ in a spate of one-star reviews on Tesco’s website
Stella Artois: A timeline
1366: Brewing beer becomes an entrenched tradition in Leuven, Belgium.
1466: First valid reference of the Den Hoorn brewery.
1708: Sebastian Artois becomes an apprentice to head brewer Jacob de Bruyn at Den Hoorn.
1717: Sebastian Artois buys the brewery.
1726: Sebastian dies aged 45 and his wife, Barbara Hermans, runs the brewery. Sebastian’s son, Adrian, then takes over for 50 years from 1733.
1840: Adrian’s child, Jeanne Marie, leaves the Artois family’s inheritance to their friend and brewery manager Albert Marnef.
1901: The business NV Brouwerijen Artois is created.
1923: The new ‘Den Hoorn’ brewery is opened, after the original one was destroyed around a decade earlier during the First World War.
1925: The drink is first brewed under the moniker ‘X’ and Stella Artois’ name is registered for trademark one year later.
1960s: Beverage starts being exported to other European countries.
1993: The brewery in Leuven is opened.
Source: Stella Artois
The description proved so damaging that the brewer hired a PR firm to try improve its online reputation, which included attempts to change its Wikipedia page to remove the phrase.
Stella explained the change was in line with its commitment to responsible drinking.
It wanted to give people greater choice in how they can moderate alcohol intake without having to sacrifice on the taste.
However, in Tesco reviews dating up to February 5, customers slammed Stella for reducing its alcohol volume, leaving the drink with an average of 1.5 stars.
One person wrote in December: ‘A once great beer of the geezers. Now watered down to 4.6 per cent.
‘Won’t be buying this anymore, off to find another beer that is at least 5 per cent, or are the English not trusted with that anymore.
‘First Becks, now Stella. Scandalous.’
Another said: ‘Today I cracked open a can of Stella 4.6 per cent and thought I had Covid, since I could not taste anything.
‘I then had a bottle of Budweiser Budvar which was spot on. Stella is now bland, insipid and already described as dishwater.’
Writing in mid-January, a third raged: ‘Shocked they have lowered Stella to 4.6pc now. Tastes rubbish.
‘Such a shame, used to be a premium lager, now the only thing premium is the price.’
A fourth beer lover wrote: ‘Can’t believe it is down to 4.6 per cent which is a real joke for a ‘premium’ lager.
‘If you are in store then check the packs as I know some are 4.8 per cent which is slightly better, but still not great.’
Leaving a one-star review earlier this month, a drinker wrote: ‘It was disappointing when they reduced it from 5.2% to 5%, then down to 4.8%. Was truly surprised to find they’ve now reduced it down to 4.6%.
The firm noted that sales of lagers with a 4.6 per cent alcohol content have been the fastest growing in premium and super premium beer in the UK (file photo)
Alongside Budweiser and Becks, Stella’s alcohol volume was also cut in 2012 from 5 per cent to 4.8 per cent (file photo)
‘Tasteless, even compared to some supermarket brands. Would never have ordered these if I knew they were so watered down.’
Another one-star reviewer said they were ‘absolutely disgusted’ by the beer’s reduction in alcohol.
On Tesco’s website, Stella says: ‘Born from 600 years of brewing tradition in the Belgian town of Leuven, achieving the distinctive taste of our Stella Artois lager is by no means simple.
‘Only through using expertly balanced malted barley, the finest European Saaz hops, and classic brewing methods can our Stella Artois brewmasters create such a superior golden elixir that simply must be savoured.
‘And the best way to do so? The Belgian way, of course: perfectly poured, sipped from a chalice, and enjoyed in the company of friends with a nibble of something delicious.’
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