May 28, 2022

The Tap Daily

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My Pilgrimage to the Stella Artois Brewery in Leuven, Belgium

Stella Artois has always been my go-to beer. Classy, refreshing, yet accessible, Stella has always been there for me. And that’s why when I was in Belgium and I had a chance to visit the Artois Brewery (home of the Stella), it was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. 

It was a brisk, mid-October morning in 2018 when I hopped on a train from Brussels, spent my morning in lovely Antwerp, and then cruised back down to a small town called Leuven, about 32km outside Brussels, to finally reach the home of Stella. 

A jolly Belgian man walked us through the facilities and explained the history of Stella Artois. Leuven has been the home of the Den Hoorn brewery since 1366. However, it wasn’t until 1708 when Sebastian Artois became the head brewer and then renamed it after himself, (boss move) in 1717. Many people don’t know that “Stella”, as we know it, was actually launched 1926 as a strictly Christmas-time beer (“Stella” meaning “Star”). However, people loved the beer so much, the brewery decided to brew it year round. And thus, the Stella Artois we enjoy today, was born.

The jolly man then took us to The Brewing Hall. It was absolutely sensory overload seeing and smelling all the malt, yeast and barley being turned into Stella. He eloquently broke down all of the steps that go into making such a delightful beverage (I didn’t retain a lick of that information, I was too busy smelling all the beer being brewed).

He then took us to the massive high-speed canning/bottling facility where they package and ship 80,000 beers a day. It brings me so much joy to know that every American Stella is brewed in Leuven, Belgium and then imported to the States by Anheuser-Busch. 

Eventually, we finished the tour in the bar, where a stout Belgian man taught me the nine step pouring ritual of how to properly pour & slice a Stella into “the chalice”. 

Then… it was time. As I took a sip, I couldn’t help but feel like I was in heaven. It was the crispest, freshest Stella in the world. It was like I was sucking from the teet of the Stella. A truly immaculate experience. 

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