Photo by Jerome Cid
Photo by Jerome Cid

Stella Artois: Belgium's favorite brewery

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

Stella Artois makes up part of what’s nowadays the world’s largest brewery concern, Anheuser-Busch InBev, which finds its home base in Leuven, Belgium.

The beer-making tradition in Leuven traces its roots back to the Den Hoorn Brewery, established in 1366. When master brewer Sebastian Artois acquired it in 1717, he renamed it the Brouwerij Artois. In 1926, a special edition holiday beer was brewed for the locals, with the name “Stella” a reference to the Christmas star. The beer proved so popular its makers decided to brew it year-round.

The expansive, state-of-the-art facility in which Stella is brewed today welcomes visitors. The two-hour tour and tasting session cover the brand’s history, the art of brewing, and the canning and bottling process. The tour entails extensive walking, but participants are richly awarded at the end with tastings of fresh, ice-cold pours and a generous gift bag with samples to take home. The tour in English is offered at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as at 5 p.m. Fridays during the high season. The cost of the tour is 8.50 euros. Pre-booking is essential. Tours can be booked at the city tourism office or online.

The brewery entrance is located at Aarschotsesteenweg 20 and is a 15-minute walk from the city center.


Photo by Botond Horváth - Leuven's Old Market Square

Other things to do in Leuven, a university town with a population of some 100,000 about 20 miles east of Brussels, include checking out its magnificent 15th-century steeple and figure adorned Town Hall and exploring café culture amidst the dozens of options on the Old Market Square. Check out the De Lantaarn Café, synonymous with the Stella Artois brand.

Good to know

When ordering a Stella Artois on its home turf, expect the bartender to adhere to an elaborate nine-step pouring ritual when tapping it into its special glass.

The Stella Artois brand produces a pair of beverages even non-beer drinkers might enjoy, a hard cider and Spritzer, a sparkling beverage based on apples and flavored with hibiscus flavors.

The brand partners with water.org, an organization that helps provide access to clean water in the developing world. The initiative co-founded by Matt Damon enjoys celebrity endorsement by Sarah Jessica Parker, Jeff Bridges and Mindy Kaling. The “Pour it Forward” campaign, financed through the sales of special edition beer chalices, has already helped more than 1.7 million people and hopes to reach 3.5 million people by 2020.

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