The truth about Stella Artois:
There are three numbers that I would like to include within this piece. They are 1516, 4.8 and 284.
Now then a bit of trivia to start with on one of my favourite subjects…….beer.
The world’s oldest continually valid food and drink regulation was put in place in Germany in 1516. The Germans are very proud of the “purity law” that came about nearly 500 years ago to protect the integrity of their beer. This law states that beer can only be made from 4 ingredients: WATER, HOPS, YEAST and MALTED BARLEY.
As a consequence any beer that is brewed and is sold in Germany that contains anything other than these 4 basic ingredients is not allowed to be called beer. If it contains colouring agents, preservatives or different fermentable material other than barley, then it has to be called EXPORT rather than beer. The implication being that if it is not brewed under the 1516 legislation then it is not fit for the domestic market.
Now for some strange reason Stella Artois actually draws customers’ attention to the fact that it is not made purely from barley in its packaging that quite neatly displays a maize cob on its packaging. In declaring that Stella is brewed with “four ingredients” the manufacturer clearly displays symbols for water, hops, barley and maize.
Maize is an adjunct (an alternative to malted barley) often added to the fermentation process in the form of corn syrup to increase alcohol content, make the beer lighter in colour, or simply to cut costs. Yeast is left out of the list, despite being an essential for any fermentation to take place. This is I assume because all the yeast is filtered out of the final product.
The bottom line is that Stella Artois would not pass the German Purity law, but that was always a given. It just seems strange that the marketing people decided that making their beer with maize was a good selling point that was worth advertising.
Did I just say 4.8?
It seems that the new standard “premium” lager ABV strength is 4.8% in the UK. This means that Fosters can step up with their “Gold” product and flex their muscles with the “premiums” as 4.8% represents a stronger concoction than the regular Fosters sold for years at 4.0%. Hence the large figures on the packaging and bottle label declaring the new found strength of the well known lager. The size of the bottle is in a slightly smaller font as these bottles of “Gold” are 30 ml smaller than the traditional 330ml. 330ml is the standard size of soft drinks cans in the UK and is the standard size of a 6 pack bottle of beer in most EU countries.
Now back to good old Stella Artois. Under close inspection of the product packaging of its 6 pack of bottles it is hard to find where its vital statistics are displayed. On the main side panels of the cardboard packaging only a bar code can be found.
but you have to turn the 6-pack upside down to find the ABV is 4.8% a bit different from its previous 5.2% mark.
So eventually we get there. Buy a 6 pack of bottled Stella Artois you get a weaker beer in a smaller bottle than once produced by the same manufacturer. 330ml to 284ml represents a drop of just short of 14% in terms of content. It may not be easy to discover, but the truth is there.
Hard to find, but there in black and white