Saturday, September 17, 2016

Belgians Have a Term for People Who Drink Stella Artois — Tourists

I first tried Stella Artois this summer at my sister's. At first I thought it was a light beer, but it's not. I was impressed. It tastes good and goes down smooth. When I visited my mom's over Labor Day weekend my sister was there as well, and again we had Stella Artois. I haven't bought any since, but I like it.

So, now I'm getting a kick out of this piece at the Wall Street Journal. It turns out Stella's a tourist's beer. Belgium locals don't drink it:
BRUSSELS — Michel Sabourin, a 75-year-old bar owner, spends most days here tucked between his counter and a 5-foot pink neon sign touting “Stella Artois,” Belgium’s best-sold beer world-wide.

Don’t ask him for a Stella, though. He stopped selling it months ago. “I had to give up,” he said. “I didn’t have enough demand anymore.”

Stella is ubiquitous in bars and restaurants abroad, where it is increasingly seen as one of the most distinctively Belgian products. In the country of its birth, the pilsner has gone flat.

Laurent Van Der Meeren, manager of La Bécasse, a bar and restaurant in a southeastern Brussels residential neighborhood, stopped selling Stella in 2014. He replaced it with Jupiler—a pilsner owned, as is Stella, by Anheuser-Busch InBev NV—which he said is more popular with younger people. “I think it’s a generational thing,” he said.

“Herbaceous, with a metallically bitter finish” is how Michael Vermeren describes Stella. The southern-Belgium chef and zythologist, as beer sommeliers like to call themselves, said it is the last of Belgium’s mass-produced pilsners he would choose.

“Industrial beer isn’t really my thing,” he said. “Stella is an everyman beer and its taste is designed to be liked by everyone.”

At home, Stella had a 6.5% market share last year, far behind Jupiler’s 35%, according to market-research firm Euromonitor International.

On the bright side, “it’s still the No. 3 lager in Belgium,” said Todd Allen, vice president for Stella, which AB InBev said also trails Heineken NV’s Maes Pils...