This Is What ‘Stella Artois’ Means (Detailed Explanation)


Stella Artois is an incredibly popular European pale lager with 143 calories that’s consumed by people all over the world. However, the name sounds unmistakenly French, and it’s because of this reason that many English speakers wonder what the name means. Let’s start with a quick summary:

The name Stella Artois consists of two parts. ‘Stella’ comes from the French word for ‘star’ and is part of the name because the beer was first introduced during Christmas in 1926. ‘Artois’ comes from the last name of the founder of the brewery Sebastian Artois, who was from the French region Artois in the north-western part of France.

However, that certainly doesn’t tell all the details about the story. Below, we’ve outlined where both the word Stella and Artois indeed come from in more detail. Furthermore, we’ll also explain the beer label, discussing where the words ‘Anno 1366’ come from and why there’s a musical instrument on top of the logo. Read on!

Read my review of 5% Stella Artois in this blog post.

What Does Artois Mean And Where Does It Come From?

To understand where the name ‘Artois’ comes from on the Stella bottle, you’ll have to know a bit of history about the brand.

First of all, Artois was initially brewed and invented by the Artois brewery. This brewery was first founded in 1717 when Sebastian Artois bought the brewery he used to work in as a brewery master. Therefore, the name Artois comes from the last name of the founder of the brewery that would invent Stella Artois in 1926.

However, that’s not where the origin of this name stops. Why did Sebastian Artois have this last name, and what does it mean? To understand this, you have to know that Stella Artois is originally a Belgium beer, and it’s brewed in Leuven, Belgium.

Belgium has always had an interesting position, geographically speaking. This is because this part of the world has seen many border shifts in the past 500 years. Furthermore, as we know it today, Belgium has been part of France and the Netherlands. To this day, they speak both French and Dutch in different parts of the country.

Therefore, it will be no surprise that the name ‘Artois’ is French. Artois is a region in the north-western part of France, coincidentally a region of France that’s very close to Belgium. Therefore, the name Artois doesn’t only come from the last name of the brewery’s founder; it also refers to the region of France where the family of Sebastian Artois is originally from.

What Does Stella Mean And Where Does It Come From?

The name ‘Stella’ is arguably the most interesting part of the Stella Artois name. For this, you have to know that the Artois brewery only started making Stella Artois in 1926 (as mentioned earlier). Before this, they made different beers that were more common for the period.

However, like every product, the Artois brewery needed a way to market their beer. For this, they decided to give the beer away to the inhabitants of Leuven (the city where the brewery was) to gain popularity quickly. They agreed that Christmas was the perfect time to do it, so people considered it a Christmas gift.

Therefore, they named the beer Stella Artois. In this name, Stella is French for ‘star’, which refers to the star decoration that people put on top of their Christmas tree. It’s unclear if Stella Artois was meant to be a seasonal beer. However, it gained popularity very quickly.

Especially after the second world war did, this beer gained momentum. Therefore, the Artois brewery decided to keep it in its portfolio year-round. Eventually, it became one of the most popular beers in the world.

What Does Anno 1366 Mean On The Stella Artois Bottle?

On every Stella Artois beer, you’ll see the words ‘Anno 1366’. This means Stella Artois tries to communicate their beer has been around since 1366. However, this is not entirely true, and the complete story requires some nuance.

As said, Stella Artois was only invented in the ’20s of the previous century. Furthermore, the brewery only started carrying the Artois name in 1726 when Sebastian Artois bought it. So, why does it say it was founded in 1366?

That’s because Stella Artois or the Artois brewery originated from the beer culture in Leuven, Belgium. The first reference to beer culture in this region can be found from 1366 onwards.

Therefore, Stella Artois had basically ‘claimed’ this beer culture, even though it has very little to do with the beer itself. The reason for doing so is because Stella Artois focuses heavily on heritage in their marketing, trying to make their beer look exclusive.

What Does The French Horn Mean On The Label Of Stella Artois?

Finally, there’s one thing you’ll notice about the label of a Stella Artois beer. That’s the French horn on top of the label. What’s the meaning behind this logo?

As said, Sebastian Artois bought the brewery he worked in, in 1726. The name of this brewery was ‘Den Hoorn’, which is Dutch and translates to ‘The Horn’. The Horn references to the French Horn (the musical instrument) you see on the label today.

This brewery had already been around since 1466, so it was around 250 years old when Artois decided to change its name to the Artois brewery. However, as seen, he kept the logo.

Why Is Stella Artois Also Known As Wife Beater In The UK?

In the United Kingdom, Stella Artois is also referred to as wife beater. We’ve written a full blog post about this story here. The short version is that Stella Artois was a high alcohol beer sold at very low prices, increasing the chances of alcohol abuse. For this reason, the beer was linked to domestic violence in the UK for quite some time.

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