Stella Artois is a European pale lager with a long history. Throughout a large part of the past 60 years, the brand has focussed on international expansion. For this reason, Stella Artois is now one of the most sold beers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Australian continent. However, where is all this beer made? Let’s start with a quick answer.
Stella Artois for the American market has been brewed in St. Louis, Missouri, Los Angeles, California, Newark, New Jersey, and Jacksonville, Florida, since 2021. Before that, Stella Artois was brewed in Leuven, Belgium, where it is still brewed mainly for other parts of the world.
However, that certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Below, we’ll first explain where Stella Artois was originally brewed. After that, we’ll explain what the largest brewery is at this point and where and how Stella Artois is brewed in other parts of the world. Read on!
Where Was Stella Artois Founded?
In this article, we already discussed how and when Stella Artois was founded in detail. Stella Artois is a specific product of the Artois brewery founded in 1717 in Leuven, Belgium.
Before that, the brewery had been active since 1466, and the beer culture in that region of Belgium goes back to 1366 (which is why the label of Stella Artois says it was founded in 1366).
At this point, Stella Artois is brewed all over the world. However, Stella Artois was initially invented by the Artois brewery in 1926 in Leuven, Belgium. For this reason, Stella Artois is a Belgium beer in its roots. In this region of the world, it was originally introduced as a Christmas beer.
Where Is Stella Artois Brewed In Belgium?
We have to start by discussing where Stella Artois is brewed in Belgium because this is the place where it all started for Stella Artois. Initially, Stella Artois was brewed in Leuven, Belgium. The original brewery didn’t survive the second world war, but a new brewery was built in a different location in the city.
However, because of the fast growth of Stella Artois worldwide, a new brewery was opened in Leuven that was fully automated. This brewery is still used to this day and is still being expanded from time to time. For reference, in 2017, this brewery got a fourth production line which meant it is currently capable of brewing 12 million hectoliters (3,17 billion US gallons). About half of this annual production is exported every year.
At the point of writing, Stella Artois is owned by Ab InBev. This company also owns the German beer Beck’s. For supply chain reasons, Stella Artois is brewed in Leuven, Belgium, but the finished product is shipped to the Beck’s brewery in Bremen, where Stella Artois is bottled in their green bottles with the white label.
Where Is Stella Artois Brewed Globally?
For a long time, the brewery in Leuven was the only brewery that Stella Artois had. However, the Artois brewery quickly felt the need to expand in the ’60s and ’70s and the decades after that.
In 1976 the beer was introduced in the United Kingdom, and in 1999 the beer was introduced in the North American market where it has an alcohol percentage of 5% and 143 calories. With this, Stella Artois decided it was wise to expand their breweries worldwide instead of relying on one brewery. Below, we’ve written down the confirmed places where Stella Artois is made.
United States And Canada
From 1999 to 2021, Stella Artois sold in the United States and Canada was made in the brewery in Leuven, Belgium. However, in 2021 production for the North American market was shifted to the United States and Canada. I tasted the 5% Stella Artois sold in the United States and this is what I think about it.
One of the reasons for doing so is that this reduces the supply chain risks of relying heavily on one brewery on the other side of the world. Furthermore, not having to ship millions of bottles of Stella Artois across the Atlantic every year reduces carbon dioxide emissions significantly.
In the United States, Stella Artois is mainly brewed in St. Louis, Missouri. However, three other breweries are located in Los Angeles, California, Newark, New Jersey, and Jacksonville, Florida. The Ab InBev organization owns all of these breweries, which transitioned the Stella Artois brewing process in May 2021.
In Canada, Labatt Brewery has been in charge of brewing Stella Artois since late 2021. Their brewery is located in London, Ontario. At the same time, this brewery will also start brewing Corona Extra.
In 1976 Stella Artois (in the UK also known as ‘wife beater’) was launched on the market in the United Kingdom. At the time, Whitbread acquired the rights to brew Stella Artois for this part of the world. However, in 2000 Interbrew (a merger of Artois and Piedboeuf) acquired Whitbread and took over their facilities. For this reason, Stella Artois is brewed in the Magor Brewery in Caldicot, Wales, which was a formed Whitbread brewery.
Numerous sources on the internet have stated that Stella Artois is also made in Australia. However, no official documentation of this can be found. Instead, Stella Artois uses the word ‘imported’ when talking about the Australian market. For this reason, Stella Artois is not brewed in Australia but most likely imported from the brewery in Belgium.
Who’s responsible for this is a different story. Between 2011 – 2016 Lion had acquired the rights to import Stella Artois. However, they lost these rights to Carlton & United Breweries between 2016 – 2020. In 2020, Carlton & United was bought by Ashasi Breweries. As part of complying with Australian regulations, they had to let go of the rights of Stella Artois, which Heineken then purchased in 2020 in a joint venture with Lion.
For the Hungarian market, Stella Artois is brewed in Bőcs, Hungary, by Borsod Brewery.
Why Do People Think Stella Artois is French?
Finally, we feel it’s a good idea to answer why most people think Stella Artois is a French beer. This is strange, especially given that Stella Artois was initially brewed in Leuven, Belgium, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium.
The reason why many people believe Stella Artois is French is first of all because the brand name sounds French. The word ‘Artois’ comes from the founder of the Artois brewery (Sebastian Artois). More about the history of Stella Artois can be read on this blog I wrote earlier.
In 1717, when Sebastian Artois founded the brewery, French was one of the dominant languages in Europe. It’s undeniable that Sebastian Artois most likely had French ancestors, which is why the name Artois sounds French.
Furthermore, in the 90′ and early 2000s, Stella Artois has focused on marketing itself as a French beer. This is because they wanted the beer to be seen as a luxury product (hence, their old slogan: Reassuringly Expensive).
They tried to market their products by speaking French in their UK commercials and making their slogans French. For example, their cider was long sold with the slogan ‘It’s cidre, not cider’. All of this created the image of a French beer, which remains to this day with many English speakers.