On the surface, Stella Artois comes across as ironic- a mass-market light lager among a nation of ancient and singular beers, owned by InBev, a brewing juggernaut among farmhouses with vats in them.
But if you spend any time in Belgium, you’ll see that the folks really like their Artois. Stella and inBev co-owned lager Jupiler make up the vast percentage of Belgian beer sales. I guess you can’t drink Tripel every day.
Until the mid ’90s, Stella was rare around these here parts. Times change, however, and now the beer is brewed in Canada and pumped to us through large-diameter pipelines, or so it would seem based on how quickly Stella has saturated the American market.
In truth, it’s a pretty good beer. Fresh-tasting, with a grassy finish, Stella mekes a great summer cooler. But what makes it overrated is the same thing that makes it ironic: Stella rides the reputation of the Belgian brewing tradition- a tradition which, at least in its modern incarnation, the beer completely ignores.