Trying out Stella Artois (Canada) vs Stella Artois (Belgium)

Canada brew on the left, Belgian brew on the right


Originally written back in October, 2020: In the middle of fall. One of my favourite friends in the world was moving from Manitoba to Europe. Stella Artois was one of his favourite beers and of course it just had to be a Labatt beer, or AB InBev in Europe. I didn't mind Stella Artois but I never liked it. Heineken, Beck's and every other green bottled beer was better, but since this guy who loved my writing was moving to Europe, I should review something that he will have access to. Well... Like many AB InBev beers in the past, one of his go-to beers, Stella Artois was now going to be brewed in Canada of all places instead of Belgium where it should be brewed each and every time. I'm reviewing two bottles of Stella Artois tonight, one is from Brussels in Belgium, the other being at Labatt's prairie brewery in Edmonton, Alberta.  


Appearance: Deep honey straw body with an incredibly light amount of carbonation, way too light.. I expected there to be many lines of bubbles popping up. The head is incredibly faint when I took the photo and ends up with maybe a couple dozen bubbles on top (in the middle). There's a bit of floaty bits throughout the body of the beer, something I would't expect from a beer like Stella, so it's not 100% but pretty close otherwise.

Aroma: Certainly has that typical skunkiness you expect in any beer served in a green bottle. It's sweet, a bit bitter, honey, apple juice and straw.

Taste: Apple, straw, honey. Grassy hops with a slight bitterness to it, incredibly watery for mouthfeel yet leaves behind a bit of a dry feel to it. There's a lot of straw in it and a very bitter aftertaste at the end.

Overall Thoughts: For the flavour, it's quite a bit more bitter than I'd expect from Stella. It has a lot straw notes as well as a bit of honey and apple. The bitter aftertaste is a bit off-putting, very strong for a lager, especially when you're wanting more of a smooth and crisp taste/aftertaste to it.


Appearance: Golden straw body with a light amount of carbonation in the body. The head has a light amount of white head on top but it seems to be retained for a good amount of time after pour, covering pretty much the entire top, rather than just a few bubbles in the middle.

Aroma: Sweet with notes of malt, a hint of honey, slightly skunky but not aggressive at all. Crisp, light, a bit cereal-forward but pretty much a typical import lager.

Taste: Sweet lager that's easy to drink - it's got a bit of honey-like sweetness to it, light grain profile, a moderate amount of straw, slightly toasted grain, crisp, easy to drink. Not really getting much of a skunk presence to it, maybe a hint, but that's about it. Mouthfeel is a bit watery with a slight carbonation, while the aftertaste is toasted barley and a hint of bitterness from the hops.

Overall Thoughts: Inoffensive lager that's definitely a couple steps above its sister Budweiser/Bud Light. Crisp, easy to drink, sweet. Minimal skunkiness but it is there for those who need that in their life. Pretty reminiscent to what I remember from the beer when I used to drink it in the mid 2000s when I wanted an alternative to Heineken.  

The price on the Canadian brewed Stella just isn't worth the move. Will I buy this beer ever again? No. I will never buy it again, even if it comes with a free glass and nine step pouring kit.

Late Edit: Corona is now being brewed at Canada at Labatt's facilities as well. If there's any desire for a comparison review, leave a comment below and I'll try to do one, but I probably won't.


Sultaneous said...

In a pre-pandemic trip to Leuven, I toured the Stella Artois factory. Quite an amazing facility with mass production capacity for Europe; 60,000 bottles/cans coming off the line ready to ship every 24 hours. An important note is that the factory is built on the site of their prized aquafer which provides the unique European taste. The London location also has its own water source. I picked up a couple of Stella to bring back to Ontario and my wife (a sommelier who also knows her way around beers) and I picked up some Ontario Stella (brewed in London). We did a blind tasting, and we both ended up picking the Ontario Stella. We narrowed the key factor down to the water; the London plant just had a fresher, purer water source than Leuven. Which makes sense since it is Canada, right? A wonder if we would have had the same outcome with a labels-out taste test, because the Belgium Brand carries so much cache and influence, it may be hard to do an un-influenced test that way.

Sultaneous said...

+1 for Corona comparison.

Garth said...

I now check all beers to see if they are brewed under licence elsewhere and that includes Canadian brands. If I suspect they are brewed in London Ont thats a definite no go, must be the water. I dont drink Stella anymore from the store however I heard that some companies still import draft from the original breweries.

Unknown said...

I was pretty upset to learn about Corona being brewed here. It’s not the same beer, I tasted it and that’s when I noticed a difference and then read the news. Is the idea that most beer drinkers don’t care or know the difference so why bother paying for shipping? You could never get away with this with whiskey or wine.

Unknown said...

I was a die hard Corona fan for 22 years and our relationship ended in December of 2021 when Canadians thought they could make Mexican beer. You might as well drink any brown bottled beer. It’s disgusting and I’m still bitter!

Beer lover said...

I have been a Sella drinker for 20+ years. The new Canadian brewed Sella is nothing like the Euopean version. I don't buy it anymore and I am selling off all my Sella glasses and bar stuff. I have found that Carlsberg is an excellent replacement. Inbev is getting rich on the new Canadian brew. The can are smaller and the price has gone up. There a ton of really great European blonde lagars out there that you should try.

Gryndar said...

I was a diehard Stella fan, I recently got over a bout of covid, nothing serious....just the sniffles and a bit of a headache. I hadn't had any Stella for about a year and one of my buds brought a six of Stella around to visit around the fire pit. Well I tell ya... it didn't taste the all. I figured covid had affected my taste buds, cause how could my favorite brew taste so bad? I read the label the next day.... my eyes almost bugged out of my favorite import brew was being made in canada??? Say it isn't so....the oldest brewery on the planet is letting rookies make their flagship lager....alas...I'll drink Stella no more.... I'm beyond disappointed....I there nothing sacred've lost me forever...unless I actually go to Europe to get the real thing I'll never drink it again.

Unknown said...

I couldn’t agree more with the author’s take on the tale of two Stellas !!
I bought a case of inbev Stellas and regretted my purchase 24 times. The price did not reflect the local brewing either.
I will never order Stella again