Stella Artois is a classic Belgian pilsner that has been brewed since 1926. It is one of the most popular beers worldwide, with a reputation for being a high-quality, refreshing lager. Central to the beer’s flavor profile are the hops used in its brewing process. But what exactly are these hops, and how do they contribute to the unique taste of Stella Artois?
Stella Artois is brewed using a blend of Saaz and Styrian Golding hops. These varieties contribute to the beer’s crisp, clean taste and subtle bitterness.
In this blog post, we will dive deeper into the various aspects of these hops and their roles in Stella Artois. We will explore the history, characteristics, and growing regions of these hops, as well as the brewing process that makes Stella Artois stand out among other pilsners.
A Brief History of Saaz Hops
Saaz hops have been cultivated in the Czech Republic for more than 700 years, making them one of the oldest hop varieties in existence. Named after the city of Žatec, which is known in German as Saaz, these hops have been used in traditional Czech pilsners throughout history.
Saaz hops are considered one of the “noble” hop varieties, a term used to describe the four European hops known for their refined flavor profiles and balanced bitterness. These hops are highly prized by brewers around the world for their ability to impart a delicate, yet complex, character to beers.
Characteristics of Saaz Hops
Saaz hops are known for their distinct aromatic qualities, which can be described as herbal, earthy, and spicy. They have a low alpha acid content, typically around 3-5%, making them ideal for beers that require a more subtle bitterness. This makes Saaz hops a perfect choice for lagers and pilsners, where their unique characteristics can shine without overwhelming the palate.
When used in Stella Artois, Saaz hops contribute to the beer’s crisp, clean taste and mild bitterness, which complements the malt backbone of the brew.
Growing Regions of Saaz Hops
The unique growing conditions of the Czech Republic are integral to the character of Saaz hops. The region’s soil, rich in clay and sand, along with its mild climate and consistent rainfall, create the perfect environment for growing these hops.
While Saaz hops have been grown in other regions around the world, none have been able to replicate the distinct characteristics of those grown in their native Czech Republic. This is due to the terroir, or the combination of soil, climate, and geography, which cannot be duplicated elsewhere.
A Brief History of Styrian Golding Hops
Styrian Golding hops, also known as Savinjski Golding or simply Styrian, are a Slovenian hop variety with a storied history. They are believed to have originated from the English Fuggle hop, which was brought to Slovenia in the late 19th century. Over time, the Styrian Golding has adapted to its new environment and developed its own unique characteristics, making it a distinct variety.
Characteristics of Styrian Golding Hops
Styrian Golding hops are known for their mild and gentle bitterness, with an alpha acid content typically ranging from 3-6%. They also possess a pleasant aroma, often described as earthy, floral, and slightly spicy.
When used in Stella Artois, Styrian Golding hops add a layer of complexity to the beer’s flavor profile, working in harmony with the Saaz hops to provide a balanced and refreshing taste.
Growing Regions of Styrian Golding Hops
Styrian Golding hops are primarily grown in the Savinja Valley in Slovenia, nestled at the base of the Julian Alps. The region’s fertile soil and cool, damp climate create ideal conditions for growing these hops, which thrive in the unique terroir.
Though attempts have been made to cultivate Styrian Golding hops in other regions, they have never been able to fully replicate the characteristics of those grown in Slovenia.
The Brewing Process of Stella Artois
The use of Saaz and Styrian Golding hops in Stella Artois is just one aspect of the beer’s unique brewing process. The pilsner is brewed using a blend of malted barley, maize, and hops, along with the brewery’s proprietary yeast strain.
Stella Artois undergoes a longer brewing process than most other lagers, allowing for a more complex flavor profile to develop. The hops are added at various stages of the brewing process, allowing each variety to contribute its own distinct characteristics to the final product.
The Role of Hops in Stella Artois
The combination of Saaz and Styrian Golding hops in Stella Artois is crucial to the beer’s crisp, clean taste and subtle bitterness. These hops provide a balanced and nuanced flavor profile, allowing the beer to be both refreshing and satisfying.
While the hops play a central role in Stella Artois, it is the careful balance of all ingredients and the meticulous brewing process that make this beer stand out among its peers.
In summary, Stella Artois is brewed using a blend of Saaz and Styrian Golding hops. These hop varieties contribute to the beer’s distinct flavor profile, characterized by its crisp, clean taste and subtle bitterness. To further appreciate Stella Artois, here are 10 facts about the subject:
1. Stella Artois was first brewed in 1926 in Leuven, Belgium.
2. The beer is named after the brewery’s original name, Den Hoorn, which means “the horn” in Dutch, and the star symbol on its label represents the Christmas Star.
3. Saaz hops have been cultivated in the Czech Republic for over 700 years.
4. Saaz hops are considered one of the four “noble” hop varieties.
5. Styrian Golding hops are a Slovenian hop variety with a history dating back to the late 19th century.
6. Both Saaz and Styrian Golding hops have low alpha acid content, making them ideal for beers with a more subtle bitterness.
7. The unique terroir of the Czech Republic and Slovenia is crucial to the distinct characteristics of Saaz and Styrian Golding hops, respectively.
8. Stella Artois undergoes a longer brewing process than most other lagers, contributing to its complex flavor profile.
9. The hops are added at various stages of the brewing process, allowing each variety to contribute its own distinct characteristics to the final product.
10. The careful balance of ingredients and meticulous brewing process make Stella Artois stand out among other pilsners.
Is Stella Artois a pilsner or a lager?
Stella Artois is a lager.
What is the stereotype of Stella Artois?
The stereotype of Stella Artois is that it is a high-quality, premium beer that is often associated with sophistication and European elegance.
Is Stella Artois considered a good beer?
Yeah I think so! Stella Artois is a popular Belgian lager that has won several awards and is enjoyed by many beer drinkers around the world.
Does Stella Artois taste good?
Yep, in my honest opinion it is. Stella Artois is a popular Belgian pilsner with a crisp, clean taste and a slightly bitter finish, and it is generally well-regarded by beer drinkers.
Why does Stella Artois have a bad reputation?
Stella Artois gained a bad reputation in the UK due to its popularity among binge drinkers and its association with anti-social behavior, leading to the media dubbing it “wife-beater” beer. However, this reputation is not shared globally and the brand has taken steps to distance itself from this image.
Why is Stella called wife beater?
Stella is called a “wife beater” because it is often associated with domestic violence, and the term “wife beater” has unfortunately become a slang term for a sleeveless undershirt, which is commonly worn by perpetrators of domestic violence in movies and TV shows.