Stella Artois on the Art of Pouring, Judging, and Pairing Perfection

By Jennifer Russo and Erin Hansen

The Pouring

stella-artois9-copyStella Artois, with hundreds of years of brewing experience to its credit, is known for its commitment to exceptional taste and presentation. In fact, they have developed a time-honored nine-step pouring ritual that ensures the enjoyment of a perfect Stella Artois. It’s these 9 steps that ensure that all who serve Leuven’s gold standard lager to their customers will indeed be practicing pouring perfection. So next time you order a Stella at your favorite bar, you’ll know exactly the ritual your bartender should be following:

The Purification: Use clean and rinsed branded glass
The Sacrifice: Open the tap in one quick action and let the first drops of beer flow away
The Liquid Alchemy Begins: Hold the glass just under the tap at a 45 degree angle without touching it
The Head: Lower the glass to allow the natural formation of the foam head
The Removal: Close the tap quickly and move the glass away so beer doesn’t drip into the glass.
The Beheading: While the head foams up and overflows the side of the glass, smooth it gently with a head cutter.
The Judgment: The right amount of foam is usually about 2 fingers.
The Cleansing: Clean the bottom and sides of the glass.
The Bestowal: Present the beer on a clean beer coaster with the logo facing the customer.

The Judging

stella-artois-14-copyThe annual Stella Artois World Draught Master Competition ~ established in 1997 ~ heralds the importance of this pouring ritual. Contenders from all around the world compete to demonstrate their beer-serving prowess before a panel of distinguished judges who carefully scrutinize each and every step.

This year, Jennifer Russo, one of Pulse’s lead entertainment and dining writers and photographers, was selected to sit on that very panel, and shared her experiences judging the semi-final regional completion:

“To say that this was a rewarding experience would be an understatement. The International Contemporary Art (ICA) Museum was transformed into a beer pouring extravaganza, dimly lit with Stella Artois beer taps on stage, beautiful models in Stella logoed dresses, bartenders at their stations handing out free Stella the entire evening, and a tap set-up for daring attendees who wanted to take a stab at perfecting the pouring process themselves.

Sitting on the panel, I was faced with competitors who would try to flawlessly pour a goblet of Stella Artois and impress me with both their skill and personality. We were asked to judge each step of the pouring process on a scale of 1-10, and then judge the final overall appearance of the beer. They went head to head, two at a time, and once the points were tallied they appeared on the screen, declaring the winner of each round. Ultimately, the three top finalists would be sent to the National finals for a chance to be sent to London to compete to win the global title and $10,000. I have to say, these three competitors were well-practiced and ready to win. I had the opportunity to speak with one of those winners prior to the competition and found that he previously covered a past competition for the press and decided he would try his luck himself. To be honest, I am considering doing the very same thing!”

The Pairing

stella-artois-4-copyServing Stella Artois at any party will already make the event elegant ~ but if you really want to take it to the next level, impress your guests with you knowledge of Stella and cheese pairings (think appetizers!):

Type: Cheddar and other semi-hard cheeses like gruyere (great in cheese fondue!), gouda, and colby
Marc Stroobandt Master Beer Sommelier Notes: Stella Artois’s crisp hoppiness cuts through the richness of the cheese and brings out the full flavors. The soft, salty flavors of the cheese and the sweet maltiness of the beer balance with the hoppy, rich flavors.

Type: Pepper Jack, chipotle pepper gouda, and Mexicana cheese
Marc Stroobandt Master Beer Sommelier Notes: Stella first cleanses your palate ‘til you think that all the flavors of the cheese are washed away, but…surprise! The spicy notes return sans the fieriness, creating a wonderful balance of cheese, spices, and beer and a softer, tingling feeling on your tongue.

Type: Melted mozzarella, pecorino, provolone, parmesan
Marc Stroobandt Master Beer Sommelier Notes: Pizza, pasta with grated cheese, croquet monsieurs, or Belgian cheese croquettes are all perfect pairings for Stella Artois, as it brings out the rich, creamy textures and saltier flavors and then cleanses the palate for the next delicious bite.

For much, much more on the world of Stella Artois, visit www.stellaartois.com. And please remember to always drink alcohol responsibly and only if you are 21 or older.

Great news! The U.S. took the title of Stella Artois World Draught Master at the global finals. This marks only the second time in the competition’s 14-year history that someone from the U.S. won the title. Chris Myers, who qualified for the U.S. Finals during the New York City semi-finals, was awarded the title and Chalice trophy after beating out 24 competitors from around the world. Congratulations, Chris!