UK: Consumers angered by Stella Artois reducing amount of alcohol
Stella Artois has angered beer-loving Brits after it changed its recipe to reduce the amount of alcohol in its lagers, The Sun reported on February 19.
Consumers say the beer now "tastes of nothing" following a reduction from 4.8% to 4.6% in September last year.
Stella owners Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I say they've lowered the alcohol content in its canned, draft and gluten-free versions to capitalise on the popularity of "wellness trends".
It last cut ABV from 5% to 4.8% in 2012 citing evolving drinking trends in the UK.
But the move is said to have saved previous brewers AB InBev up to £8.6 million a year in duty, according to alcoholpolicy.net.
The latest reduction has left beer lovers fuming and sparked a surge in one star reviews across supermarket websites from customers.
One person even joked they'd contracted coronavirus because they "could taste nothing" while sipping the lager. Losing your sense of taste is a key Covid-19 symptom.
In a scathing review on Tesco's website, the person wrote: "Today I cracked open a can of Stella 4.6% and thought I had Covid, since I could not taste anything."
They added: "Stella is now bland, insipid and already described as dishwater."
Another wrote: "A once great beer of the geezers. Now watered down to 4.6 per cent.
Wont be buying this anymore, off to find another beer that is at least 5 per cent, or are the English not trusted with that anymore."
One beer lover raged: Ruined now that ABV is down to 4.6%. Has a cheek to still describe itself as "Premium" beer."
"Tastes, even compared to some supermarket brands," another reviewer fumed.
"Would never have ordered these if I knew they were so watered down."
Research by the University of Sheffield found young people in the UK are drinking less, with as many as 25% of 16 to 24-year-olds abstaining from booze altogether, compared to just 10% a decade earlier.
A third of adults also say they've cut down on alcohol since the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, according to a survey by charity Alcohol Change UK.
Over the past few years, big high street brands have jumped on the )% alcohol trend, including Guinness, Becks and Heineken.
Stella said the recipe change was in line with its commitment to responsible drinking.
It wanted to give people greater choice in how they can moderate alcohol intake without having to sacrifice on the taste.
Dorien Nijs, brewmaster at the brewery in Leuven, Belgium, said: "We know that taste and quality remain the number one priority for Stella Artois drinkers, and we also recognise an ongoing health and wellness trend through moderation.
"We are proud that we can now deliver the same Stella Artois taste people know and love, with an ABV of 4.6 per cent."
The brewery added that the drop in alcohol content has not had a negative impact on sales.
Cans and bottles of Stella Artois are sold at all major supermarkets in a variety of pack sizes.
Prices vary by you can expect to pay around £13 for a box of 18 440ml cans, or around a fiver for four 568ml cans.
Other premium lagers include Carling and Foster's, which are both at 4% ABV, and Peroni at 5.1% ABV.
E-malt.com, the global information source for the brewing and malting industry professionals. The bi-weekly E-malt.com Newsletters feature latest industry news, statistics in graphs and tables, world barley and malt prices, and other relevant information. Click here to get full access to E-malt.com. If you are a Castle Malting client, you can get free access to E-malt.com website and publications. Contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org .