Stella began its story in 1366 when the Den Hoorn brewery opened in Leuven, Belgium. Years later in 1936 the brewery released a Christmas Beer by the name of Stella Atrois. Stella being the Latin word for star, a reference to the Christmas star. If you happen to find a Stella Atrois glass to enjoy your beer in you will notice a star on the stem of the chalice to visually tie the name to the story.
My history with this beer does not go back as far. In 2015 I was living in Bahrain and even though it was a Muslim country Christmas Day flights were still about $1,000 dollars cheaper than anything before Christmas Eve. So spending Christmas Eve in Bahrain left me with no excuse not to attend my boss’ Christmas dinner. Here Stella was the beer he was offering with dinner. I apparently enjoyed that beer and myself enough that I nearly missed my international flight back to the states the following morning.
A Strong Pilsner-style lager (serving temp 43º F)
The beer pours with a golden clear color and leaves a medium crisp white head that semi-persist. Aromas of white bread malt sweetness rise off of the head. A light skunkyness comes through the smell behind the malt character. The hops give a slight floral character to the aroma. When tasted there is a light effervescent tingle on the mouthfeel. A fully attenuated beer leaves a crisp finish and no lingering aftertaste. The crisp finish slightly dries the mouth out and leaves the drinker wanting a second sip. The smell continues to be a mix of malty sweetness and light skunkyness. Not offensive enough to not enjoy, but definitely noticeable. The taste is a clean light malt taste with no perceived flavors of sunkiness. Hops flavor is not as noticeable as the aroma. The hops provide more of the bitterness to finish off the beer’s taste. Many other drinkers have noticed a skunkiness to these beers. This is most likely due to the clear bottles they are packaged in, which is a common reason. I would venture to say that even though I have a best by date of October 2022 on this bottle the handling of this beer from shipping in the United States brewery to Japan had some contribution to the off flavors.
The delicate and light flavors of Stella are best supported by the taste of grilled fish. Lightly seasoned with lemon, salt and pepper this simple recipe gently balances with the flavors of the beer. A bed of rice to compliment the fish and gives a vehicle for both the fish and beer. Because I am in Japan I would pair this with a distinctive Japanese convenience food. The nigiri, or rice ball, is just a ball or triangle of rice which may be packed around a piece of fish or seafood and wrapped in seaweed. This convenient on the go food would be a delightful pairing with this beer.