This refreshing Belgian brew is among the world’s most popular beers. But is Stella Artois gluten free? Or should you opt for an alternative if you’re on a gluten-free diet?
Stella beer is made with 4 key ingredients: water, hops, maize, and malted barley. Hops and maize are gluten-free ingredients. It’s that last one, barely, that raises flags for those with gluten intolerance or sensitivity.
Stella Artois is not gluten free, primarily because it uses malted barley in the production process.
However, there is some good news if you’re gluten intolerant but still like the taste of Stella. Read on to find out.
What is Stella Artois Beer?
Though some consider Stella to be a Pilsner, the company refers to its flagship beer as a pale Lager. Originally from Belgium, it’s light in color and features a crisp, clean finish and distinctive taste.
Stella Artois dates back more than 650 years ago — to 1366. That’s when brewers at the Den Hoorn Brewery in Leuven, Belgium began making the beer and gifting it to local residents during the Christmas holidays.
Roughly 350 years later, brewmaster Sebastian Artois bought the brewery. It was passed on to later generations until the mid-19th century, when it changed hands to another family, the Marnefs.
The brewery began producing a version of its renowned light-colored Pilsner near the end of the 19th century, when it started to brew German and Czech-style beers. This marked a shift from top-fermented beers common with ales to bottom-fermented beers, more typical of lagers and pilsners.
By the start of World War I, Stella Artois had become the second-biggest brewery in Belgium. After the war, Stella brewers again altered their fermentation process and began making a light-colored beer with Saaz hops, which are still used in its recipe today.
This marked the first time Stella began producing the style of beer that it’s now known for.
Is Stella Artois Beer Gluten Free?
Ok, we know that Stella Artois contains malted barley, but why does that make it off-limits for those who can’t consume gluten?
Well, barley contains gluten proteins called ‘gliadin’. This results in a level of over 20 ppm of gluten (parts per million) in each bottle. According to rules from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, only products with gluten content levels below that amount can be termed “gluten-free.”
So Stella beer cannot be called gluten free.
That means if you have Celiac disease or simply are on a gluten-free diet, you may want to think twice before ordering up a pint of Stella.
But wait beer lovers, there’s a bit more to this story. Enter… Gluten Free Stella.
What is Gluten Free Stella Artois?
In 2018, Stella released a gluten-free version of its flagship beer in the UK. Interestingly, the ingredients list remained the same. But they use a special enzyme to remove (or at least significantly lower) the gluten from the barley. Though there still might be residual traces of gluten in the final product.
How does it compare to original Stella?
Stella Artois gluten-free beer has lower calories than the original (39 compared to 141), lower carbs (3.2 vs 10.9), and lower alcohol content (4.6% vs 5% ABV).
But the beer maker claims it tastes very similar to regular Stella.
That said, if you live in the U.S., you may need to look elsewhere to satisfy your Stella thirst. There’s no word on whether or when the gluten-free version will be available in the United States.
Is Stella Cidre Gluten Free?
If you can’t wait for gluten-free Stella beer to make it to the U.S., you may consider giving Stella Cidre a try instead.
This European style apple cider is gluten-free, but it includes hops so you may notice a slight beer flavor. While you won’t get the same Pilsner taste you would from a traditional Stella, this may be the closest you can get to a gluten-free Stella product in the U.S.
What are some gluten-free beer alternatives?
While gluten-free Stella beer may not be available at your local grocery store, there are several gluten-free options and gluten-reduced beers that are widely available. And many are craft beers. Popular brands include:
- Omission Lager
- Ghostfish Brewing Company
- Stone Brewing
- Bierly Brewing
- New Planet
Stella makes three main beverages: Original Stella Artois beer, Stella Artois Liberte, which is an alcohol-free beer, and Stella Artois Cidre, a dry apple cider.
Stella Artois has its roots in Belgium and was originally brewed in the town of Leuven, near Brussels. Now Stella is brewed in several other countries including the U.S, the U.K., and Australia.
So, is Stella Artois beer gluten free? Unfortunately, original Stella is not gluten free, as it contains malted barley.
While a gluten-free version of the Belgian beer is available in the U.K., it’s currently unavailable for beer drinkers stateside. And technically, it’s a gluten-reduced or gluten-removed beer, since it still includes barley malt as a main ingredient. Albeit modified during the brewing process to create lower gluten levels.
If you’re looking for a gluten-free Stella beverage, Stella Artois cider may hit the spot.
Or try one of several gluten-free beer alternatives on the market today.
More gluten-related answers
Discover whether some other foods and drinks are gluten-free. Check out these posts.
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