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Home » Road Trips

Stella Artois puts pouring skills to the test

Submitted by on August 17, 2010 – 4:00 am13 Comments

Photo by Gerard WalenIt’s easy to pour a beer. Put glass under tap, pull tap, stop when glass is full.

That’s what I thought until I heard about the Stella Artois pouring ritual, which requires nine steps for the “perfect pour.”

And potential Draught Masters are showing if they have mastered the techniques in series of local competitions across the United States, with the potential of advancing to the national finals in Boston on Sept. 17. The winner there will travel to London on Oct. 28 to compete against 31 other national champions from around the world to perform the centuries-old Belgian Pouring Ritual and compete for the 2010 Stella Artois World Draught Masters title.

The ultimate winner will visit more than 20 different countries as a Stella Artois brand ambassador. What a road trip!

Stella Artois traces its origin back to 1366 to the Den Hoorn brewery in Leuven, Belgium, just outside of Brussels. The beer was originally brewed to celebrate Christmas, and it was named Stella (Latin for “star”). In 1717, Master Brewer Sebastian Artois purchased the brewery and changed its name to Artois. The modern Stella Artois brewery, built in 2004, is still located in Leuven. The brand is currently owned by international conglomerate AB InBev.

The nine steps of the pouring ritual:

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

You can check out a video of the ritual here.

The regional semi-finals begin tonight in Tampa, then continue in Orlando (8/19), Las Vegas (8/25), Denver (8/26), Phoenix (8/27), New York (9/8), Boston (9/9) and Washington, D.C. (9/10)

Road Trips for Beer will be covering the Orlando competition, so expect a wrap-up here later this week.

By the way, Stella Artois has held this competition since 1997, and the last time someone from the U.S. won was in 2005, when Jessica Waltz beat runner-up Michel Denayer from … wait for it … Belgium!

For more information on the competition, go here.

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  • This is surely something that I want to follow closely here on Sept. 17th, but find it interesting that it’s Stella Artois that came up with this, and not say…Guinness.

    We know why you needed a Stella branded glass…cough cough….but I’ve always wondered…why rinse the glass out with water first? Any idea what the reason or thinking is behind that? Wouldn’t the excess water left in the glass only go towards “tainting” or changing the flavor of the beer in any way?

    Let us know how the Orlando competition goes! And picture are always great and most welcome. 😉


  • Wow…just watched the video you linked to….

    Don’t agree with the “beheading” though! LOL

    Is it just me…or does that seem like A LOT to go through just to pour a beer? Seems far more marketing and pretentious driven than actual taste and pour science. Honestly the only things I can see as actually important are the “sacrifice” and the actual “pour”. They can leave out the little “stem bib” for me too please 😉

    Still pretty damn entertaining and delicious to watch though!


  • Gerard says:

    Good question about the rinsing step. I was wondering the same thing. I’ll be sure to ask about it if I get a chance. Thanks for the comment!

  • @Gerard

    Yes please do let me know after your visit and when you find out. Very curious myself!


  • Alex says:

    I was told that the layer of water on the inside of the glass somehow helps the beer molecules slide across it or something. It was a very scientific explanation that went over my head.

    My personal theory is that it’s done to make sure that the glass doesn’t have any dust in it from a centuries old Belgian beer bar!


  • Gerard Walen says:

    Well, the Stella glasses I saw came right out of a corrugated cardboard box, but you bring up a good point, Alex. I usually give my glasses a quick rinse before pouring any beer into them just to make sure it doesn’t have any stray dust or cat hair in it. 🙂

  • Let’s not forget that there is always the possibility that there is no real reason behind it, and it’s all for show. Or to just display the wonderfulness that is being a “douche”.

    …..not that I’m complaining at all though 😉

  • Gerard Walen says:

    I kind of prefer drinking beer from a clean glass, so if that means I’m a beer douche, then so be it.

  • Alex says:

    Yeah, I can never complain about a clean glass. Some additions can make beer better, but dust isn’t usually one of them! Plus, I would take being called a beer douche as a compliment, I don’t think you can ever give to much care to a brew! 🙂

  • Gerard Walen says:

    I was just razzing Ilya, but from my observation, the “ritual” is probably half hype. The other half makes for a better pour, and possibly better taste. If I were a beer douche, though, I wouldn’t dirty my site writing about a beer that is owned by an international mega-brewer. However, I think Stella is a perfectly fine beer.

  • Alex says:

    Good attitude! I just found your site, and I’ve been enjoying reading through it. Keep it up!

  • Gerard Walen says:

    Thanks, Alex. And tell your friends. 🙂

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