STELLA Artois has angered boozy Brits after it changed its recipe to reduce the amount of alcohol in its lagers.
Boozers 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".
But the move 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.
“Won’t 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.
NHS guidelines on drinking alcohol
According to the NHS, regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week risks damaging your health.
To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level if you drink most weeks:
- men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
- spread your drinking over 3 or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week
- if you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week
If you're pregnant or think you could become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.
You read more on the NHS website.
"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.
Remember to always drink responsibly and check out Drinkaware.
There's hope that Brits will be able to sip on a draught pint from April if pubs are given the go ahead to serve outdoors drinks.
There reports that drinkers won't have to order a "substantial meal" either.
The Prime Minister is set to outline his road map for easing England out of the current coronavirus lockdown next Monday, February 22.
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