Have you ever wondered why St. Stefanus is called The Beer with Heart? Is it because of the philanthropic roots of the brand, its rich story of survival or the passion the brewers pour into each and every bottle? While this is all true, St. Stefanus is also called The Beer with Heart because it’s a living beer – it matures in the bottle so you can choose how you want it to taste.
Here’s what master brewer, Jef Versele, has to say about St. Stefanus:
“St. Stefanus is extremely unique. It can be aged just like wine, allowing you to discover an incredible range of taste experiences each time you drink it. At 3 months the beer is light and fruity but by 18 months it develops a complex, more aromatic character. My personal preference is for the beer at 6 months. Try cellaring some yourself, it’s easier than you think."
St. Stefanus is incredibly unique because it doesn't just age in the bottle, it also ages in the keg. This allows you to experience the full range of St. Stefanus both at home and in bar. Click here to start your taste adventure today and see where you can buy St. Stefanus.
While cellaring suggests storing your beer in a basement or dedicated maturation room, ageing beer at home is actually far easier than it sounds. As beer is sensitive to heat and light, Jef recommends storing your St. Stefanus in a cool, dark room, somewhere between 8˚C and 16˚C.
Once you’ve chosen where to cellar your beer, you need to decide how long to keep it there. To really experience the full taste spectrum of St. Stefanus, Jef recommends four key milestones for ageing your beer: 6, 9, 12 and 18 months. And you’ve already got a head start: every bottle of St. Stefanus is aged for 3 months before being released from the brewery, so the ageing process has already started by the time it reaches you.
Yeast is the secret ingredient of beer maturation. By adding a unique strain of wild Jerumanus yeast before sealing each bottle of St. Stefanus – along with a dash of hot water and some sugar – a secondary fermentation process is triggered. As the yeast reacts with the sugar in the bottle, the beer comes to life, causing the flavours to mature and develop over time.
The two biggest variables when it comes to ageing your beer are temperature and light. Extreme cold temperatures can halt the ageing process by killing the yeast in the bottle, while higher temperatures can cause the beer to age too quickly and go bad. For optimum beer maturation, Jef recommends storing St. Stefanus between 8˚C and 16˚C in a dark room or cupboard.
When it comes to storing beer, there are many different techniques people use. One of the biggest debates is whether beer should be stored standing up or lying down. While many people prefer to store their beer stood up, Jef recommends lying the bottle down so that the yeast is distributed more evenly, providing the best possible maturation conditions. Which side are you on?
After you’ve started ageing your St. Stefanus, the question then becomes when to drink it. With all the patience and care that goes into cellaring your beer, Jef recommends that you enjoy it on a special occasion – perhaps at Christmas, on a birthday or even just on a Thursday evening.
Jef’s tip: “For the perfect serve, cool your bottle to 8˚C, hold your glass at 45˚ and pour from a height. By holding the bottle high above the glass, the CO2 build-up is able to escape, making for a smoother, more enjoyable taste."
As St. Stefanus is refermented in the bottle, it can been poured in two ways, ‘clear’ or ‘cloudy’. Jef’s favourite way to enjoy St. Stefanus is ‘cloudy’, as this gives the fullest flavour and aroma. Try both yourself and see which way is your favourite. For a ‘clear’ serve, leave one finger’s width of beer in the bottom of the bottle. For a ‘cloudy’ serve, pause after two-thirds of the beer has been poured and give the bottle a swirl. This mixes the yeast into the remainder of the liquid. Continue to pour all of the liquid into the glass for the perfect 'cloudy' finish.
The taste of St. Stefanus changes dramatically as it ages. From the fresh and fruity flavours at 3 months to the more complex and aromatic at 18 months, there are a full range of flavours just waiting to be experienced. See our ageing scale below for details of the appearance, aromas and tasting notes of St. Stefanus at different ages.
Just like wine, St. Stefanus is an excellent option when it comes to food pairing. Different ages of St. Stefanus can be combined with different dishes to create some truly incredible taste experiences. And thanks to the unique way St. Stefanus can be aged, the combinations you can come up with are endless.
The light, fruity flavours of a young St. Stefanus combine perfectly with strong, herby salads and desserts with seasonal fruits.
Whether you’re firing up the barbecue in the summer or stirring up a winter stew, a 9-12 month St. Stefanus is the ideal accompaniment.
If you’re looking for something to pair with steak and other red meat, an older St. Stefanus is an ideal accompaniment. The aromatic flavours of the beer combine perfectly with the meaty taste.
As well as being delicious to drink, St. Stefanus makes for an amazing ingredient in all kinds of cuisine. From sauces and marinades to stews and steaks, St. Stefanus adds real body and depth to any dish. For the latest beer-inspired recipes visit the St. Stefanus blog.
St. Stefanus loves connecting with its fans on social media. If you’ve recently been ageing St. Stefanus at home, share your experience on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also subscribe to the St. Stefanus YouTube channel for some great cellaring advice and other tips from Jef.
Discover the latest series of films to see how you can age St. Stefanus at home.