The re-entry of Celis Brewery into the Houston market after a 17-year absence has craft beer fans thrilled. Most have never had the chance to taste the famous Witbier that Pierre Celis saved from extinction in Hoegaarden, Belgium in 1965. These days, every craft brewer tackles the delightful and easy to drink Witbier, or Wheat/White beer, but few can say they’ve tasted the original.
Christine Celis explains first and foremost, “We are making my father’s original Witbier recipe and I cannot emphasize that enough.”
Christine Celis and Daytona Camps, daughter and granddaughter of the legendary brewmaster Pierre Celis, are in Houston this week to launch the resurrected Celis brand. The lineup includes the famous Celis White “Father of Witbier”, Celis Pale Bock, the seasonal Celis Grand Cru Tripel Ale; mostly time-tested family recipes, with the addition of one new beer, Celis Citrus Grandis, created by her daughter and fellow brewer Camps. Celis is excited to work with her daughter, “She’s as passionate as myself and my Dad.” Along with the Celis mainstay brews, the public can anticipate younger, innovative beers as well.
Celis is passionate about their product and her brewing heritage. “Our beers aren’t filling, there is always room to have a second Celis. We are using old Belgium brewing techniques with the best equipment. We import the proprietary yeast, because that’s what set us apart originally, that and we have been brewing for a really long time, which makes a big difference, the longer you brew, the better you get.”
In 1957, the last person making Witbier in the world, in Hoegaarden, Belgium, decided to hang up his hat. Luckily before he did so, he used his neighbor, Pierre Celis, as a helper, teaching him along the way. In 1965, after much urging from his friends, Celis began making Witbier as we know it today. He named it Hoegaarden and to this day Hoegaarden beer is still made using his recipe.
In 1985, Celis decided to relocate to the United States. Christine explains, “There were various reasons why we came to Austin. Primarily, because the water is similar to the water in Hoegaarden, it’s filtered through limestone and that calcium is needed to make Witbier. And, of course, it was a young city full of young people.”
In 1992 Celis and his daughter/partner Christine opened Celis Brewery. Their Celis White, among other brews, immediately turned heads and won several Great American Beer Festival awards over the years, often times taking home the gold.
In the early 1990’s Pierre Celis can be credited as one of the founders of the Texas craft beer movement, unfortunately, due to lack of consumer knowledge and the injection of fake and pseudo-craft brews into the state, the movement stalled out. The brewery closed in 2001 and since then Christine has been fighting to regain the Celis trademark. In 2017, she succeeded, and interestingly, Celis and her daughter will re-enter into a now saturated craft brew market.
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When asked how she would face this challenge she responded, “We are not a new brewery. I feel confident in our built-in clientele. The demand is there, all I needed to do is make the same beer my dad made.”
In three months, Celis Brewery beers will be available in bottles and cans. For now, you can taste them on tap around Houston. Christine and her daughter Daytona will be at events every day this week, culminating with a pub crawl in the Heights on Saturday.
Here’s your chance to try Celis Brewery beer around Houston from December 5-9. Tuesday: 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Cottonwood, 3422 North Shepherd, and 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Hay Merchant, 1100 Westheimer Rd. Wednesday: 6 to 9 p.m. at Axelrad, 1517 Alabama, 4 to 7 p.m. at Lucky’s Pub (Katy), 17754 Katy Fwy No. 1, and 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at World of Beer (Katy), 2643 Commercial Center Blvd b390. Thursday: 6 to 9 p.m. at Revelry, 1613 Richmond Avenue, 6 to 9 p.m. at Deacon Baldy’s, 5447 Fm 1488 and TBD at J Henry’s, 1105 Clear Lake City Bloulevard. Friday: 5 tp 8 p.m. at Nobi Public House, 241 East NASA Parkway, and 7 to 9 p.m. at Good Dog Montrose, 1312 West Alabama. Saturday: 2 to 6 p.m. Pub Crawl from Public House, 2802 White Oak to Onion Creek, 3106 White Oak to Christians Tailgate, 2820 White Oak.