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Dec 20, 2013 07:15 AM


Well, it turns out they were sold, yet again. this time to some distributor who also just bought Humbolt (Red Nektar?). So, I guess the chance of really seeing Celis again is pretty slim. Sad.

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  1. It's still brewed in Belgium by Van Steenberge (, which might export to the US. This version, btw, is the original - it is what Pierre Celis created before INBEV pushed him out of Hoegaarden.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ThomasvanDale

      Didn't know that. I was hoping for fresh ,local tasty in the USA. Of all the Wit's only Allagash does it for me.

    2. Yes, the brand was purchased by the beer, wine and spirits importer called Total Beverage Solutions. They picked up the import rights to many of Heineken's secondary brands after Heineken closed their "other" US import division, Star Brands. TBS also acts as a "master distributor" for a few domestic brands like Southampton and Shipyard.

      TBS bought the Celis brand from an outfit called "CraftBev" which claimed to be connected to Celis' daughter. CraftBev bought the brand at auction (supposed under the noses of MillerCoors' which bought a lot of Michigan Brewing Co's equipment), but the story of the agreement/deal (or lack of it) with Christine Celis has yet to come out.

      I don't know why you would think TBS's purchase suggests the chances are "slim" that Celis would return (again) - why would they spend the money on a brand if they didn't intend to brew it - well, contract-brew it anyway?

      3 Replies
      1. re: JessKidden

        Jess, Do you mean to say that MillerCoorsSAB was gonna buy Celis brand back and the equipment? If so, that sounds strange. As for my disbelieve in Celis finally returning, well, I've seen similar things in my business. A big guy buys a defunct brand for whatever reason and never uses it. I hope it ain't so.

        1. re: MOREKASHA

          > Do you mean to say that MillerCoors was gonna buy Celis brand back and the equipment?

          Well, that was the rumor- and they were at the auction and bid/won some equipment. They later denied they were after Celis, so----.

          See also:


          > A big guy buys a defunct brand for whatever reason and never uses it.

          Yeah, that was part of the supposition (or, more properly, "instant urban legend"?) on why MC would attempt to buy the Celis brand - to keep it from competing with Blue Moon.

          But I don't think TBS qualifies in this case as a "big guy" - just another entity jumping into US craft beer market. Just the fact that they put out that Press Release and already list "Celis" as one of their brands with the note "CELIS LABELS COMING SOON", suggest that they're not trying to kill the brand (and they really don't have a product that would compete head-to-head in that segment).

          I don't know, the history of "revived" brands - whether old-line retros -Rheingold, seemingly dozens of others - or early crafts -New Albion, Tupper's Hop Pocket- isn't too positive, with a few notable exceptions - like Narragansett.

          The newer drinkers shrug "1990s? Who cares?" and the original drinkers have either moved on or will be unimpressed - "Just not the same...".

          1. re: JessKidden

            I don't think Tuppers' fits here. Bob and Ellie were reviving their own brand, for one thing, as opposed to some unrelated party buying the brand. Also, they had very specific requirements, and the end result was a much higher price point.

            However, in general, I agree with your argument.

      2. There are a few other witbiers that I have had which taste a lot better than Celis and the original Hoegaarden White. Perhaps my favorite is Blanche de Namur. Anyone had it?

        1. Celis was an amazing beer. To some degree, it was my introduction to Belgian-style beers and to Austin when I interviewed for a job there after grad school.

          I ended up making the leap to all-grain homebrewing to attempt to brew a real white beer after they withdrew from GA. And that stuff is hard to brew, between the sticky mash and the oddly-acclimated yeast (Wyeast).

          I picked up a collection of their glassware during my visits there after the first one. I haven't broken one recently, but I remember how upset I was when one of the tulip glasses (Grand Cru) broke in the dishwasher some years ago.

          JessKidden is right- the beer landscape probably has evolved out from under the Celis beers. But you have to give Pierre credit as an amazing pioneer.

          18 Replies
          1. re: ted

            Pierre was a pioneer and a very nice man.

            1. re: Jim Dorsch

              Celis was a pioneer? What is this based on?

              1. re: ThomasvanDale

                Read up on Celis and his accomplishments, and I think you will agree with what Jim writes.

                1. re: Tripeler

                  I know quite well what Celis did and that is precisely why I asked the question.

                  1. re: ThomasvanDale

                    In that case it's a matter of opinion and we have nothing more to discuss.

                    1. re: Jim Dorsch

                      Celis was a dairy man, who as a youth, had spent time at a neighbourhood brewery. Eventually, that brewery (the last witbier brewery in the village) closed and a few years later, Celis, who missed that type of beer, decided to try to brew it himself.

                      These are facts, not opinons. A pioneer is "an innovator or developer of something new". Also a fact, not an opionion. I don't see how you can call someone a pioneer for recreating something. And, no, I don't see it as "a matter of opinion."

                      1. re: ThomasvanDale

                        Also your opinion. I will say no more.

                        1. re: ThomasvanDale

                          Another definition of pioneer is:

                          "a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area."

                          There weren't too many witbiers of note in the USA, especially in Texas, when he started doing his thing. So how is he not a pioneer?

                          1. re: RB Hound

                            Pierre Celis rescued a type of beer that had died. That is, in my view, a noble accomplishment.

                            However, calling him a pioneer is like calling Frank Sinatra a great writer.

                            1. re: ThomasvanDale

                              So, you are claiming that there was plenty of wibier in Texas, or the states, in the pre-Prohibition era? There might have been - I'm just asking.

                              1. re: RB Hound

                                I'm not American. I haven't the foggiest idea what was sold in Texas.

                                Let me ask you: a few years ago, Ben and Jerries ice cream appeared in my local supermarket. Does that make the Ben and Jerries company pioneers?

                                1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                  Is ice cream a completely alien foreign style of dessert that has not been seen in your area in memory and thought to be extinct?

                                  1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                    If that style of ice cream was not previously available in your local supermarket, yes, they are pioneers in your country.

                                    If you aren't American, then why are you parsing American English (which was what Jim Dorsch was obviously using)?

                                    1. re: RB Hound

                                      Since there seem to be desparate attempts to prove that Celis was a pioneer, I would like to ask: is Celis revered in the US along the lines that Michael J. is?

                                      To (try to) put an end to this discussion, does any one know why Celis went to Texas?

                                      (And RB: almost everyone in my country speaks English. We learn it in school and then from films and TV. Does that answer your question?)

                                      1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                        Apprehensive about wading into this debate but.....

                                        ....while in Austin awhile back I listened to a PBS (I think) story on the radio about the rebirth of Celis by his daughter. Apparently, Celis wanted to move to the US generally but was afraid that he'd have diffiiculty with the language, not being a native English speaker. He chose Texas because he'd heard the people there spoke slowly.

                                        1. re: steveprez

                                          Pierre used to tell the story about the language regularly, I assume due to its humor value.

                                          1. re: steveprez

                                            This is partly correct. His daughter married an American and moved to Texas. She had a child and Pierre went to visit both his daughter and his grandchild. He did not plan to move there. I don't know exactly how it came about that he eventually opened a brewery there (it was certainly not his original intention), but, after a few years, he entered into a distribution arrangment with Miller brewery and it became something of repeat of his experience with Interbrew. At that point, he returned to Belgium, where he remained until his death in 2011.

                                            1. re: steveprez

                                              hmmm. Back then the marketing spin was that he chose Austin because the mineral content in the water was close to what he had in Belgium.