When I was in college at The University of Texas in the 1990s, you drank Shiner day to day, but special occasions called for Celis. Celis was a Belgian-style beer brewed by a Belgian immigrant named Pierre Celis — the original creator of Hoegaarden — who moved to Austin, of all places, and started a true microbrewery before there really was such a thing.
After I moved to California, Celis was purchased by Miller and the Austin plant was shut down in 2000. The brand changed hands a few times, never seeing much success, until it vanished altogether. In 2012 it was miraculously revived by Pierre’s daughter Christine. It took five years for the plan to get underway, but in 2017 Celis was coming off the production line again… in Austin, Texas.
It’s a great little story, and seeing a bottle of Celis for the first time in nearly 20 years is enough to bring a tear to your eye. Its flagship brew, Celis White, is also now being canned for the first time. This witbier, reviewed below, is a classic Belginan wit, brewed with orange peel and coriander.
Let’s give it a taste as of 2018.
Nostalgia in a bottle (or can), Celis White brings back a flood of memories — it was probably the first Belgian style beer I’d ever tried. The coriander notes are what have stuck in my brain for two decades. An acquired taste in a world of hoppy ales, its exotic, almost eastern, spices meld intriguingly with the hefty malt backbone. The orange peel doesn’t linger far behind, giving the finish a bitterness along with a hint of fruit.
Back in the day, it was always a beer you had to think about, almost struggle with, and in 2018 things are no different. Welcome back!
B+ / $8 per six-pack / celisbeers.com