Christine Celis revives a centuries-old brewing craft, along with her father’s legacy, with the reopening of Celis Brewery.
By Mikaila Rushing, Photos courtesy of Celis Brewery
In 1965, a man named Pierre Celis singlehandedly revived a centuries-old tradition: the brewing of Hoegaarden’s Belgian white beer. After the last brewery in Belgium to produce the white beer closed in 1957, Celis decided to open his own brewery, de Kluis, which became quite the success in Hoegaarden, Belgium.
Time comes with change, though, and after a fire in 1989 and a partnership with a larger company, Celis decided to retire and moved to Austin with his daughter, Christine Celis, to start Celis Brewery. Their craft beer was such a hit that, even while churning out 23,000 barrels a day, Celis couldn’t keep up with the demand and eventually started a partnership with Miller Brewing Company. However, conflicting goals eventually came to a head and Celis Brewery was sold to Miller. In 2001, Celis was closed, the brewery’s equipment sold.
Fast-forward 15 years, and Christine Celis, along with her team, decided to revive her father’s legacy and bring Celis Brewery back to Austin. They found the right equipment, the right location—off Metric Boulevard in North Austin—and the right partners, then opened the doors June 12. Celis has received a warm welcome from the Austin community, including from many who remember the brewery from years past.
Christine Celis says the most important things in brewing are presentation, quality and, in her company’s case, legacy.
In bringing back her father’s craft, Christine Celis’ own daughter decided to join her, continuing in the family tradition of producing one of Belgium’s—and now Austin’s—most prolific beers.
“I’m just so grateful for Austin and for everybody in Austin to believe in Celis again, to embrace us,” Christine Celis says. “It’s like having one big family again, like we had before.”
What’s the Hops?
Christine Celis is currently working on an expansion of Celis Brewery that will include a pavilion, a beer garden and, most notably, a Celis Museum and revived, historic brewery. Celis had much of her father’s original equipment from when he opened de Kluis brought over from Hoegaarden, Belgium. Some of the equipment dates back to 1914, while a few copper kettles date back to the late 1800s. Much of the equipment is still in operation and Christine Celis hopes to incorporate these tools into her company’s current manufacturing line, all in an effort to give customers a taste of the original Celis Brewery.