There are times, when life is hard. Although there are people, who have nothing and without any provisions life is showing them the path to success and there are lots of examples. Sometimes, the successes have been accompanied by fame and money, others with simple satisfaction and recognition, perhaps, in the future. Our topic today is a common man who loved beer, he was working as milkman, but his desire to revive his favorite beer style of the region led him to become a brewer.
To this man we owe, that nowadays we drink the famous Belgian Hoegaarden. The beer was being produced by monks in Hoegaarden, east of Brussels, for many centuries, from about 1318. The city, famous for its style of beer, was producing, which was quite popular until the rise of Lager style, something that, led to a closing, even the last active brewery. In 1957 the Tomsin Brewery, is closing the cocks and along with them the flow of the Belgian White or otherwise White Beer or Whitbier stops.
A few years ago, a young man from the area, born in 1925, named Pierre Celis, was semi-employed at the brewery. In 1960, three years after the last operation of the brewery, Celis, along with several friends, were already recalling their favorite beer. Nothing, prevent him to start producing the recipe he remembered from his youth, a recipe that he had worked many times. The beginning was in his father’s barn. He made a trial beer, as he remembered it, he added some Curacao peels and coriander and the result was the beer we all know today. So in 1966, he set up his own brewery, Celis Brewery, where he used machines with 25 hl. Later he moved the brewery in an old refreshments factory. The beer that he produced earned the name of the city, ie Hoegaarden. Eleven years after the last drop of Witbier, the city had again something of its own to drink.
With methodical work and love, output was growing more and more as the demand. The business was going well (300,000 hectoliters per year) until 1985 when a sudden fire destroyed the brewery. Without funds to reconstruct Celis, received funding of Interbrew, a larger brewery than his own and continued the production (the Interbrew is now the world power Anheuser-Busch InBev). In 1990, the beer recipe was acquired by the colossus. Celis, traveled to America, where in 1992 founded (for the second time) Celis Brewery, in Austin. He was then 67 years old!
In the U.S., he produced exactly the same beer named Celis White. Of course, the activity was not limited to just one beer, he produced, other styles as well. Unfortunately, the brewery did not financially back on track as the previous in Belgium. The quality of its products however brought another colossus infront of his door. In 1995, Miller Brewing Company (now MillerCoors) acquired the majority of the brewery. In 2001, Miller closed the brewery and sold the rights of Celis beers in Michigan Brewing Company.
In 1999, Celis worked with Grottenbier, to produce beers with his name, launching a series of Pierre Celis Signature Series. The beers aged in Riemst caves in Belgium. The milkman by profession and an amateur brewer originally lived in Hoegaarden until April 9, 2011, when he died at the age of 86. He was born on March 21, 1925, kid of a farming family. Until his death, he participated in brewing demonstrations, seminars and lead the Brewers Guild in Hoegaarden.
So if you like Hoegaarden and the Belgian Witbier, then you know to whom you owe their production today.
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Ο Νικολά Ραδίσης, είναι ο ιδρυτής του BeerBartender και κύριος αρθρογράφος του beerbartender.gr. Είναι Σύμβουλος Μπύρας και επιμελείται την λίστα μπύρας και αρθρογραφεί σχετικά μ' αυτή, στο House of Wine. Είναι μέλος της Ένωσης Μπάρμεν Ελλάδος, του British Guild of Beer Writers και της CAMRA.
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