The long and storied history of Celis Wit may be coming to an end. Or maybe not. It was rumored that the brewery was due to be sold at auction next week. But as published in an online Forbes article, the company has stated that it was operating as normal and will be filing for chapter 11 restructuring, which could conceivably keep the historic Celis Brewery in business.
The company is currently owned by Christine Celis, the daughter of the founder Pierre Celis. The story goes back to 1966 when Pierre opened the first Celis Brewery in his hometown of Hoegaarden, Belgium to resurrect the Belgium Wit style which had mostly gone extinct. Hoegaarden revitalized the style as it became widely popular among beer fans across the world including in the U.S. during the 1980’s when it was imported along with notable brands such as Duvel and Chimay.
The brewery burned down in 1985 and Pierre sold the name to Anheuser-Busch InBev which brought it back as the Hoegaarden brand. It quickly lost its cult following as many felt the recipe had been significantly changed.
Pierre then moved to Texas, where he opened the Celis Brewery in 1992 to the delight of craft brewers in the U.S. who were then just beginning to gain a small foothold in the U.S. beer market. After 10 years Pierre sold a majority share to Miller Brewing to help him expand production. Instead, according to craftbeer.com, Miller pulled the beer out of 25 states and shut down production at the turn of the century. Pierre Celis passed away in 2011. Christine was able to gain rights to the Celis name and opened the latest incarnation of the Celis Brewery in Austin, Texas in 2017.