Author Jeremy Banas dives into the three iterations of the Celis Witbier in his book about Pierre Celis and his journey from Belgium to Texas and back and, at least to me, it reads as a cautionary tale about the business of beer.
Twice, Pierre Celis ran into financial roadblocks and twice he sold. Once to the predecessor of SABInBev and once to Miller to keep his brewery afloat. Both times the beer was quickly changed to cheaper ingredients and Pierre would find himself persona non grata at the office.
Granted the first sale of the Belgian brewery was precipitated by a destructive fire but to then head to Austin and get figuratively burnt again after the Michael Jackson tells you that selling would be a bad plan seems like a person who needs a financial guru in their corner so that Pierre could focus on being a brand ambassador and brewer.
The third attempt led by Pierre’s daughter Christine has also ran into financial issues as well as having to fight to regain the Celis name and to weather a pandemic.
Throughout it all the Hoegarden nee Celis White stands the test of time when it comes to the witbier style. And I certainly hope that, this time, if the brewery falls that the recipe or “name” not be sold again.
Once you get past the undercapitalized portion of this story, you see the drive to keep a beer style alive and the pure love of beer that Pierre had and with each page turn, I wanted to visit Belgian breweries more so in that respect Banas succeeded in his tale.