Historic Beer Birthday: Pierre Celis

A true brewing legend, who was treated like a rock star in Belgium where they care about their national beers, Pierre Celis would have been 92 today. Celis single-handedly revived the style witbier in the 1960s when he was a brewer at Hoegaarden. He later moved to Texas to start a microbrewery with his daughter Christine, which was sold to Miller in 1995. More recently, he was making three cave-aged beers under the label Grottenbier at St. Bernardus in Belgium. Unfortunately, Pierre passed away almost six years ago in April. Pierre was a terrific person and his absence is still deeply felt. The last I heard, his daughter Christine was working on a great-sounding project that will honor her father’s memory and also produce some terrific beers, too. That project is now closer to opening. Join me in drinking a toast to the memory of Pierre Celis.

With Pierre at the Craft Brewers Conference in New Orleans quite a few years ago.

At GABF in 2006.


  1. says

    These are great pictures! Happy Birthday Pierre! With spring comes the reminder that it’s almost time to get
    my first case (PA law, you know) of the season of Celis White, one of my favorite warmer weather beers.

  2. myriam felidj says

    Celis ‘s beers will always be the best, because they are made whit love.
    After the birthday of Pierre, it is the bithday of is daughter.
    So Happy birthday Christine.

  3. says

    I had the great fortune of living in TX before Celis was sold. Celis White and Shiner Bock were my first realizations that beer could be something beyond the flavor-void beers I had been drinking. The man is a master, and I just happen to have a couple of Grottenbiers in the fridge right now to toast him on his Birthday.

    Cheers to Pierre! For his amazing contribution to beer, beginning my understanding of what it can be, and for some of my hangovers back in college!

  4. John E Fresh says

    Happy Birthday Pierre!

    I ran into Pierre regularly at the GABF in the early/mid 90’s. Although I was just a beer drinker, he always remembered me and treated me like I was a good friend of his. A photo with him hangs at Marin Brewing. Thanks Brendan

  5. Mr. Nuts says

    Happy birthday — and many more.

    Amazing how Miller goes and buys the brewery — then closes it for not generating sufficient volume.

    Instead of chasing volume — how about looking at profit margins for once?

  6. Ed Chainey says

    Happy Birthday to you both, Pierre & Christine!

    I think that Celis’ beer was the inspiration (but not the recipe!) for Blue Moon. The timing is about right, as much as the wrong path was taken, by discontinuing such a noble brand for bad marketing reasons. C’est La Vie!

  7. says

    It should be noted, as I am always disappointed slightly in write-ups of Pierre, that Celis White, and a whole line of Celis beers (including the wonderful Celis Grand Cru) are still being produced.
    When Miller Brewing shuttered the Celis Brewery, much of the equipment AND the name rights and recipes were purchased by Bobby Mason of Michigan Brewing Company.
    The brand was relaunched in (I believe) 2000, under the direction of (at the time) Brewmaster Dan Rogers and Brewer Joe Short (familiar names?)
    Prior to launch, Pierre spent several months up here in Michigan, offering the brewers some insight into traditional Witbier brewing.
    Celis White is still produced year-round today, and remains THE benchmark for Belgian Witbiers.
    Happy Birthday, Pierre (rip) and Christine.
    Cheers! …from Michigan, the Great Beer State!

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