New book explores the history, influence of Austin craft beer pioneer Pierre Celis
Pierre Celis founded his pioneering namesake brewery in Austin in 1992, but what was this Belgian expat doing in Austin?
That's the story Jeremy Banas set out to sell in his new book, "Celis Beer: Born In Belgium, Brewed In Texas,” which came out in February.
There are more than 50 breweries in Central Texas now, but when Pierre Celis moved here in the early 1990s, there were none. The Belgian brewer was already known for reviving an old style of beer called a wit or witber, and when he moved to the U.S. in the early 1990s, he brought with him a sample of the original yeast strain that he'd been using for his famous Wit for the past 30 years.
He started Celis Beer in 1992, effectively kicking off the modern craft beer era in Austin, but the brewery closed in 2001 after Celis sold the company to Miller Brewing. Celis died in 2011, and his daughter, Christine, famously revived the brand in 2017. Celis Brewery is now at 10001 Metric Blvd., where it continues to sell Belgian-style ales and the original Hoegaarden witbier. (And Celis' granddaughter, Daytona, is also in the business.)
Banas, a freelancer journalist based in San Antonio, traveled to Belgium to hear from people who were in Celis' life in the 1950s to the 1980s, when he was a milkman-turned-brewer, but most of the book takes place in Austin.
Banas has two upcoming book signing events at Big Hops Bitters in San Antonio at 1 p.m. April 17 and another one at Dally's Down Under in Johnson City at 2 p.m. April 24.