Cheers to Beers

Austin beer legend surprises us all by reopening iconic brewery

Austin beer legend surprises us all by reopening iconic brewery

Christine Celis in Hoegaarden
Austin's first craft brewery reopens this spring. Photo courtesy of Christine Celis

Here's a big batch of brew news for you: Christine Celis will reopen Austin's legendary Celis Brewery this spring. The project, announced last year, was previously known as Flemish Fox Brewery and Craftworks.

Celis Brewery was the work of legendary brewmaster Pierre Celis, Christine's father, who played an integral part in the development of the local beer scene, opening Austin's first craft brewery in 1992 and introducing his Belgian-style witbier to the area.

After a buyout by Miller Brewing Company, Celis Brewery shuttered — and with it went the family name. Rights to the Celis brand and beer were eventually acquired by Total Beverage Solutions and Craftbev International Amalgamated Inc. A deal was brokered in February for Christine to use the name.

"I've been working on this for a very long time and it was always my desire to have the name back, but not knowing if that was actually a possibility, we called it Flemish Fox," Christine explains. "People were willing to sell the name to me because they knew that I was going to continue my dad's legacy."

That legacy includes Celis standards such as the award-winning White and Grand Cru. Also making a comeback are a handful of original team members, with new additions like Christine's daughter and brewer, Daytona Camps, rounding out the lineup.

All details about the forthcoming brewery remain the same. In addition to a production and distribution facility, the large warehouse complex in North Austin includes a beer garden and taproom; cafe; and 3,800-square-foot museum which will house original equipment that Pierre Celis brewed with in his hometown of Hoegaarden, Belgium.

The equipment is historically significant for many reasons. Hoegaarden, the birthplace of Belgian witbier, lost its last wheat beer brewery in 1955. But in 1965, after trying his hand at home brewing, Pierre opened his own witbier brewery. Celis beer became a huge success in Belgium, eventually relocating to Austin in the '90s.

Christine plans to pick back up where she and her father left off by hosting live music events, giving back to charity, and having beer enthusiasts and professionals come through to learn more about brewing.

For 15 years Christine tried tirelessly to earn back the Celis name and the rights to brew her father's beer. "You never give up. At the right time, there is always a solution — things will fall into place," she says. "We got the right location, we got the right team, we got the name."

Celis Brewery is scheduled to debut this spring at 10001 Metric Blvd., joining several other Austin brew spots in the area. The brewery will be the first part of the complex to open, followed by the beer garden, the Belgian Brown cafe, and the museum.