this post can be accompanied with any of the following tracks:
In the 1990's, Austin was home to the Celis Brewery. I don't think their distribution reached far outside of Central Texas, but they were much beloved here in The City with the Violet Crown. Prior to the arrival of Celis, local favorites were more or less Shiner Bock and, while we had Lone Star, it was sort of reserved for "we're cooking burgers and it's 100 degrees out and no one cares" drinking.
I wasn't much of a beer snob (I still definitely am not), but I knows what I likes. And I was a fan of Celis, particularly Celis White. Also, Celis Pale Rider, but we're not here to talk about that one today. If you read the picture above you'll note that Celis was brewed in the Belgian style. I didn't know much about that then or now, but in our poor college and post college days, it was a bit of a premium beer that folks agreed upon, and if someone brought it over, it was like a sign of respect.
Eventually, as happened with many fine beers of the 90's, the brand was purchased by a larger company, they attempted wider geographic distribution but it didn't take. So, instead of just giving it back and letting us live our lives, they shut it down. Why? Why do that? Just let us have the beer.
Anyway, flashforward to 2016 and it became clear Celis was coming back. The family had re-obtained all the legal necessaries, they got a brewery going again, and last week when I was walking through HEB (the Texas-based grocery store chain that is to Texas what Publix is to our friends in The Sunshine State) and one of those PR folks was handing out samples. I mean, I didn't need a sample if I properly remembered the '90's, but it was a happy exchange and I walked away with a six-pack of Celis White, what I consider (and I assume they do, too) the flagship of Celis.
This week was bananas. I could have just popped a beer, but JimD, also a product of 90's Austin, suggested an old-school Taste Test (this was something we did from time to time at the League of Melbotis blog). So, here we are.
|Lucy, underage, will not be participating in this nonsense|
Your humble blogger:
|not so much a forehead as a five-head|
I admit, I'm a bit wary. The 90's were a long time ago. Celis was one of the best beers I had *at the time*, but I'm not going to pretend I haven't had some good beer inbetween. Can nostalgia have led me astray?
I should also point out: I am aware you people have decided "right now, I'm really into some really hoppy beers" - your code for: if it's not so hoppy your beer burns, you won't take anything else seriously. Well, I've always liked something more wheat-y, also - that's a plain dumb standard, you nerd.
|If you think this is a 90's wardrobe change, no. I have dressed the same since 1997. I don't need to change, YOU change.|
I'd like to say the smell immediately sends me back to 1996, blasting Hootie and the Blowfish and trying to sort out whats in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction (or whatever we did in the mid-90's). But, it was mostly just a very pleasant aroma. Can I detect the orange and coriander? No. Hell no. But not all beer smells great (check out a Danish beer sometime), and this one kinda does. In a beer-y way.
|the first sip|
|give it another go|
|we dig it|
It's a lighter beer, wheaty with a strong personality. You can definitely pick up on some citrus notes, but I'm realizing I don't actually know what coriander tastes or smells like. I'm also not particularly adept at describing *good* flavors, but it's a welcome difference from other wheat beers I've enjoyed in recent years. Not as smooth as, say, a Blue Moon, but it's not supposed to be that innocuous. There's something a bit stronger going on, but I think I'd rip off their idea and try this with an orange at some point.
|The Signal Watch Seal of Approval|
In short, I'm thrilled to have it back. In pondering this beer and this post, I may be realizing that my taste for wheat beers may have flowed from Celis White, lo, those many years ago. Long live Celis.
I am a bit concerned as Austin has a crowded beer scene these days - one that in no way existed during the 1990's. And, Celis has some cultural issues to overcome. Austin has grown a lot since the heyday of Celis, and the younger kids and newcomers won't remember it or have the nostalgia to immediately reach for a six-pack. And, frankly, people are super weird about Old Austin and are extremely quick to dismiss what the olds once did (when people say "that's so Austin," I've lived here since the mid-80's, and I have no idea what the kids mean by that these days), and people my age will immediately begin telling you what rubes Austinites once were. So, so cosmopolitan these days. We don't trust who we were back then. That's okay.
The best thing for Celis to do is keep making good beers and not worry about it. The hops nerds will keep telling themselves they've uncovered some mystery and the rest of us will enjoy a good wheat beer.
|and you wonder why I drink|
Jamie, of course, was not going to be left out, and I refuse to deny my darling buttercup anything her precious heart desires.
|HEY. That lady took my beer!|
|a thought grows|
|A ringing endorsement from Troubles McSteans!|
Lucy, on the other hand...
|I have no thumbs. I can't even try to hold that bottle, lady.|