The art of white beer brewing was thanks to the
work of monks living in the small Belgian town of Hoegaarden, they discovered
the recipe in 1445 (as the bottle suggests). Hoegaarden's monks were so good at
their job of making beer and wine that at one point in time there was over 30
small farmhouse breweries in the small town which is less than a hour away from
the well known Brussels. However there was great odds against these white beer
breweries, with the competition from the lager industry and both World Wars
causing theft from them. The last Hoegaarden brewery closed down in 1957.
However nine years later, a milkman by the name
of Pierre Celis, who was talking with his friends about how they missed the old
white beer. With this Pierre Celis who used to live next door to the brewery
decided it was time to bring back the style. With financial help from his father
and brewing help from a veteran brewer he started a small farmhouse brewer he
called, The Cloister (or more commonly known as De Kluis, in Flemish).
Hoegaarden's Father - Pierre Celis
The success of his revival of this great beer was
shown by the amount of production. It was just 350 hectolitres when it was
opened in 1966, it then rapidly grew to about 75,000 hectolitres by 1985. This
was a great achievement for the brewery, it was so successful that many other
breweries attempted to brew their own white beers. They never managed to even
rival the greatness of the original Hoegaarden though.
Once again disaster struck down on the white beer
industry. Most of the plant was destroyed by a fire in 1985. To rebuild the
plant Pierre Celis had to get extra investment, he found this with Interbrew,
the company which also owns Stella Artois. These brewery giants eventually took
over the Hoegaarden brewery in 1987.
Now Hoegaarden has a second brewhouse and
production in 1997 was recorded as 855,000 hectolitres. There is now regular
exports of the drink into Britain and it is rising in popularity greatly, with
more and more pubs taking up the drink to sell.
The legend Pierre Celis, the creator of this
amazing drink is still alive today. After selling to Interbrew he moved to
Texas, America where he continued his great skill of brewing by opening a new
brewery, the Celis Brewery, where he produced the beer, Celis white in his
brewery in Austin, Texas.