New Saint Arnold beer a nod to Austin’s old Celis Brewery

A Houston brewery has looked back to the very beginning of Texas’ craft brewing industry for inspiration while making the latest beer in its rotating limited release series, Icon.

Saint Arnold has styled the newest Icon Gold, a Belgian-style wit, after the beer that world-class brewer Pierre Celis brought from his Belgian homeland to Austin in the early 1990s, helping to spark the explosion of Texas-based breweries that continues today. The Icon Gold Belgian-Style Wit deliberately pays homage to Celis White, that first game-changing beer, according to a press release.

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The latest beer in Saint Arnold's Icon series is a Belgian-style witbier, paying homage to a beer from Austin's first craft brewery.

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The latest beer in Saint Arnold’s Icon series is a Belgian-style witbier, paying homage to a beer from Austin’s first craft brewery.

“Pierre Celis is one of the first people I visited when I decided to open a brewery,” Saint Arnold’s founder Brock Wagner said in the press release. “Saint Arnold Icon Gold is a tribute to Celis and his pioneering of craft brewing in Texas.”

Wagner and the Saint Arnold brewing staff kept their own witbier traditional to the ancient Belgian style, albeit with some tweaks. While the beer has “the familiar aromatics of coriander and orange peel to add spice and tantalize the nose… it has a strong malt backbone due to the addition of oats to the wheat and pilsner malt bill,” according to the press release.

And it’s not an easy beer to make, either, because of its subtlety.

“Getting the herbal, citrus and spicy notes from the coriander and orange peel dialed in took some time,” Saint Arnold brewer Stephen Rawlings said in the press release. “The result is a nice balance with no one piece standing out or overwhelming the others.”

Rawlings has also brewed up Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 13, Bishop’s Barrel No. 4 and Saint Arnold Boiler Room Berliner Weisse in his time at the Houston brewery.

The witbier style was largely forgotten in post-war Europe before Celis revived it. Before ever coming to Austin, he honed his craft at the Hoegaarden brewery in Belgium, making it a household name synonymous with good beer.

Look for Icon Gold on draft and in 12 oz. bottles this week in local bars and stores through October, when the next beer in the series, in the American Roggenbier style, will be released.


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