Pierre Celis singlehandedly revived the witbier after centuries of dormancy in 1965, when he began brewing it in his barn in the Belgian town of Hoegaarden. His recipe became the recipe for Hoegaarden White Ale and sold more than 300,000 barrels at its peak in 1985, when a fire engulfed its brewery and forced a cash-strapped Celis to sell to giant Belgian company Interbrew. That company is now known as Anheuser-Busch InBev and is the reason jelly-glass tumblers of Hoegaarden can be found in outdoor restaurant spaces and beer gardens across America. Even Hoegaarden wouldn't be the success it is today if Celis hadn't dusted himself off, moved to Texas and opened his own craft brewery just outside Austin in 1992. His Celis White was good enough to get Celis a buyout from Miller in 2000 and introduce witbier to a generation of craft brewers. Celis died in April, but his legacy is in every hazy, spicy sip a beer lover takes of a white beer this summer.
Today's brewers tend to think of the brewpub as an American craft cornerstone. Perhaps, but it took a Scottish import to make it so. American brewpubs and brewing taverns dated back to the Colonial era, but just about all were killed by Prohibition. When Scotsman Bert Grant came to Yakima, Wash., in 1992, he did so with the idea of brewing his beer on premises and serving it directly to drinkers with a little bit of nourishment to keep them around for more than one. That year, he opened Grant's Brewery Pub and gave birth to the nearly 1,100 brewpubs that exist across America today. What's often forgotten about Grant's little piece of beer history is that his brews including his Admiral Ale pale ale, Hopzilla IPA and his seasonal Fresh Hop Pale Ale were nothing short of extraordinary thanks to their proximity to hop country in the Yakima Valley. His IPA was somewhat less so and lacked the punch of its modern contemporaries, but that may have had something to do with his penchant for shading toward the other side of the pond. That only worked in his favor when making his Perfect Porter. Jet black with the flavor of heavily roasted malt and chocolate, it had just enough hops to keep its lingering sweetness at bay. At 4% alcohol by volume, it was also one of the first brewpub session beers at a time the term "session" hadn't quite made the trip over the Atlantic yet. Grant's brewpub closed in 2005 and some of his recipes had fallen off well before then, but at a time even hardened beer lovers are hard pressed to tell the difference between a porter and a stout, Perfect Porter was a great introduction to a still obscure style. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.