When Pierre Celis decided to start brewing beer, he was already 40-years-old and disgruntled with the decline in Belgian brewing. After selling his hugely-famous Hoegaarden recipe, Celis dispatched his daughter and son-in-law to oversee the brewing of Celis White (as well as Pale Rider) in Texas. And maybe due to the fact that the french ale-masters aren't famous for surviving long in Texas; wedged between a plethora of german lager brewers, the recipes were absorbed by Miller in 1999.
Celis must be steam-powered, like his brewery, because even when pushing 82-years-old, he's still at it and the hard-packed ground of beer ingenuity splits like the Red Sea at his feet. Proof? Grotten Brown.
Like an over-active child, it explodes on the tongue with a giddy effervescence. It moves throughout the mouth popping it's at-first hidden esters like delicious little bombs. What looks like a standard belgian-style brown ale soon reveals itself as a juggernaut of excitement; a testament to the imagination and re-invention of older styles and exhuberance for brewing. Once cave-aged for maturation, Grotten reveals the opposite of most ideals on cellaring. It hauls itself up and screams gently that it will not go down without first challenging the mouth to a wonderful fight. And the hyperactive child then becomes a fiery adult with complete understanding of it's role in the world.
When poured properly into a Grotten glass; a wide, gaping chalice, the beer forms a ruddy off-white head that sinkholes and leaves a landscape of meringue. Each time I finish a session with Grotten, I'm wary of the feeling that I want more. I know that one is worth experiencing, but two would be an experiment in futility. Which is why I typically move on to Celis' Grotten Felmish Ale...which is exactly what you should do. Try them both in a session! Try the Brown and let it work you over gently. But make sure you give them both a chance before they're gone!