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Miller buys majority interest in Celis Brewery.

Pierre Celis says that his Celis Brewery has formed a "strategic alliance" with a subsidiary of the Miller Brewing Company.

Celis, a noted European brewer and founder of the Celis Brewery in Austin, TX, said that Celis would remain an independent company with full control of its own brewing activities. However, the Miller subsidiary, an entity called the American Specialty/Craft Beer Company, will hold a majority interest in Celis.

The Miller deal with Celis had been rumored since early fall, although both parties had refused to confirm it as late as three weeks ago.

Miller's choice of Celis as a partner would indicate that the Milwaukee-based brewer is serious about producing world-class specialty beers. The Celis Brewery has long been a darling of beer enthusiasts here and abroad, with its beers consistently receiving plaudits from some of the most discerning beer critics. As a result, Miller Brewing Co.'s collaboration will receive intense scrutiny from beer enthusiasts.

Miller, more than most, knows better than to meddle with success. An earlier generation of Miller management tuned Lowenbrau from a top U.S. import into a domestic non-entity. The current managers are unlikely to let that kind of thing happen again.

Celis is an interesting choice for a Miller partner, however, since the Celis beers are on the esoteric side, especially for mainstream consumers. The brewery flagship is Celis White, a wheat beer that won a gold medal at the 1994 Great American Beer Festival.

Other brands include Celis Pale Bock, Celis Golden, Celis Grand Cru and Celis Raspberry.

In his initial statement, Pierre Celis waxed optimistic about the deal.

"This alliance will allow us to focus on what we do best, which is to brew specialty beers," Celis said. "Our partner brings to our relationship the resources, experience and business systems that will help us meet the growing demand for our unique beers."

Scott Barnum, general manager of Miller's Specialty Beers said, "Our new relationship with Celis is attractive on a number of levels. While this state-of-the-art brewery has a proven track record for brewing some of the most unique and refreshing brands right here in the important texas beer market, one of the most exciting parts of the relationship is Pierre Celis himself. Pierre's impressive brewing credentials are matched only by his unwavering commitment to quality. We look forward to working with Pierre and helping more American beer drinkers discover the Celis legacy."
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Title Annotation:Miller Brewing Co.; Celis Brewery Inc.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Mar 6, 1995
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