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Daily Texan: What's Your Pleasure? Celis, Shiner slug it out for Austin beer supremacy

Andre Coe Daily Texan Staff

07/07/1998 - Another controversy is brewing in the City of Austin as two local beer makers are butting heads to tap the party market in the Live Music Capital of the World.

MATTHEW HEMPEL Daily Texan Staff Hole in the Wall daytime manager and bartender supreme Brooks Brannon illustrates Austin beer drinkers' Shiner-Celis dilemma.

Celis Brewery, located in Austin, has unveiled its new marketing campaign to become Austin's official beer. "When people think of Austin, we want them to think of the Celis Brewery," said Christine Celis, the brewery's president. Celis officials said micro and regional breweries have always achieved their greatest popularity in their own hometown, so the company plans to focus its campaign efforts on Austin residents. They have also gone to local bars and restaurants to encourage bartenders and beer-drinkers to add a slice of orange or a splash of orange juice to their Celis White as a part of its new "Orange and White" campaign. However, most bar owners and beer drinkers, including UT Orangebloods, seem to have already unofficially declared Shiner Bock the official beer of Austin. "Shiner is the number one seller. It beats every [other beer] here ten to one," said Eddie Mack, the manager at Texas Showdown, located at 2610 Guadalupe Street. "You don't want to ask me about Celis -- I like it; it just doesn't sell." Many frequenters of Texas Showdown, including Tom "Sarge" Painter, a UT alumnus, affirm Shiner's status as top beer. With so many beers and so little time, most local bar owners and beer drinkers said Celis will have a hard time convincing Austin residents that it is the city's official beer. The only catch is that Celis is brewed here in the Austin city limits, while Shiner is an hour and a half southeast of Austin in a sleepy town that is the beer's namesake. In Shiner's defense, some bar owners weren't so sure that putting oranges in beer will become a trend. "Hell, oranges cost more than Celis White," said Brooks Brannon, a bartender at Hole in the Wall Arcade and Restaurant on the Drag. However, Brannon added that the owners of Celis are good people and they come into Hole in the Wall all the time. Some UT students are already backing Celis as their beer of choice. "I think that Celis is a good representation of Austin because Austin is a relatively young town," said finance junior Lorie Lutz. "I prefer Celis to Shiner, no question -- Women prefer fruitier drinks, and anytime you advertise something fruity, you're going to open the market to more females who generally don't prefer the dark beers." Kelly Jones, general manager at Copper Tank, located on Trinity St. between Fifth and Sixth streets, said the large number of fans of other popular beers could make becoming the official beer of Austin a "big leap" for the Celis Brewery. Christopher Joseph, known to his patrons as C. J., tends bar at Touche's at 417 E. 6th St. and said his top selling beers are Bud Light and Dos Equis, which average about 24 cases per week and 2.5 kegs per month, respectively. But, he added, Shiner Bock isn't too far back. "In comparison to my number one seller, I buy about 10 to 15 cases of Shiner for every 100 cases of beer," Joseph said. David Winkley, a senior at Southwest Texas State University and a bartender at Shakespeare's Pub, located at 314 E. 6th St., noted that only a few people notice the difference between a pale beer or a bock, and that most people aren't even aware of the many types of beer there are. "Most people know Coors or Bud," Winkley said. Winkley and several other bartenders agreed that whether or not Celis gains the elusive "Official Beer of Austin" title, the biggest seller in the area will continue to be Budweiser, or another well-known American beer that benefits from plenty of advertising.

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