The village of Hoegaarden had been known for its witbieren (white beers) since the Middle Ages. In the nineteenth century, the village had thirteen breweries and 9 distilleries; however, around 1955, the last local witbier brewery, Tomsin, closed its doors. Pierre Celis, a milkman, decided some ten years later to try to revive the style. He began the new brewery in his hay loft.
Celis used the traditional ingredients of water, yeast, wheat, hops, coriander and dried Curaçao orange peel known as Laraha. With demand for the product continuing to grow, Celis bought, in the 1980s, Hougardia, a former distillery to expand his brewing operations. After a fire in 1985, as is traditional in Belgium, several brewers offered their help. One of these was the largest brewer in the country, called Interbrew (after a merger with AmBev, renamed InBev).