Ft. Wayne’s Centlivre Brewery had already been brewing great beer for 95 years by the time 1957 rolled around. To celebrate the brewery’s 95th anniversary, Centlivre rolled out Alps Brau and it quickly became a best seller! The brand was supported by a radio campaign and lots of fanfare. Alps Brau advertising featured slogans such as “Cool, Crisp, Clear”, “Brewed from Mountain Valley Hops”, “bavarian style premium BEER”, and “So very, very Bavarian!” The brand played heavily on the Bavarian Alps theme, and the drinking public responded. Alps Brau radio commercials were sung by popular local musicians Nancy Lee & the Hilltoppers and featured the line, “Very Bavarian, Very Bavarian, Very Bavarian Beer”.
Unfortunately, Centlivre Brewing would never see its 100th anniversary under family ownership. Facing stiff competition from large national breweries, the 50’s & 60’s were a time of great consolidation in the beer industry, and some breweries like Centlivre tried to diversify their business into other industries. In the case of Centlivre, they took on investors from the East Coast that got them into things like refining and chemicals. Unfortunately, the Recession of 1960-1961 took its toll on finances. In order to avoid a hostile takeover by investors, the Centlivre and Reuss (related by marriage) families briefly merged the company into Chris-Craft Industries who then sold the brewery to the employees in 1962 and renamed it Old Crown Brewing Company (Old Crown was the brewery’s most popular brand at the time).
The brewery, now under employee ownership, soldiered on through the 1960’s picking up additional regional brands as those breweries closed due to mounting pressure from national brands with large advertising budgets. While the brewery would have been considered large by today’s craft standards, producing well over 100,000 barrels per year, it was not enough to compete long-term with the onslaught of marketing from the likes of Schlitz, Budweiser, Stroh’s, and Pabst. Old Crown Brewery closed down on December 1st, 1973. The brewery’s brands, including Alps Brau, were sold to Peter Hand Brewery out of Chicago. Peter Hand continued brewing Alps Brau until 1978, when they too went out of business forever ending production of Alps Brau.
Not so fast my friend!
In 2021, Lawrence, IN entrepreneurs Brad & Sheila Klopfenstein acquired the Alps Brau trademark and went on a quest to bring the brand back after more than 40 years of hibernation. That quest lead them to meet with over two dozen breweries from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania. After an exhaustive search, the couple formed Alps Brau Brewing LLC and entered into an agreement with 2Toms Brewing out of Ft. Wayne to once again produce, market, and distribute Alps Brau throughout Indiana. Alps Brau relaunched in February of 2023 with radio & television appearances, and recreated much of the fanfare that surrounded the original launch in 1957. Even members of the Centlivre family were on hand to celebrate the relaunch of a part of their family history.
While the 2nd chapter of Alps Brau is still being written, we want to thank you for your interest in the brand, the people who created it, and the people who are its caretakers at the moment. Beer is much more than water, hops, yeast, and malt. Beer is about the people who brew it, and the people who enjoy it. So grab a cold 6-pack, share some with your friends, and say a little toast to enjoying the moment with good beer and good friends.
Do you have old Alps Brau cans, and want to know how old they are? There are 3 different styles of old Alps Brau cans, depending on who was brewing it at the moment. Centlivre cans are gold with pale blue printing (1957-1961). Old Crown cans are silver with the same pale blue printing (1962-1973). Peter Hand cans are silver with shimmery blue printing (1973-1978). Modern cans are wrapped with a sticker label (2023-).