A Brief History of Brewing in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Hartman, Summit City. Stone, Bloomingdale,
French, Centlivre, Old Crown
Berhoff, Hoff-Brau, Falstaff, Mad Anthony, Warbird


Herman Hartman    

1853 - ~1870

The first commercial brewery in Ft. Wayne was founded in 1853 by Herman Hartman.

Herman C. Hartman was a fireman in the Alert Engine Co. until he opened a the first brewery in Fort Wayne at 128 E. Washington (between Lafayette and Clay) in 1853.

There are records of him at the fire department in 1856 and the brewery is listed in city directories in 1859 through 1869. He was born in 1822 and died in 1896.

The City Directory for Indiana, 1859, lists Adolph and August Hartman who work at Herman Hartman's brewery.

Summit City Brewery

Carl Phenning
1853 - ????

George Meier
???? - 1866

Summit City Brewery
1866 - at least 1874

The Phenning Brewery was erected in 1853 on the east side of town. by Carl Phenning.

George Meier ran the business after Phenning died. It may have gone out of business temporarily in 1860. It probably was located at 89 Harrison Street.

In 1866 the business was leased to John George Horning who soon bought it outright, expanded, and renamed it. He moved to a new building in 1874. Production reached 2,500 bbl per year.

By 1868 it was named the Summit City Brewery according to Chandler's Business Directory. The location given is 85, 87, 89 Harrison.

Stone Brewery and Malt House

Stone Brewery and Malt House

1855 - After 1873

Founded by Herman Nierman, and immigrant from Munster, Germany. The brewery was on the southwest corner of Water and Harrison Streets. Known as an "Ale and Lager Beer Brewery". Owned by brother Martin upon Herman's death in 1873. Martin was a brewer at Stone since at least 1859.

Herman Neirman's daughter, Frances, married Charles Centlivre

Bloomingdale Brewery

Bloomingdale Brewery

Francis J. Beck
1856 - before 1868

Beck & Stotz
before 1868 - 1869

U. Stotz & Co.
1869 - 1870

Certia and Rankert
1870 - before 1874

Eder, Certia & Co.
before 1874 - ~1877

Lutz & Company
~1877 - ~1880

In 1856, Francis J. Beck built a brewery on the feeder canal. The Business Directory for Indiana, 1868 lists the Bloomingdale Brewery owned by F. J. Beck and  Ulrich S. Stotz.

Williams' Fort Wayne Directory of 1964-1865 reveals Adolphus Kamm was a brewer at Bloomindale. He left in 1970 to buy into the C. Dick brewery in Mishawaka - later to become Kamm & Schellinger.

Beck probably died in 1869. Stotz sold the brewery business to Certia and Rankert in 1870.

The City Directory for Ft. Wayne, 1874 lists the Bloomingdale Brewery, Eder, Certia & Company, Proprietors. Brewers of First Class Lager Beer. On the Feeder Canal, west of Wells Street. Henry Eder and Peter Certia were the owners. Fred Fiegel and M. F. Halm were the brewers.

It was subsequently sold to Lutz & Company circa 1877 who operated it until at least 1880.

The property the brewery sat on remained with Beck's heirs.

Maximum capacity was around 4,000 bbls annually. Bloomingdale is the name of the region of Ft. Wayne just north of downtown. The brewery was on "west Wells St."

French / Centlivre / Old Crown

French Brewery

1862 - 1895

Founded in 1862 as the French Brewery by an immigrant from the Alsace region of France, Charles Centlivre and his brother Frank. Charles previously had a brewery in Louisville and in McGregor, Iowa.

In 1874 the French Brewery was located "between Feeder (canal) and St. Joe River, 1 mile north of city" on the east branch of Lima Plank Road.

"There are two great breweries here. The oldest is that of C. L. Centlivre, an enterprising Alsacian, and it is, perhaps, best known as the French brewery. The situation is a charming one on the bank of the St. Joseph river, a mile north of the city. The brewery bottling works and boat house were entirely destroyed by fire on the night of July 16, 18S9, and are to be rebuilt upon a magnificent scale. What, with the brewery, the handsome residences of C. L. Centlivre and his sons, the bottling works, and the fleet of pleasure boats on the river, over $300,000 will be represented." - Valley of the upper Maumee River - 1889

The original brewing facility on the west bank of the St. Joseph River was destroyed by fire on July 16, 1859 but was quickly rebuilt. A malting house was built in 1868 and a bottling building in 1876.

The French Brewery was torn down in March, 1884 and replaced by a new brewery plant that same summer. Renamed to Centlivre in 1895.

C. L. Centlivre Brewing Company

1895 - 1918
1933 - 1961

(photo courtesy
Bruce Mobley)

Charles Centlivre died in 1911. A statue of him was made (with his foot on a barrel) and it is now at the Hall's Gas House Restaurant on Superior St. in downtown Fort Wayne.

The brewery was located near what is now Spyrun and State Streets between the river and a feeder canal. 2501-2541 Spy Run Ave. It operated a horse-drawn railroad line which was sold to the city in 1894. It also built a public park near the brewery that had horse racing and boat rides.

"The case of Kaiser, Beck Co., of Bremen, Germany, against the Centlivre Brewing company was next called. The suit was to enjoin the local brewery from using the name "Kaiser" for a brand of beer. It was claimed by the German company that the name "Kaiser" is original with them and that the Centlivres have no right to use it. The matter was settled out of court and no damages were assessed." - The Fort Wayne Gazette, June 9, 1897

"Mr. Centlivre, proprietor of the French brewery, while he has a good business and is generally prosperous, feels that Fort Wayne people, especially all the business men, should be more liberal in their patronage, and especially more generous in their comments of a home industry which brings so much money to the town.

Mr. Centlivre pays, on an average, twelve hundred dollars per month to the government in the shape of taxes, and employs a large number of men, who must necessarily spend their money here. Mr. Centlivre makes a quality of beer equal to any of the brands imported from outside cities, and it would be a credit to the city for the people to call for it in preference to any other, in order to give encouragement to a worthy home enterprise. Mr. Centliver has been in business here for many years and has proven himself to be a good and very enterprising citizen.

We are not urging the consumption of beer, but so long as people will drink it they should use the article, which is made at home." - Fort Wayne Daily Gazette” August 10,1881.

"If You Want to be Well drink beer that is pure and healthful. Our Special Export Beer is absolutely pure, properly aged and fermented, and is made from the best materials money can buy. We spare neither care, cash nor brains in the brewing of this perfect beer, and the rich, inimitable flavor is the natural consequence. Drink Special Export-the beer that tells. C L Centlivre Brewing Co. Phone G2, Made in Ft. Wayne" Advertisement from 1905

"A gang of masked desperadoes, believed to be seven in number, about 1 o'clock this morning blew the safe in the office of the Centlivre brewery, after binding the night watch men, and made their escape with money belonging to the firm. The robbery was one of the most daring pieces of work in the police annals of Indiana.

The brewery is located far out on Spy Run avenue, but in a thickly populated district, and only a short distance away from the city lighting company's power plant, where men are employed all night long. The sound of the explosion was heard by a number of people in the vicinity but it was a muffled sort of report and no attention was paid to it.

The alarm was spread at 3 o'clock by George Keller, the watchman at the brewery, who cut the thongs that bound him to a chair in the rear of the plant crawled down through the boiler looms and running along the river bank, made his way to the home of Prank Bogash, on the Centlivre stock farm. From the Bogash home the news was telephoned to the residence of Mr. Charles Centlivre across the street from the brewery, and to the police and sheriff.

(Police) were quickly on the scene, but every door leading to the wrecked office was found securely and entrance was finally gained through a window which was found unlocked. With the arrival of the police it was learned that Watchman Keller was at the Bagash house, but Oscar Kiefer, the night watchman at the company's barn, who was to have been about the plant, could not be found. Later he was located along the river bank whither he had crawled, after having broken loose from a chair in the lavatory of the office where he had been tied.

Kiefer's Thrilling Story

Kiefer, the barn-man, stated that he was walking, about I o'clock, past the office toward the brewer, and when he had about reached the end of the building, three men grabbed him and with pistols leveled at his head, shouted: "Keep still, you------, or we'll blow your head off." - Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, May 30, 1905

"Almost any kind of Beer will satisfy some people but in the home none but the purest should be used. In our brewery cost of manufacture is a secondary consideration. First, last and all the time our constant endeavor is to produce a beer that will be second to none in the world. In Bottled Form is the Ideal Beer for Home Use. None but the best selected malt and hops enter into its manufacture. After brewing it is kept in storage for months to give it necessary age. Why not always keep a few bottles all ready for use in your Ice Box? Centivre Brewlng Co PINTS AND QUARTS Phone 62" - The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Sun, Sept 20, 1908

In 1911 Centlivre was reported to have six tax-determination tanks of 62 gallons each.

Just before prohibition they made 30,000 bbls annually.

Became the Centlivre Ice and Cold Production Storage Company during prohibition. Made a near beer named "That's It" for 2 years.

Introduced the Old Crown Ale brand in 1939 and the Alps Brau name in 1957. Other brands included Bohemia, Muenchener Export, Special Export, Old Reliable, Old German and Centlivre.

A major $1.5 expansion was made in 1950. which brought capacity up to 250,000 bbls.

more info

Old Crown Brewing Corporation

1961 - 1973

Centlivre merged with Chris-Craft in 1961 and was renamed Old Crown. Capacity at that time was 125,000 bbls. Motto: Lazy Aged. Marjorie Aubrey was General Manager. The new company was soon sold to its employees.

Closed on December 1st, 1973 after making 250,000 bbls in previous years.

Old Crown's brands included Nickel Plate, Old Crown, and Van Merritt.


East End Bottling Works
before 1882 - 1887

Hermann Berghoff Brewing Company
1887 - 1889

Berghoff Brewing Company
1889 - 1910

Berghoff Brewing Association
1910 - 1918

Bergoff Products Mfg. Co.
1918 - 1933

Berghoff Brewing Corp.
1933 - 1954

(photo courtesy
Bruce Mobley)

Founded and owned by the Berghoff family's four brothers, Herman, Henry, Hubert, and Gustav, immigrants from Dortmunder, Prussia.

In 1882 Herman and Henry bought the East End Bottling Works. They started a brewing operation with a new building started when the Herman Berghoff Brewing Company was incorporated in 1887.

This original brewing building was destroyed by fire just as it opened in August, 1888. It was immediately rebuilt. Headquarters was at 1025 Grant St.

"The Berghoff Brewery Will Have a $100,000 Addition

Herman Berghoff, after whom the immense brewing plant is named, left for Chicago this afternoon to accept the plans of a prominent architect there for an addition of 50x170 feet to the Berghoff Brewery. The new addition will be used for beer vault. An ice machine additional to the one already in operation at the brewery will be purchased to supply the new storage house. The work is to to completed by March 1, 1891." - Fort Wayne Sentinel, Aug 13, 1890.

Berghoff beer was sold at the Chicago World Fair in 1892. In 1898 Herman moved to Chicago and opened the Berghoff Restaurant at State and Adams Streets in the loop which was open until 2005. (It reopened in 2009).

Henry was elected mayor of Fort Wayne in 1902.

In 1903 they increased their capital stock with a $250,000 issue. Capacity at this time was about 40,000 bbls.

In 1910 Hubert retired, Gustav became president and it was re-christened the Berghoff Brewing Association.

In 1911 Berghoff was reported to have "two tanks containing 315 gallons each and four containing 100 each".

In 1913, M.C. Norton of the T.M. Norton brewery in Anderson became the manager of Berghoff and was made secretary of the company when Stephen B. Fleming became the manager in 1915. Their telephone number was 105.

Brewers around this time include Doehla Christian, Charles Held, Fred Hutt, Fred Kiel, Pete Marcher, Alois Maurer, Fred Roth, and William Seisling.

In 1917 the plant's capacity was over 180,000 barrels. It was the largest shipper on the Nickel Plate Railroad.

At the start of WWI, the company slogan changed from "A Real German Brew" to "A Real Honest Brew".

Made Bergo soft drink and Berghoff Malt Tonic during prohibition.

The company was reorganized after prohibition with non-family members for the first time. Gustavis' sons left to start the Hoff Brau Brewing Company in 1934 (below).

Sold to Falstaff (below) on April 12, 1954. At this time the Berghoff Brewery had a capacity of over one half million bbls per year.

Brands were Berghoff. International Club.

Motto used at the end of prohibition: The beer that made itself famous.

The Berghoff restaurant in Chicago, from 1960 to 2005, had Berghoff Beer brewed for it by the Joseph Huber Brewing Company of Monroe, WI. The name was sold to Walter Brewing in Pueblo, CO and then to Huber and they went "regional" with Berghoff Original, Dark, Red, and Oktoberfest in 1994. There is now a wide line including a Hefe-Weizen, Pale Ale, Genuine Dark, Famous Bock, Classic Pilsner, and Premium.


Berghoff Bros. Brewery, Inc.
1934 - 1934

Hoff-Brau Brewing Company
1934 - 1951

(photos courtesy Bruce Mobley)

Founded by Gustavis Berghoff's sons immediately after prohibition. The brewery building was a block away from the Berghoff brewery (above). In fact it was originally named Berghoff Brothers Brewery, Inc. but that was changed almost immediately. By this time the Berghoff family was no longer the owners of the original Berghoff brewery.

In 1940 Hoff-Brau signed a contract with the Indiana State Fair to be the exclusive beer provider.


We will pay highest cash prices for prime quality Malt, and Hops. HOFF-BRAU Beer and Ale are made of the best materials obtainable, and sure taste better too.

TRY A BOTTLE the next time you ask for beer, and note the extra fine flavor and body in every bottle of ALE, BEER or STOUT made by the HOFF-BRAU Brewing Corporation of FORT WAYNE, INDIANA"
- Ad in the Valparaiso Vidette-Messenger, July 5, 1940

John A Berghoff was the president of the corportation by 1949 and had been the president of the National Brewers' Association.

The brewery was at 800 Glasgow Ave. and made a 3.2% beer.

Motto: The beer without a headache.

A 1934 booklet advised parents that "Growing children need a small glass with every meal".


Falstaff Brewing Company
1954 - 1975

1975 - 1990

(photo courtesy
Bruce Mobley)

Adam Lemp reputedly made the first lager beer in the western hemisphere behind his St. Louis grocery in 1838. He grew and renamed the beer Falstaff in the 1840s. The operation went bankrupt in 1920 due to prohibition. Bought by Joseph Griesedieck, the Falstaff brand was on near beer, soft drinks, and cured hams. Falstaff is said to be the first to legally brew beer after prohibition.

Fort Wayne operations started on April 12, 1954 when Falstaff bought the Berghoff Brewing Company (above). The corporation also brewed in St. Louis, New Orleans, Galveston, El Paso, Omaha, San Jose, San Antonio, Cranston RI, and San Francisco.

Brands made in Fort Wayne include Ballantine, Falstaff, Haffenreffer, and Narragansett (which Falstaff bought in 1965).

Haffenreffer & Co. was formed in 1870 and moved from Boston in 1964 to Narragansett, RI. The 16 buildings of the brewery were abandoned until 1983 when they became an industrial park. This became the home of the Boston Beer Company in 1985.

The Falstaff acquisition of Narragansett resulted in an anti-trust suit that ended up before the Supreme Court - U. S. v. Falstaff Brewing Corp. (1973).

The Falstaff Corporation was bought by Paul Kalmanovitz's S&P brewing conglomerate (General Brewing) in 1975. At that time it made 1.2 million bbls annually at the Fort Wayne plant. They moved the headquarters to Fort Wayne in 1977.

S&P moved Ballantine from Newark, NJ, and the Narragansett brands from Cranston, Rhode Island to Fort Wayne in 1979 and 1982, respectively. All of S&P's operations were in Fort Wayne by 1985.

S&P eliminated the advertising budget to maximize profits before closing on January 7th, 1990. Production of Falstaff went to San Antonio, TX, Ballantine to Milwaukee. The equipment in Fort Wayne went to China's Pabst facility in 1993. The property at 1025 Grant Ave. was sold by the city in 2001.

S&P's holdings were bought by G. Heileman and Falstaff is now part of the Pabst family, brewed under contract by City Brewery in La Cross, WI.

In the 1990s, Labatt's tried to purchase the Ft. Wayne brewery but the deal never happened.

Specialty labels included M*A*S*H 4077, Polska Piwo, and Beer - yep, generic white and black label - "Ask for it by name". They also made Haffenreffer Malt Liquor and Feigenspan beers.

Sales of Falstaff slid dramatically starting in the 1970s. By 1976 the Fort Wayne brewery was operating at 60% capacity; putting out an estimated 900,000bbl. As Falstaff moved production as it closed its other purchased breweries (San Francisco, San Antonio, New Orleans, El Paso, San Jose, Galveston, Newark, Omaha, and Cranston RI) as well as the home brewery in St. Louis, the Fort Wayne brewery went back to full capacity by 1982 when it made many of the products in the Falstaff library.

It's said Walgreens sold Old Heidel Brau Lager in cans brewed by Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Ft. Wayne. This was yet another name used by the conglomerate.

They brewed Pulaski Piwo for a marketing company in Bay City, Michigan. The top of the cans say "Brewed and canned by Great Lakes Brewing Company, Fort Wayne IN".

By 2001, the sales of Falstaff had dropped to only 20,000bbl. By 2004 this is down to 1500bbl. The Falstaff name stopped being used by Pabst on April, 15, 2005.

Falstaff info

P. Ballantine & Sons info


Star Brewery

Late 1850s - ~1875

The City Directory for Ft. Wayne, 1869, lists the Star Brewery - Martin Schmidt, Proprietor. Northwest corner of Wayne and Monroe.

The City Directory of 1871 lists Linker, Hay & Co. (V. Linker, A. A. Hay & Anthony Dreyer) Proprietors Star Brewery. August Schmidt and Frederick Geisel were brewers.

The Register of United States Breweries 1876-1976 lists Linker, Hey & Co. - capacity of 2,000 bbls. Charles Bilser, Anton Dreier, and Peter Spielmann, brewers. Located at the corner of Monroe and Wayne.

The City Directory for Indiana, 1859, lists as breweries:
  • Albachten & Rolver
  • Jocob Hock (Located in the Bloomingdale section of the city but not the Bloomingdale Brewery)
The Register of United States Breweries 1876-1976 lists some breweries that closed near 1875:
  • Henry Hubach Brewery - capacity of 1,630 bbls
  • F. Kley & Sons - Fred Kley - production 115 bbls. Also a cooperage. 232 W. Main.
  • Eagle Brewery - John M. Reidmiller, proprietor - production of 145 bbls. Located on the south side of Taylor, west of Broadway. Probably near the present day intersecion of Reidmiller Ave. and Eagle St.
L. Brames & Co.

before 1890 - around 1897

We've seen a picture of a pre-prohibition bottle from this brewery. It was on East Jefferson Street. It might have been a bottling company associated with the Kuebeler-Stang Brewing Company of Sandusky, Ohio.
The Fort Wayne News of Oct 26, 1894 reported William Braeuer, head brewer at Berghoff resigned to start a "brewery, either in Fort Wayne or elsewhere in a few months". No word on whether that actually happened.
In 1911 there were two "fruit distilleries" in Allen County - one in Allen and one in Grabill.
The Fort Wayne City and Allen County Directory of 1916 lists:
  • Buckeye Brewing Co, Fairfield Ave. and Wabash R R.

It also states "The Brewery Workers' Union, No. 62. meets the 2nd Sunday in Strodel's Hall."

Modern Era

Fort Wayne Brewing Company

1993 - around 1995

This was a beer marketing company. The beer was made by the Indianapolis Brewing Company and later by the Frankenmuth brewery in Michgan. Jim McIntyre was the founder and president. He was formerly a programmer at Tokheim Corp.

The signature O'Malley's Lost Irish Ale was developed by Mark Melchi, formerly a brewmaster at Falstaff.

The first beer was sold in Fort Wayne on St. Patrick's day, 1993.

Mad Anthony Brewing Company

1998 - Present

Brewpub. Bought the Muncie Emporium restaurant at 2002 Broadway and added a brewhouse. Expanded to brew in a separate building and to sell bottled beer.

Opened a "tied" restaurant in Auburn, IN in 2003 and a second in Warsaw, IN in 2006. A third satellite restaurant opened in Elkhart in 2008, this one being franchised by another party.

Founders were Todd Grantham, Jeff Neels, and Blaine Stuckey.

Oyster Bar Brewery

2000 - 2003

Brewpub. Located on DuPont Rd north of Fort Wayne. When the Oyster Bar ended brewing operations, brewer Matt Hill went to the Upland Brewing Company in Bloomington and then to Warbird Brewery back in Fort Wayne.

The Oyster Bar continues to the present as a restaurant and pub.

Warbird Brewing Co.

2004 - Present

Microbrewery. Owner: Dave Holmes. Original brewer: Matt Hill. When opened, one of the few microbreweries in the United States to produce beer in cans. Went back to bottles shortly thereafter. Located at 10515 Majic Port Lane on Indiana 1 at Ferguson Rd on the south side of Fort Wayne.

Granite City Food and Brewery

2008 - Present

Brewpub. One of a chain based in Minnesota. Manager/Brewer: Matthew Burrous.

Copyright 2004, 2006, 2009, Bob Ostrander