Nov 14, 2023 - News

Indy couple brews history with Indiana beer brands

Stickers on a table

Nickel Plate Beer was made in partnership with its namesake railroad. Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

Remember the early days of COVID, when the world closed shop and everyone picked up a hobby like bread making or reality TV binging?

Well, for Brad and Sheila Klopfenstein, that hobby was buying the rights to the expired trademarks of defunct Indiana beer brands in an effort to bring them back to life.

  • "I emerged from the computer one afternoon and I'm like, 'Hey Sheila, we now own a beer brand,'" Brad Klopfenstein said.

Brewing the news: Alps Brau, a Bavarian-style lager, is back on store shelves for the first time in nearly five decades.

  • The Klopfensteins partnered with Fort Wayne-based 2Toms Brewing Co. to revive the once-popular beer, now available in cans at the brewery's two tap rooms and central Indiana Total Wine stores.

Yes, but: The original recipe for Alps Brau was lost to history. The Indianapolis-based couple worked with 2Toms to create something in the same style.

💭 My thought bubble: Malty and a little sweet, the pale lager is brewed with Czech Saaz and Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops, giving it definite Oktoberfest vibes.

  • It's easy-drinking and more interesting than some similar-style lagers.

Flashback: Alps Brau was released in 1957 to celebrate the 95th anniversary of Centlivre Brewing.

  • Founded in Fort Wayne by a French immigrant named Charles Centlivre in the mid-1800s, the company survived Prohibition but not the competition and consolidation that reshaped the American beer industry a century later.
  • In 1962, the Centlivre family sold the company to employees who kept it going for another decade.
  • When it closed in 1973, its brands were sold to the Peter Hand Brewery, which closed five years later.

What's next: The Klopfensteins bought the trademarks for several other beer brands, including Nickel Plate Beer — another Centlivre brand — plus Indianapolis Brewing Company and one of their beers, Circle City Beer.

  • They've sold one brand to a craft brewer who has plans to revive it.
  • They're in talks with brewers to bring back the other two, as well.

What they're saying: "I think we're the only people that are committed to buying historical Indiana brands and brewing them in Indiana," Sheila Klopfenstein said.


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