Centlivre Beer Can Found
Earlier this summer a Fort Wayne breweriania collector struck gold while digging along the shore line of Hamilton Lake. In preparations of pouring a new sea wall he uncovered, burred in the mud for the last 77 years, a loan Centlivre Beer can, considered to be the “HOLY GRAIL” to all Indiana collectors. This can is so rare that even in the rough condition it was found in, it has a value of several hundred dollars. A can in excellent condition can fetch several thousand dollars, and collectors will pay upwards of $5000+ for a mint one. Somewhere here in Fort Wayne, someone has a gold mine in their attic or under the front porch, just waiting to be found. It was not uncommon for carpenters to leave behind their empty beer cans in the walls and ceilings during home construction or later renovations. That new bathroom addition, added in the late 30s, may have a 6-pack of Centlivre Beer built in the walls; you do the math on the dollar value.
So why are Centlivre beer cans so valuable? ”supply and demand”
After surviving Prohibition, the Centlivre Brewing Company was quick to fire up the bottling line producing their flagship “Centlivre Pale Dry Beer”. Sometime in 1936 a salesman for the American Can Co. came by the brewery promoting the benefits of his company’s new “Keglined” 12oz. beer cans. These cans had an inside coating that prevented them from tinting the flavor of the beer. Keglined cans were also more compact then bottles, lightweight, less expensive, and didn’t let in harmful light. Much to the pleasure of beer can collectors, Centlivre invested into this new idea, and started canning beer in 1937, becoming the first in northern Indiana to do so. The earliest known Centlivre beer can was made in Chicago, by the American Can Co., and has a 1937 date code. There is also reference to the "75 year anniversary" on the can's side panel.
Sales were slow at first for these new-fangled cans. Everyone had a bottle opener at home but no one had a can opener. Centlivre gave away openers and printed opening instructions on the side panel of the can, but sales were still very slow. Old Crown would be added to the brewery's lineup in 1939 ending the short run on the Centlivre Beer can. Now anyone can brew beer, but only Mother Nature can create rust, and along with low production quantities, this can is rarely found today.
Read more about the Centlivre Brewery HERE
By Jeff Johnson