Historic Old Crown Ale canned for the first time in decades

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) Old Crown Ale.

It’s a familiar name with deep roots in the Summit City.

Those who lived in Fort Wayne decades ago, may even remember its popular taste.

The drink was first made and sold by Centlivre Brewing Company.

Pieces of Old Crown’s legacy, as well as the brewery’s founder, Charles Centlivre, remain scattered throughout Fort Wayne.

The statue of Centlivre that once sat high on top of his brewery, now decorates Don Hall’s Old Gas House downtown.

Inside you can find historic items like an illustration of his brewery. 

At Henry’s restaurant on Main St. sits an empty bottle of Old Crown on a shelf inside the dining room.

Perhaps the beer’s biggest fan, Doug Farmer has worked for years not only to acquire the rights to the beer name itself, but also find someone locally to brew it.

He has been collector for over 25 years.

“Like every other kid in my neighborhood, I collected beer cans,” Farmer told us, “And I kind of never got rid of my collection.”

Though broad back then, his collection started to focus on local items after Farmer met his wife.

“When I got married, it came out of my parents’ basement, much to my wife’s chagrin. And she kind of went, ‘you know,'” Farmer explained, “‘you can have a hobby. I’m all for that. But you kind of need to, can you kind of narrow it down a little, maybe only collect Indiana stuff?’ And I said, ‘I’ll do better than that. I’ll collect only Fort Wayne stuff.'”

With the help of his brother-in-law, a lawyer, Farmer was able to secure the rights to the historic ale.

“He said, ‘Is there any old labels from Fort Wayne you think would be cool to resurrect?'” Farmer told us, “Well, I said, ‘yeah, Old Crown would be.'”

That’s where Will Long comes in.

“It’s sort of been part of his [Doug Farmer] dream to have a local brewery bring that beer back,” Long said.

He co-owns Summit City Brewerks.

The brewery took on the challenge of recreating what once was Indiana’s number one selling ale.

They now showcase a bright, neon Old Crown sign mounted as the centerpiece in their restaurant.

The piece, a duplicate, was donated by Farmer.

After about a year of trying to nail down the perfect recipe, Long and Farmer were happy with their brew.

The ale quickly earned a permanent spot on tap, becoming Summit City Brewerks’ number one seller.

This summer the brewery chose to start canning their very first beer for resale.

No tough decision for the brewery’s owners.

They chose Old Crown.

Now Long holds on to hope that it could once again return to its former glory.

“We’re going to do our best to sort of live up to the brand and the history its got behind it.”

Long worked with Farmer’s impressive collection to also design the can’s nostalgic look.

Though they quickly sell out of their canned inventory, Long tells us Old Crown is always available on tap at Summit City Brewerks, and they continue to work to re-stock the ale again soon.

Farmer loves to share his collecting passion with others, and currently serves as the secretary within the  3 Rivers Fort Wayne chapter of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America.

For more information on local historic beers or interest in collecting, visit www.fortwaynebeer.com.

Daniel Beals

Daniel Beals

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