Over the past 70 years, Carenbauer Distributing Corporation has experienced many changes: names, beers, locations, distribution, and the list goes on. However, one thing has remained the same – it has always stayed in the Carenbauer family, generation after generation.
In 1946, Edward Carenbauer’s uncle, Albert Eick, encouraged him to follow in his footsteps and take part in the beer business. Wishing to be back in Wheeling, he decided to take him up on the offer. Edward bought the franchise rights to distribute Matz beer, a local beer from Matz Brewery in Bellaire, OH. Edward Carenbauer opened Wheeling Matz Distributing Company located at 4409 Jacob Street in South Wheeling, distributed just one beer in Ohio County, and employed five people.
Matz Brewery soon went out of business in 1952, however, Edward kept his business alive, then named Carenbauer Distributing Corporation, by distributing numerous other beers. With a portfolio of Schlitz, Fort Pitt, Old German and other beers, Carenbauer moved his location to 2804 Wood Street.
With the decline of small breweries and introduction of mass breweries, Carenbauer followed the trend and bought the franchise rights to Strohs and Budweiser beer in 1961. (At that time, Budweiser was a non-factor in the beer industry.) Carenbauer’s business, then named Carenbauer-Kress, kept growing and moved to 1900 Jacob Street in East Wheeling (the current location), then employing 7 people. In 1971, Carl Carenbauer – the youngest of the Carenbauer children – decided to help his father and work for the company. At that time Carenbauer employed 15 people and distributed 3 brands, Bud, Busch, and Strohs, with Strohs being the top seller 10 to 1. Carl, now President of Carenbauer’s, experienced the decline of Strohs sales and the rise of Budweiser, as well as the expansion of both Anheuser-Busch’s and Carenbauer Wholesale Corporation’s portfolio.
Today, once again named Carenbauer Distributing Corporation employs 20 people and distributes 65 brands to Ohio and Marshall Counties. The operation has two warehouses with a combination of 40,000 square feet. Bud Light continues to be the top seller of the company since its introduction in 1982.
In 2003, Erin Carenbauer, daughter to Carl, moved back to Wheeling from Pittsburgh, PA and came on board as the Special Projects Coordinator. She marks the third generation to join the Carenbauer Distributing Corporation family and now serves as the company’s Vice President.