If you’re a beer drinker, you have a little celebrating to do this Saturday. April 6 is officially New Beer’s Eve, the annual celebration of the beginning of the end of Prohibition. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of Prohibition, the 14 years in United States history where most alcoholic beverages were illegal.
I find the stories of how the various alcoholic beverage industries recovered after Prohibition very interesting. I found George Taber’s account in “A Toast to Bargain Wines” of California wine country’s early years after Prohibition to be very interesting. CNN has an equally interesting piece about beer and the hours after the repeal of Prohibition.
According to these accounts, the repeal of Prohibition was one of newly inaugurated Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s ways to put some money back into the economy during the Great Depression.
FDR’s first campaign promise was to pass the Cullen-Harrison Act. The act allowed for an increase of the amount of alcohol a beverage could have, from 0.5 percent to 3.2 percent by weight. Beer drinkers switched from “near beer” to weak beer at 12:01 a.m. on April 7, 1933, when breweries sent out trucks full of cases and barrels of beer. Within 24 hours, more than 1.5 million barrels of beer had been distributed – and several of those barrels went straight to the White House and the Capitol building.
It’s estimated that $25 million was put into the economy in the first 48 after the 3.2 beer was legally available, and $7.5 million of that was collected in taxes.
The Cullen-Harrison Act was a pre-curser to the actual repeal of Prohibition. On Dec. 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified and full-strength beer and other alcoholic beverages were legal once again.
So this Saturday, whether you’re purposely celebrating New Beer’s Day or just enjoying a cold one after doing some yard work, give a little toast to the Cullen-Harrison Act, FDR, and the millions of beer lovers who in 1933 helped to get our economy back on track by drinking some really weak beer.
Celebrate with your favorite craft brew from a local, sustainable brewery or try one of these 5 organic beers, which my fellow blogger Kimi Harris recommends.
Related on MNN:
- Colorado Native Lager is all local with homegrown hops, barley and yeast
- 5 ideas for eco-friendly beer consumption
- Best beer for eco-friendly drinkers