December 5th is Repeal Day. If ever there was a day to crack open a beer, today would be it. 83 years ago, you’d be in trouble.
There are plenty of sites and books out there that tell you the story of Prohibition (AKA the Dark Times) but seeing as 5 pm is just a few hours away here’s a run down so you can look like a badass genius at the bar:
- Prohibition lasted 13 years. 13 LONG YEARS
- 1830’s: Rise of the Temperance movement (Push for no alcohol)
- 1855 – 13 states have banned alcohol
- 1869 – National Prohibition Party is formed (A political party, like Republican or Democrat)
- 1890 – First Prohibition Party Member Elected To The House
- 1893 – Anti Saloon League Formed. An anti alcohol superpower. Bigger than Women’s Temperance or the Prohibition Party. Lobbied all levels of gov’t against beer, wine, spirits. (Those are the folks you’d call buzzkills)
- 1917 – Volstead Act aka The National Prohibition Act. Cleared the way for the 18th Amendment.
- January 20, 1920 – the official start of Prohibition
- 1,520 Federal Prohibition agents were tasked with enforcement
The Volstead Act states:
“An Act to prohibit intoxicating beverages, and to regulate the manufacture, production, use, and sale of high-proof spirits for other than beverage purposes, and to ensure an ample supply of alcohol and promote its use in scientific research and in the development of fuel, dye, and other lawful industries.”
The act did everything but specifically prohibit the USE of intoxicating liquors. In this case – HIGHER than .5% ABV. Liquor production fell into the hands of gangs and criminal organizations – the likes of people like Al Capone. What did the groups think alcohol in the hands of the citizens of the United States would do?
“The emphasis on alcoholic drink stemmed not so much from a moral opposition to liquor as from a pragmatic one. Alcohol abuse, said the Prohibitionists, led to chronic illness, job loss, spouse and child abuse, and impoverishment. The best way to reduce social ills, they maintained, was to eliminate alcoholic consumption.”
- 1919 – Volstead Act passes. No more alcohol. (Goodbye beer)
Near beer – aka non alcoholic beer could be made during prohibition: Pablo by Pabst, Famo by Schlitz, Vivo by Miller, Yuengling Special or “Por Tor” from Yuengling, Lux-O by Stroh and Bevo by Anheuser-Busch.
in 1932, things started looking beer-favorable, thanks to Franklin D. Roosevelt. America was mired deep in the Great Depression by 1932. Creating jobs and revenue by legalizing the liquor industry had a massive appeal. (So did heavy drinking.) FDR called for the end of Prohibition in platform. Millions of dollars could be made taxing the sale of legally brewed beer. The desire for Prohibition started to crumble.
- March 22, 1933 FDR signs Cullen-Harrison Act. Some alcohol legal.
- April 6th has become known as “New Beers Eve” 1,000s lineup outside pubs waiting for a legal beer
- April 7th, Cullen-Harrison Act 4% beer re-legalized. Within 24 hours, 1.5 million barrels of 3.2% beer were sold.
- April 6th has become known as “New Beers Eve”
- Upon signing the legislation, Roosevelt made his famous remark, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”
- December 5, 1933 – Prohibition officially repealed
Both Yuengling and Anheuser-Busch sent cases of beer to the White House in celebration.
The beer industry suffered tremendously after prohibition. There were over 1,300 breweries in the US before Prohibition, however the vast majority were killed off a few years into the ban. Beer sales didn’t rebound to pre-prohibition sales until the mid-1970’s.
Things are looking up though. As of November 30th, 2016 there are 5,005 breweries operating in the United States. We think that deserves a beer.