Modern U.S. craft beer history began in the 1960s. You may know part of the story—the increasing popularity of homebrewing beer in the 1970s and the rise of microbreweries in the 1990s. We dug into the Brewers Association’s archives looking for interviews, images and milestone moments that tell the story of U.S. craft beer history. Part of our mission at CraftBeer.com is to educate beer lovers, and we hope you enjoy soaking up how these events in beer history laid the foundation for the craft brewing community we love today.
Craft Beer Timeline
Notable Dates in Beer History
1800 BC (Circa) A “Hymn to Ninkasi,” the Sumerian goddess of beer, is inscribed on a tablet, about 4,000 years after men first leave evidence of brewing activity.
Saint Arnold of Metz is born, one of dozens of patron saints to beer, brewers and hop-pickers. He helps end a plague by convincing people to drink beer rather than impure water.
The Reinheitsgebot, instituted in Bavaria, is a beer “purity law” that remains today in revised form. The original laws permits beer to be made only with barley, hops and water, later acknowledging yeast and permitting wheat.
Heinrich Knaust writes the first extensive book on brewing in Germany, describing in detail about 150 different beers. He calls the “noble Hamburg beer the queen of all other wheat beers.”
The tavern that will become known as the Wayside Inn after being immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Tales of a Wayside Inn opens in Sudbury, Mass. Nearly 300 years later it’s the oldest continuously operating inn in the United States.
A storage vat at the Horse Shoe Brewery in London containing more than 300,000 gallons of porter collapses, knocking down brewery walls and flooding immediate area. Eight people are killed, “by drowning, injury, poisoning by porter fumes, or drunkenness.”
Prohibition, in the form of the 18th Amendment, outlaws the sale of alcohol in the United States. Key dates to remember:
- The 18th Amendment is ratified on January 16, 1919 and goes into effect January 16, 1920.
- On March 23, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signs into law legislation permitting the sale of 3.2% alcohol beer.
- On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment repeals the 18th Amendment.