Celebrating Brew Year’s Eve Since 1933

By Meghan Storey

America’s craft brewers and beer lovers across the country will be celebrating Brew Year’s Eve with a craft beer in hand on April 7.

Brew Year’s Eve celebrates the eve of the modification of the Volstead Act, which raised the legal alcohol percentage of beverages from .05 percent to 3.2 percent, allowing some beers to be legal once again on April 7, 1933. Over 1.5 million barrels of beer were consumed during the first 24-hours after the modification of the act!

Eight months later, the 21st Amendment was ratified, ending Prohibition after nearly 13 years. Only half of America’s breweries survived to see the end of Prohibition, which came on December 5, 1933.

Learn more about the history of craft beer in “The American Story” by Stan Hieronymus.

American Craft Beer Today

Craft beer has certainly made a serious rebound since the days of Prohibition. According to the Brewers Association, publishers of CraftBeer.com, craft beer now represents more than 5 percent of the total beer market in the U.S. In 2011, American craft brewers produced nearly 11.5 million barrels of beer representing $8.7 billion in sales.

“We saw rapid growth in brewery openings last year [2011], particularly with microbrewery start-ups, and these numbers are poised to rise even more in 2012,” said Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association. “In February 2012, we already topped 2,000 operating breweries—a truly remarkable milestone. We look forward to even more success and the continued expansion of the craft beer market.”

Popular Brew Year’s Eve Celebrations

Public House Brewery | Rolla, MI
Prohibition Repeal Celebration – period costumes encouraged!

Schlafly Bottleworks | Maplewood, MO
Repeal of Prohibition Beer Festival 

Each year Schlafly celebrates the Repeal of Prohibition with a festival that features Schlafly beers and beers from one state that doesn’t currently distribute in St. Louis—this year, it’s Texas. Schlafly welcomes back Drew Huerter, a former Schlafly brewer, who is now head brewer for a start-up in Dallas, Deep Ellum, and the owners from Rahr and Sons in Ft. Worth and Real Ale in Blanco. “We host the festival on the Saturday after the 7, that way we start the party on Brew Year’s Eve and then end our week of celebration on the 14,” said Dan Kopman, co-founder of Schlafly Beer.

Carver Brewing Co. | Durango, CO
Durango Bootleggers Spring Tonic Speakeasy Party

Join Carver’s, Durango Brewing, Ska and Steamworks at the release party for Spring Tonic, brewed from a Pre-Prohibition Brew recipe. Go back in time as Carver’s Brewing is set up like a speakeasy where you must know the “password” to get inside. Duane Smith, local historian will take us back in time with his talk on the early days in Durango and some of the brewing history. Along with that there will be beer-themed movies showing throughout the restaurant and live music from local favorites Waiting on Trial. Folks are encouraged to dress in prohibition-era attire and proceeds from the beer sales will go to the Animas Museum.

How will you be celebrating Brew Year’s Eve?

Meghan Storey has been lucky enough to work in the world of craft beer since graduating from the University of Mississippi. Now living in Nashville, TN, with her big yellow dog Wally, she loves introducing friends to new craft beer and food pairings. Since beginning work on CraftBeer.com she can be found adding beer to just about everything she cooks.

Read more from Meghan Storey