National Beer Day: Here’s to Choice, Freedom and the American Way

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National Beer Day

“Every day is National Beer Day.”

Right? You will no doubt see this comment — or think it to yourself — after hearing that April 7 is dubbed National Beer Day. The day is marked in the United States as the effective date of the Cullen-Harrison Act, which, prior to the official end of Prohibition on December 5, 1933, Americans could return to purchasing beer that was no stronger than 4.05 percent alcohol by volume.

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The Cullen-Harrison Act was a huge deal for the country, nullifying an attempt by the federal government to curb “the decay of the American family” and “crimes” that they attributed to alcohol producers, like wineries, distillers and breweries. In 1873 the U.S. was home to over 4,100 breweries. Not even 50 years later, there were zero due to the federal ban on the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages.

National Beer Day Infographic

As craft beer fans, it is hard to imagine a time without the variety of beer we enjoy. It took nearly 80 years to recover the number of breweries lost in 13 years of Prohibition. We no doubt live in historic beer times but that doesn’t mean we should disregard looking back on these days in history. Threats exist to our “Every day is beer day” way of life and history sometimes has a funny way of repeating itself.

What are those Prohibition Era threats that remain to this day?


When one player controls all of the options available, do you really have free choice?

National Beer Day meant the end was near for the government’s 13 years assault on an individual’s free choice. However, it was not until decades later that the country gained the spark from a few innovative individuals setting the American craft beer revolution aglow. In between that time, consolidation and homogenization of beer into a commodity reduced further the number of American breweries. Experts believed that soon the U.S. would be completely controlled by two or three giant players. And they were right … but…

While these giant beer corporations still control a vast swath of the U.S. beer industry, no one could have anticipated that they would have to share it with over 5,000 other breweries. Even now, these behemoths are intent on controlling your choice and pocket book. In past years, consolidation of breweries has increased again and the large buyers want to make sure they wear you down. With so much variety, making a choice takes even more research, even more focus to filter out external noise. The big brewers bank on you being too weak to make an informed choice and hope that you’ll relent and just choose what’s plastered in front of you. The choice they provide is an illusion. When one player controls all of the options available, do you really have free choice?

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Eighty years later, the dreams of the 19-teens are alive and well in Utah.

Prohibition restricted the freedom of Americans. Often times we find that these types of infringement on an individual’s ability to make their own decisions don’t work out. Still, just as some follow a live and let live motto, others find it their duty to try to find ways to restrict other free citizens. Case in point, ummm, Utah’s adoption of the .05 percent BAC limit, effectively prohibiting anyone from having a drink and legally driving home.

“No one wants to see someone intoxicated get behind the wheel,” writes Paul Gatza, the director of the Brewers Association (the publishers of in his post on the developments. “The average BAC for a drunk driver involved in a fatal accident is .19 BAC, nearly four times the .05 level.”

The law places an extreme burden on adults who choose to imbibe responsibly, restaurants and breweries that risk serving them and the law enforcement community to that has to deal with a law that seems more about legislating a social taboo than trying to make anyone safer.

Eighty years later, the dreams of the 19-teens are alive and well in Utah.

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Our American Way

So cheers to National Beer Day today and every day, but please don’t take it for granted. The threats to our way of life can be very sobering. Celebrate the freedoms that we enjoy so much. Celebrate responsibly and with a purpose and if you hear someone say that, “Every day is Beer Day,” tell them to just go with it and try to act surprised.

Andy Sparhawk, the Brewers Association's acting editor-in-chief for Andy is a Certified Cicerone® and BJCP Beer Judge. He lives in Westminster, Colorado where he is an avid craft beer enthusiast. On occasion, Andy is inspired to write on his experiences with craft beer, and if they are not too ridiculous, you might see the results here on is fully dedicated to small and independent U.S. breweries. We are published by the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers. Stories and opinions shared on do not imply endorsement by or positions taken by the Brewers Association or its members.