On April 7, 1933, the Volstead Act was repealed, which raised the legal alcohol percentage of beverages from .05 percent to 3.2 percent, allowing some beers to be legal once again in America—a day now known as Brew Year’s Eve.
It took eight decades, but American beer culture has been reprised due to a shift toward craft beers of flavor and integrity. These beers are being produced by over 2,400 small and independent breweries in every state in the Union.
On behalf of all of us at CraftBeer.com, we salute the innovators and pioneers of the craft brewing industry—you are the heart and soul of the American brewing revolution. Prohibition may have set back the evolution of beer in the U.S. for some time, but the American spirit of independence, ingenuity and resolve would not be defeated.
Raise a toast to our nation’s beer history, then raise another to the future.
American Beer History Important Dates & Facts
- 1919-1933: Prohibition, in the form of the 18th amendment, outlaws the sale of alcohol in the U.S.
- The 18th Amendment is ratified on January 16, 1919, and goes into effect January 16, 1920.
- On April 7, 1933, President Roosevelt signs into law legislation permitting the sale of 3.2 percent alcohol beer.
- On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment repeals the 18th Amendment.
- Only 300 breweries survived Prohibition.
- 1976: Jack McAuliffe founds New Albion Brewing.
- 1978: Only 42 brewing companies exist in the U.S. due to consolidation.
- 80s/90s: Craft beer pioneers begin to open small breweries around the country.
- Late 90s/early 2000s: A slow in craft brewer growth, plus a rash of entrants into the market not serious about making quality beer had critics calling the revolution a fad.
- Today: With over five years of double-digit growth, record craft beer sales and more than 2,400 breweries, America is now the greatest place in the world to enjoy beer.
Andy Sparhawk, the Brewers Association’s Craft Beer Program Coordinator, is a Certified Cicerone® and BJCP Beer Judge. He lives in Arvada, Colorado where he is a homebrewer and 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 CraftBeer.com.
CraftBeer.com 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 CraftBeer.com do not imply endorsement by or positions taken by the Brewers Association or its members.