Prohibition HistoryJust the word “prohibition” is enough to make most beer fans cringe.  I’ve never lived in a world where beer was against the law, but I sure know that I don’t want to. Prohibition was a big part of U.S. history however and if you’re a nerd like me, it’s pretty interesting to learn about it.

Since today marks 78 years since the Cullen-Harrison Act became law, allowing Americans to sell alcohol again, I’ve put together a bullet point history of prohibition formatted Twitter style (140 character or less sentences).

  • 1830 – The average American drank 1.7 bottles of hard liquor a week (3 times the amount consumed in 2010)
  • 1840’s – The prohibition movement began lead by pietistic religious denominations
  • 1851 – The state of Maine banned the manufacturing and selling of liquor, but it was repelled in 1856
  • 1869 – Prohibition Party founded
  • 1873 – Women’s Christian Temperance Union founded
  • 1873 – 4131 Breweries were running in the U.S.
  • 1881 – Kansas became the first state to outlaw alcoholic beverages in its constitution
  • 1893 – The Anti-Saloon League is formed
  • December 1917 – Resolution was introduced & passed by congress calling for an amendment to accomplish nationwide prohibition
  • January 16, 1919 – The 18th Amendment had been ratified by 36 of the 48 states
  • October 28, 1919 – The amendment was implemented by the Volstead Act
  • January 16, 1920 – Prohibition began making it illegal to sell and transport alcohol in the U.S.
  • March 23, 1933 – President Roosevelt signed amendment to Volstead Act (Cullen-Harrison Act), allowing the manufacture and sale of “3.2 beer”
  • April 7, 1933 – The Cullen-Harrison Act became law (allowing beers up to 4% ABV to be manufactured)
  • April 8, 1933 – Anheuser-Busch, Inc. sent a team of Clydesdale horses to deliver a case of Budweiser to the White House
  • December 5, 1933 – The 21st Amendment repeals the 18th Ammendment
  • 1935 – Alcoholics Anonymous is founded

What are you drinking today in honor national beer day?


  1. Have you seen any of Scorcese’s brilliant series, Boardwalk Empire, which deals with the introduction of prohibition and those that got around it in Atlantic City. The lead character is Enoch Thompson. An ancestor perhaps?

    • No I haven’t, but I will add it to my list. Thompson isn’t a very popular name, I thought I was the only one. 🙂

  2. Hey,

    My name is Justin Smith, and I am the founder of National Beer Day. I started promoting the celebration of this great day in american history about 3 years ago. I never imagined that it would get so big so quickly! Thank you for helping spread the word about one of my favorite holidays every year!

    There are a lot of unofficial random beer drinking holidays in the US.

    New Beer’s Eve – April 6th
    National Beer Day – April 7th
    National Homebrew Day – First Saturday in May
    American Craft Beer Week – Starts on the 3rd Monday in May and goes for a week
    International Beer Day – Aug. 5th
    National Beer Lover’s Day – Sept. 7th
    National Drink a Beer Day – Sept. 28th
    American Beer Day – Oct. 27th

    National Beer Day (April 7th) is the only with with a historically significant date.

    April 7th is National Beer Day here in the US. In 1933 during the prohibition era, the Cullen-Harrison Act was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt on March 23rd. That law was enacted on April 7th allowing the brewing and sale of beer in the United States again as long as it was < 3.2% (4% ABV). It's said that people waited in line overnight on April 6th outside Milwaukee breweries in order to legally buy beer for the first time in over 13 years. As a result, April 7th is known as National Beer Day and April 6th is called New Beers Eve.

    National Beer Days around the world –

    March 1st – Iceland
    April 6th – England
    April 7th – USA
    April 23rd – Germany

  3. Robert Cassera Reply

    This is a great quick rundown of the history of prohibition in America. Being a bartender, I am always interested to learn more about anything having to do with my “carerer.” I can’t imagine living in a world without easy access to my favorite beverage. Thanks for an interesting read.

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