Prohibition blues are over, so celebrate craft beer!

This past December 5th we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition.  If you know anything at all about Prohibition, you know that is was a massive failure. The 13-year period of prohibition marked a very dark time in the United States.  Organized crime rose drastically due to the outlaw of alcohol. Law enforcement systems were corrupted and a general disrespect for the law began.   The proposed solution of eliminating alcohol actually significantly increased the issue of alcohol abuse.  As the years passed, people began to realize the problems that Prohibition created and support began to fade. On December 5th, the final state, Utah, repealed prohibition allowing all Americans the freedom to imbibe. Even now, the 21st Amendment is still the only Constitutional amendment ever passed to overturn a previous amendment. This goes to show what an incredible failure the passage of the 18th amendment (national prohibition) was. 

Within a year of repeal over 750 breweries began to pop up across the U.S. However, half never regained the financial ground that had been lost and eventually had to close their doors. Larger breweries began to continuously expand territories and crushed many smaller breweries while doing so.  As the brewing market began to dwindle, a stylistic change of beer itself began. American’s were producing bland, lifeless, pale lagers that were almost indiscernible from each other.  One of the major causes of this was World War II. There were grain rations because of the war, so breweries began to use adjuncts in their beer. Some of these adjuncts were corn or rice used with traditional barley. A large amount of men were overseas during this time and very few women actually drank beer that was anything but light. While the smaller breweries began to fade, the larger lager producing breweries using these adjuncts like Coors Brewing or Anheuser-Busch Brewing continued to grow throughout the war. Eventually American beer became known as low quality and flavorless. 

These watery lagers continued to grow, but in 70’s a change began. The first microbrewery since before prohibition opened in California. Then in 1978, President Jimmy Carter legalized home production of wine or beer for personal consumption. This slowly got the ball rolling for the emergence of craft beer. Home brewers began experimenting with styles of beer they were unable to buy. They also began opening their own small breweries throughout the nation. People began to want more than fizzy yellow beer! They had a thirst for diversity, quality, flavor, passion and for more information and education on brewing! These initial microbrews turned into what we now today consider to be craft beer. Throughout the 90’s craft beer became increasingly better, more complex, and was a much higher quality.  The passionate brewers continued to become more innovative and breweries continued to open.  

Today, there are over 2500 craft breweries in the United States brewing 142 different styles of beers. You can try anything from a Belgian Style Wit to Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout!  As I’m writing this, the guys are in the back pulling our uncarbonated brown ale (Bad, Bad Cascade Brown) from the fermentation tanks. They are putting this into what we call a cask, which is a small vessel for creating a very unique “real ale”. They will add coco nibs, orange peel, and maple syrup. Why? Because they can! This collaboration with our friends at World of Beer is one of many they will be hosting during their “12 days of Christmas” beer event. We have the ability to be creative, experimental, and challenged now because of the growth of the craft beer industry. 

The journey from prohibition to today may have taken sometime, but the craft beer revolution has begun. Today there isn’t a better place in the world to be brewing or drinking craft beer. So please, raise your glass (full of craft beer we hope!) to those American’s who made this happen by re-legalizing the alcohol industry so many years ago.