by Mike Retzlaff

At 12:01 a.m. on April 7, 1933, brewery whistles around the country heralded the return of beer.  Around the country, night clubs, hotels and restaurants, most filled beyond capacity, struggled to keep the taps flowing as raucous crowds downed an amazing 1.5 million barrels of beer during the first 24 hours that beer was back.

There were many other things which changed nearly overnight concerning beer.  The 5¢ beer became a fleeting memory as part of the reason for the end of Prohibition was to generate revenues.  The $1 per barrel tax went to $5 per barrel. 

Opponents had often cited the “tied house” relationship of brewers and saloons as being one of the reasons for the “poor moral condition” of American saloons.  This was a major force in the push for Prohibition in the first place. 

Another casualty of Prohibition was the saloon.  The stigma of the pre-Prohibition saloon and “grogshops” along with the “speakeasies” of the Prohibition era, was circumvented by the use of names such as tavern, bar, club, and café.  Many state legislatures outlawed the use of swinging doors and in some areas, the law required that proprietors provide bar stools for patrons as it was thought that the venerable tradition of standing at the bar promoted heavy drinking.

With repeal, legislation was adopted to break the old bond of the tied-house.  Today, the separation between brewer and retailer is strictly regulated – hence the Distributor. That seemingly simple fix has ushered in a different set of problems. Common sense isn’t very common. Perhaps one day we’ll fill our legislatures with smart people instead of popular people.

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