April 7th is Not the 75th Anniversary of the End of National Prohibition

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"What was was once a trite beer history canard has become an outright lie," says beer historian Bob Skilnik. "I can only hope that the apparent rewriting of U.S. brewing history is either an innocent result of poor research and not a shameful display of industry greed, just for the sake of a bump in beer sales."

Beer & Food: An American History

Bob Skilnik, author of "Beer & Food: An American History" (ISBN 0977808610, Jefferson Press, Hardcover, $24.95), argues that industry embellishments and poor research have distorted the true date of Repeal on December 5, 1933, which signified the revocation of the 18th Amendment and the enactment of the 21st Amendment and brought back the manufacture and sale of all alcoholic beverages.

"Congressional events leading up to April 7, 1933 allowed only the resumption of sales for legal beer with an alcoholic strength of no more than 3.2% alcohol by weight (abw), weak by today's standards. Congress had earlier passed the so-called Cullen-Harrison Bill which redefined what constituted a legally 'intoxicating' beverage. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the bill on March 23, 1933. The bill's passage took the teeth out of the bite of the Volstead Act of 1919 and raised the Prohibition-era legal limit of alcoholic drinks from .05% abw to 3.2% abw."

"Bringing breweries back online on April 7, 1933 in states whose legislatures agreed to go 'wet' again gave a tremendous shot in the arm of an economy in the throes of the Depression. In just forty-eight hours, $25,000,000 had been pumped into various beer-related trades as diverse as bottling manufacturers to the sawdust wholesalers whose product lay strewn on the floors of saloons. For the first day of nationwide beer sales, it was estimated that the federal tax for beer brought in $7,500,000 to the United States Treasury."

In the next few months, scores of states held constitutional conventions which led to the passage and enactment of the 21st Amendment, the first time a constitutional amendment had nullified another. It also gave municipal, state and federal governments the time to sort out the taxation and regulation of the entire drink trade, a legacy that continues.

On December 5, 1933, the true end of National Prohibition became a reality when Utah signed on to the Repeal amendment, satisfying the requirement of needing at least 36 states for the enactment of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

An expanded explanation of the true end of National Prohibition can be found at

About the Author
Bob Skilnik is an alumnus of Chicago's Siebel Institute of Technology, the oldest brewing school in the U.S.; a former associate editor for the American Breweriana Journal; and a contributor to trade journals, magazines, and newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune's "Good Eating" section. He has appeared on ABC's The View, the Fox News Channel, ESPN2 and Chicago's WTTW.


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