December 5, 2016 marks the 83rd year anniversary of the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution (Volstead Act) being repealed. The 21st Amendment repealed the 13-year ban on any consumable alcohol manufacturing, distribution, or reselling. The Volstead act was enacted on January 17, 1920 and was very poorly enforced. What so-called well meaning temperance activists meant in trying and change “society’s morals for the better”, actually made things worse. Criminal activity ensued; gangsters such as Chicago’s Al Capone lead an (often violent) black market for alcohol. In New York city alone, there were an estimated 30,000 – 100,000 “Speakeasy” clubs selling illegal alcohol during prohibition.
Before prohibition, there were several thousand craft breweries in the United States. The 13-year temperance period killed most of them off. One can only speculate what the craft brewing scene would be like if Prohibition never happened! Utah was the final state to ratify the 21st amendment on December 5th, 1933. December 15 1933 is the official date that national prohibition ended for good.
Some people may not know, but Belgium went through its own sort of prohibition from 1919-1930. They did not ban all alcohol outright, but banned the sale of harder liquors. So what did crafty Belgians do? They started making beers with higher alcohol content! These high gravity beer styles are still enjoyed today.
Our view on beer is that it is a beverage that is generally less in alcohol content than wine or spirits, and should be enjoyed in moderation and as much as possible, with a great meal. There are well documented health benefits associated with moderate consumption of beer. Health and social problems start when you over consume. Even over-consuming vitamins or drinking too much water can have a detrimental affect on the human body. As we always say, moderation is the key!
So on this day, why not go to your local beer shop, pub, brew pub, restaurant, or anywhere else that sells Belgian beer (or Belgian-Style or Belgian-Inspired craft beers made here in the USA) lift up a pint, and toast to 83 years of brewing freedom!
à votre santé,
Belgian Beer Journal