April 7 is National Beer Day! We’re excited to celebrate accordingly, but we want to do so in a way that pays homage to the reason for the holiday — the enactment of the Cullen-Harrison Act, which led to the repeal of the 18th Amendment. If you’ve already had a pint of unfiltered ale and are perhaps feeling a little foggy, we’ll fill you in on the details.
Keep reading to learn more about the history of National Beer Day, and stick around for a few NBD-worthy beer recommendations from our experts.
National Beer Day: The Anniversary of the Cullen-Harrison Act
Congress passed the 18th Amendment in 1919, banning the production and sale of all “intoxicating” alcoholic beverages. In their infinite wisdom, the prevailing leaders of the time blamed skyrocketing crime and poverty rates on alcohol consumption, but prohibition failed to eliminate the problem.
So 14 years later, on April 7, 1933, Congress passed the Cullen-Harrison Act, which made it legal to drink beverages containing less than 3.3% alcohol — effectively ending prohibition in the United States. After signing the bill into law, President Roosevelt exclaimed, “I think this would be a good time for a beer!”
Celebrating National Beer Day
This National Beer Day, we’re celebrating with classic American beers that have been around since before the days of prohibition and endured through the dry spell and into the modern day.
Who hasn’t enjoyed a Coors Light at some point in their life? One of America’s oldest brewers, Coors has been making beer since 1873 in Golden, Colorado. Coors Banquet is their heritage beer recipe, brewed with Rocky Mountain water and Moravian barley grown on family farms. Their cans are a vintage design — a callback to the old brewing days. How did Coors survive prohibition? By selling pottery tea sets, cookware, and even sugar bowls.
Hamm’s Brewery was established in 1856 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Their Premium Lager, which is still available in stores, was one of their first beers. Hamm’s Premium is a light, drinkable, and an affordable option. During prohibition, Hamm’s sold soft drinks until alcohol production was legal again.
German immigrant Jacob Leinenkugel founded Leinenkugel’s in 1867 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin — a logging town at the time. According to Leinenkugel's, their original lager was brewed to “quench the thirst of over 2,500 lumberjacks.” Quench your own lumberjack thirst with the very same Leinenkugel’s Original Lager, or take your pick from any of their specialty varieties. Leinenkugel’s survived prohibition by selling “near beer,” an extremely low ABV malt drink that resembled beer, but had less than 0.5% alcohol.
Originally brewed in 1850 in Detroit, Michigan, Stroh’s was eventually purchased by other brands who broke up the company. Lucky for us, Stroh’s parent company continues to brew and distribute the original recipe. Their crisp Bohemian-style pilsner is still brewed in Detroit using Saaz and Magnum hops and Vienna malt. Stroh’s made it through prohibition by selling “near beer,” malt products, ice cream, and ice.
Michelob Original Lager
A classic European-style lager, Michelob Original Lager has been using a similar recipe since they first started brewing in St. Louis, Missouri in 1896. With a rich, golden color and malty flavor with hints of toffee and caramel, there’s a reason Michelob’s Original Lager has been around for as long as it has. Michelob survived prohibition by selling ingredients to make beer, such as brewer’s yeast, malt, and Bevo — a nonalcoholic malt “near beer” drink.
Introduced in 1876 in St. Louis, Missouri, Budweiser quickly rose in popularity across the country due to their use of refrigerated rail cars. Their original American-style lager recipe hasn’t changed much over the years, helping them continue to maintain their place as one of America’s best-selling beers. Somewhat surprisingly, Budweiser persevered through prohibition by selling ice cream.
On Sale This Week: The New Classic, Founders All Day IPA
They’ve only been around since 1997, but Founders Brewing has quickly established itself as a brewery that’s here to stay. Their All Day IPA is on sale in our stores this week, so join us in celebrating the end of prohibition — as well as all the wonderful brews we enjoy as a result of such a glorious day!