New Beer’s Eve: Happy days were here again
Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 7, 2008
(CNN) — At the stroke of midnight, American beer drinkers were no longer breaking the law when they broke open a beer.
Breweries and beer lovers around the country are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the return of beer on April 7, 1933, as the Prohibition era was drawing to a close.
It wasn’t quite the end of Prohibition, and it wasn’t quite beer, but after 14 thirsty years, it was close enough.
Bob Skilnik, author of eight books about beer, including “Beer & Food: An American History,” holds that the December date is more significant and that the quickly brewed April 7 beer probably was of poor quality.
Readers have to realize where the beer that night came from. It was beer that was ready to be dealcoholized. The pre-Prohibition brewers used to make a big deal about the length of their beers’ maturation…at least one month. The C-H Bill, however, gave them only 2 weeks to get beer bottled or kegged and ready for the market.
You can be sure that any beer that was about to be stripped of its alcohol was a beer without the choicest hops or a decent grain bill. What would be the purpose if the beer was going to be stripped of alcohol?
This became more obvious as the beer continued to flow from the breweries in the later weeks. The public started to complain that the beer tasted “green,” i.e., not mature. Pabst even started a newspaper campaign that pledged that no beer would leave their brewery until it was ready.
So people can talk nostalgically about the 3.2% beer all they want, call it “session beer” or “small” beer or whatever; it was poorly crafted beer ready for a vigorous boiling to extract the alcohol.