President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Cullen–Harrison Act into law on March 22, 1933. Up until then, the sale of beer and alcohol had been illegal in the U.S. for 14 years. Prohibition had lowered government tax revenues at a critical time during the Great Depression.
Upon signing the legislation, Roosevelt remarked, "I think this would be a good time for a beer."
The legislation was enacted on April 7, 1933, and people across the country celebrated by consuming 1.5 million barrels of beer.
The Cullen-Harrison Act was not the official end of prohibition in the U.S. but it did redefine an "intoxicating beverage" under the Volstead Act. Legalizing alcohol in 1933 also ended the most violent period in American history for America’s law enforcement officers when an average of 180 police officers were killed by gunfire each year.
National Beer Day, celebrated on April 7, was first created in 2009 by Justin Smith of Richmond, Virginia. National Beer Day was officially recognized by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in 2017. Social media promotion and beer drinking apps have helped the holiday grow.
In 2018, Americans consumed an average of 26.3 gallons of beer per person. April 6, the day prior to National Beer Day, is known as New Beer's Eve. Millions of Americans line up waiting for the stroke of midnight to celebrate.
Today, there are over 6,300 breweries in the United States, including 6,266 craft breweries. Beer production is a $114.2 billion-dollar industry. The #1 domestic beer sold today is Bud Light.
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