Do you have any idea what tomorrow, April 6th, is? Whether you recognize it or not, it is a day which was much anticipated and heartily celebrated by multitudes of our forebears.
Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed to admit that it has taken me more than sixty years to become aware of the significance of this date in history. Especially given some of my more well practiced proclivities.
Let me provide a little background for you.
On March 23, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law the Cullen-Harrison Act. In retrospect, this is perhaps one of the most popular laws ever enacted, as well as one of the least remembered; at least by it’s name. When you take time to think about it, the signing of the Cullen-Harrison Act provides evidence, however slight, that Congress, the President, and the Washington establishment does sometimes “get it right“; in spite of their best intentions.
You see, the Cullen-Harrison Act was the beginning of the end for the much despised Volstead Act which had been enacted on January 17, 1920.
Ah! The lights are starting to go off above a few of your heads. The Volstead Act, in concert with the Eighteenth Amendment, prohibited the production, sale, and transport of intoxicating liquors within the United States.
That’s right! Prohibition!
Whereas January 17, 1920 was cause for great celebration and much back-slapping among boot-leggers, teetotalers, Baptist ministers, king-pins of organized crime, and mafia dons; April 7, 1933 became a day of celebration for the Common Man. For April 7th was the day that the Cullen-Harrison Act effectively ended Prohibition by allowing for the sale of 3.2% (4% ABV) beer.
On the evening of April 6, 1933, long lines of exceedingly thirsty folk began to form outside of breweries all across the country in anticipation of the opening of bottles and taps at midnight! The celebration of “New Beer’s Eve” was spontaneously born.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m somewhat embarrassed that, as a home-brewer and a lover of all types of beer, I’ve never been aware of, nor celebrated New Beer’s Eve. I plan to remedy that oversight tomorrow. I’m not planning on going overboard. There will be no stringing of lights over a festively decorated keg or the hanging of steins from the mantle above the fireplace in the hope that St Pauli will make a visit. No, I’ll just open a dark ale and savor it in memory of our freedom to quaff (responsibly).
Frankly, when I think about it, I’m a little surprised that the Post Office isn’t taking Monday off in recognition of the day.
Photos from kegworks.com