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Three cheers for beer! National Beer Day is here!

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In recent years, Bangor and beer have become synonymous. The region has become a legitimate hotbed for interesting and talented beermakers. The craft beer explosion has been a remarkable thing to watch as more and more passionate brewers decide to try and bring their sudsy dreams to fruition.

Leaving aside the economic impact – which is undeniably significant – it’s just great to know that there are places all over where you can find and enjoy an exceptional beer. We’re up to our ears in options from breweries large and small. In fact, by some measurements, Maine is one of the beeriest states in the Union, with recent developments pushing us past Vermont as the state with the most breweries per capita.

Obviously, the last year has been hard on businesses across the board; the craft brewing industry is no more immune to that difficulty than any other, not to mention the hospitality industry as a whole. Yet we remain committed to our beer; we can only hope that the positive developments out there will lead us back to the bars and beer coolers en masse as we move forward.

And make no mistake – the beer is definitely still out there. No matter what your taste might be, you’ll be able to find something to suit your particular palate at an area brewery. And since National Beer Day is here, we thought it might be nice to take a moment and celebrate.

What’s National Beer Day, you ask?

National Beer Day is what we like to call an “unofficial” holiday. Sure, it isn’t acknowledged on any federal calendar, but that doesn’t make it any less legitimate. Look at some of the other “holidays” that share the same month. April Fools’ Day? Not an official holiday, but who doesn’t love pulling a harmless prank or two? We sure do love it here at The Maine Edge. And what about Earth Day? Again, not official, but who would argue against its importance and/or legitimacy?

So it is with National Beer Day (and New Beer’s Eve, of course). Is it silly? Of course it is. Still, there’s something to be said for a day set aside to celebrate something that so many of us enjoy. Beer is a part of our national consciousness in a way that few other consumables are.

Think about the huge variety of beer you see when you go to the grocery store. Or when you dream of returning to visit your favorite local watering hole. Think about the utter ubiquity of beer commercials on our television airwaves. Think about the rapidly-growing contingent of small craft breweries offering their own unique takes on the classic beverage. Think about the multitude of homebrewers making their own beers in their own homes – a throwback to those Prohibition days, only without the fear of reprisal and with the assistance of dedicated outlets such as Bangor’s own Central Street Farmhouse (which, in all seriousness, is a TREMENDOUS resource for anyone interested in this kind of thing).

Beer has become an American institution. So why not set aside a day to celebrate? Tip back a tall cold one on April 7, my friends. Heck, if I had my druthers, I’d make it a whole week, because really, is a single day enough? The last year has been tough, but let’s cross our fingers that it won’t be long until we can once again stroll freely into our favorite local tap room/tavern and order up something sudsy. I know that I am looking forward to it very much.

As for why it is April 7…

Prohibition’s End and the First Beer Day

The Prohibition era in the United States began in 1920 when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was effected, outlawing the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol on a national level. The National Prohibition Act, passed in 1919 and popularly known as the Volstead Act, established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor and the assorted punishments for producing or selling it.

The Volstead Act proved exceedingly difficult to enforce, which led to a wildly popular underground economy, filled with bootleggers, rumrunners and speakeasy clubs. In many ways, Prohibition gave birth to the “organized crime” that remains with us to this day.

Prohibition soon lost what little true support it did have, with events like the Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 serving as harsh reminders that like it or not, people were going to find ways to drink. Add to that the Great Depression, when people clearly needed something to take their minds off the dismal state of the nation, and Prohibition’s days were clearly numbered.

And so, on March 22, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen-Harrison Act. Cullen-Harrison legalized the sale of beers and wines with a sufficiently low alcohol content (3.2 percent or below by weight), effective when?

You guessed it - April 7.

People were once again allowed to legally buy beer. There were lines outside taverns and breweries all over the country as people swarmed for the opportunity to legally buy a beer for the first time in well over a decade. Of course, in December of that same year, the 21st Amendment was ratified, hence repealing the 18th Amendment and effectively bringing the Prohibition era to an end.

The cool, crisp, adult beverage-y taste of freedom. That’s what we’re celebrating. Happy National Beer Day, folks. Drink one for me.

Last modified on Wednesday, 07 April 2021 11:16

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