Posted 9 months ago
History of Malt Beverages
The Senate proposed the Eighteenth Amendment on December 18, 1917. Having been approved by 36 states, the 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919 and effected on January 16, 1920.
On November 18, 1918, before the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment, the United States Congress passed the temporary Wartime Prohibition Act, which banned the sale of alcoholic beverages having an alcohol content of greater than 2.75%. (This act, which was intended to save grain for the war effort, was passed after the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.) The Wartime Prohibition Act took effect June 30, 1919, and July 1, 1919 became widely known as the "Thirsty-First".
Congress passed the Volstead Act, the popular name for the National Prohibition Act, over President Woodrow Wilson's veto on October 28, 1919, and established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor, as well as penalties for producing it. Though the Volstead Act prohibited the sale of alcohol, the federal government did little to enforce it. By 1925, in New York City alone, there were anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasy clubs.
While Prohibition was successful in reducing the amount of liquor consumed, it stimulated the proliferation of rampant underground, organized and widespread criminal activity. Many were astonished and disenchanted with the rise of spectacular gangland crimes (such as Chicago's St. Valentine's Day massacre), when prohibition was supposed to reduce crime. Prohibition lost its advocates one by one, while the wet opposition talked of personal liberty, new tax revenues from legal beer and liquor, and the scourge of organized crime.
On March 22, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Cullen-Harrison Act, legalizing alcohol content of 3.2% (by weight) and wine of similarly low alcohol content. On December 5, 1933, the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment. However, United States federal law still prohibits the manufacture of distilled spirits without meeting numerous licensing requirements that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal beverage use.