With April come pranks and Easter egg hunts and tax frustrations, but there’s one notable spring day you may not know about that makes a great excuse to crack open some one-of-a-kind craft beers.
In 1933, people all over the country gathered outside of bars and breweries to count down the minutes until midnight on April 7th, when they would finally be able to purchase alcohol again after nearly 14 years of Prohibition. As they waited in gleeful anticipation, the crowds dubbed the celebratory night New Beer’s Eve, and one of the punny-est (and sudsy-est!) American holidays was born. And today, you can still spend the holiday sampling suds – and getting a little taste of trivia, too – with this round-up of the best beers to toast New Beer’s Eve.
What better way to celebrate the joy those springtime revelers must have felt when they finally took a sip of their first legal beer in nearly a decade and a half than with a brew curtly named Pure Hoppiness. This IPA from California Brewer Alpine Beer Company promises to take you to “hop heaven” and its unique flavor profile produces an almost fruit-like crispness and a springy flavor that is both prickly and sweet.
Although proponents argued that Prohibition would reduce crime and boost the economy, the ban ultimately had the opposite effect. Once they could no longer depend on revenue from alcohol sales, many businesses had to close, which in turn meant a lot of people were suddenly out of work. On top of this, bootlegging fostered a huge rise in gang activity, encouraged rampant bribery of police officers and Prohibition agents, and made full-blown criminals out of average citizens who simply wanted to toss back a drink or two on a Saturday night. Luckily, you don’t need to keep an eye out for the authorities while you’re enjoying Arrogant Brewing Company’s infamous Crime ale on New Beer’s Eve – but we should warn you, it’s still a little risky. The company brews this beer by blending three varieties of ale with jalapeno, serrano, and other chile peppers, resulting in an intensely unique final flavor profile that’s heavy on the heat.
Crime wasn’t the only unforeseen consequence of repealing the 18th Amendment. Although we may tend to think of Prohibition as a blanket ban on alcohol in the United States, it didn’t officially ban the consumption of it – only the manufacturing, sale, and distribution. This meant that more people began drinking illegally manufactured alcohol, which could be quite dangerous due to a complete lack of oversight in its production. Home-brewed alcohol was much more easily tainted, and as a result, an average of 1000 Americans died every year during Prohibition from drinking illegal alcohol. Alright, so this trivia tidbit may not put you in a celebratory mood, but a swig of Ninkasi Brewing Company’s Dawn of the Red IPA will. This hop-heavy brew starts with a bitter opening note that quickly crescendos into a fruity mango, pineapple, and papaya blend.
Though many companies weren’t able to recover from the financial hit of the Prohibition era, some breweries decided to find a way to survive or go down swinging. Yuengling, established in 1829, survived Prohibition by selling near-beer products and opening a dairy across from their brewery. The dairy turned out quite well for the company – they produced ice cream for over 65 years, even after Prohibition was repealed, and they brought back the sweet treat in 2014. It’s lucky for us this company stuck around, because they’re still brewing strong today with some truly tasty flavors. The Black and Tan, brewed with a combination of traditional and citrus hops, is a silky-smooth ride with delicious hints of coffee and chocolate.
No New Beer’s Eve celebration would be complete without a toast to the good old fashioned American freedom and democracy that made all those happy toasts on April 6th, 1933 possible. After 13 years, it became obvious that Prohibition was having a negative impact on the lives and freedoms of American citizens – and in 1932, prez-to-be Franklin Delano Roosevelt picked up on the country’s frustrations and campaigned on a promise to end the ban. On March 22, 1933, less than a month after his inauguration, Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, making the sale of drinks with up to 3.2% alcohol legal. As he signed the Act, Roosevelt quipped “I think this would be a good time for a beer.” By the end of that same year, the 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition in its entirety. So, raise a frosty mug to your rights this New Beer’s Eve with 21st Amendment’s Brew Free! Or Die Blood Orange – an IPA made with four hop varieties and bursting with fresh citrusy flavor (you’ll love it so much that you may just want to revisit the brewery in the fall, when they release their Fireside Chats Ale – a winter-spiced treat celebrating FDR himself).
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