This Day in Beer History: 12/29/1930

By Brett Vanderbrook - On this day in history, 12/29/1930, Rae Samuels poses with the last bottle produced at the Schlitz Brewery before Prohibition started in 1920.

Prohibition was the period in the United States from 1920-1933 where the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages was made illegal by the 18th amendment to the Constitution. We found this photo posted on the Twitterverse today from beer writer @Brookston exactly 84 years ago on December 29th, 1930 with American Vaudville performer Rae Samuels holding the last bottle of Schlitz beer produced before prohibition went into effect, likely from late 1919.

Prohibition ended on December 5th, 1933, an abject failure. It wiped virtually every brewery in the United States off the map, and a once thriving industry was reduced to a handful of breweries large enough to weather the storm, or those with the resources to divert their focus to other industries. It's almost certainly solely responsible for the "beer desert" experienced in the US from the 1930s to the 1980s. So tonight when you crack open a fragrant double IPA or a rich, complex imperial stout, be thankful you're living during the American craft beer renaissance!

If you'd like to learn more about the history of American beer, I highly recommend picking up Maureen Ogle's fantastic 2006 book Ambitious Brew: The History of American Beer. It chronicles American brewing history, starting with the arrival of German immigrants to Wisconsin in the 1840s up through the beginning of the craft beer revolution of the 1980s and 90s.

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