Beer Became Legal Today – April 7, 1933

At 12:01 a.m., Friday, April 7, 1933, beer became legal again after 13 long years of Prohibition.  No more need for nasty home brew.

In St. Louis, crowds had gathered outside the city’s two breweries.  Some 25,000 were outside Anheuser-Busch Inc.’s plant, where workers had prepared 45,000 cases of beer and were busily brewing more.

Some 10,000 more were outside Joseph Griesedieck‘s plant at Forest Park and Spring Aves., where he was producing Falstaff, a brand he had acquired from former brewer William Lemp Jr., soon after Prohibition began in 1920.  Griesedieck had 40,000 cases ready for the stroke of midnight.

Repeal of Prohibition wouldn’t occur until December.  But President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a “wet” Democrat Congress had been elected pledging to revoke Prohibition.  So they tweaked the definition of “intoxicant” in the Volstead Act, the federal law enforcing Prohibition, to allow 3.2% ABV beer.

At midnight, brewery whistles sounded but were quickly drowned out by the roar of happy crowds.  Beer trucks rolled out, and, at the A-B brewery, a Clydesdale-drawn hitch.  August A. “Gussie” Busch spoke to a national radio audience, noting the benefits of Repeal extended beyond bars and brewers to include farmers, rail workers, glassmakers, coal miners and others.

Beer was 10 cents a glass at taverns.  Budweiser was selling for $2.75 a case, Falstaff for a dime less.

Utah became the 36th state to adopt the 21st Amendment ending national Prohibition.  But the amendment gave states control over the importation, distribution and sale of alcohol.  Illinois allowed all drinks immediately.  Missouri waited a month before allowing distilled spirits.

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