Saturday, November 29, 2008

The 21st Amendment Story

Part 1: What's in a Name?

This coming Friday, December 5th, marks the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition (with the passage of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution). Here at the 21st Amendment Brewery, this is our “national holiday.” This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition, and we have a whole week of Repeal Prohibition events to help us celebrate.

So what is it about the 21st Amendment that makes it so special for us that we took the name? Of course there is the obvious: the 21st Amendment made brewing beer legal again, and we really like to brew beer. But there is a more important philosophy behind the name. A philosophy about how good, hand-crafted beer plus fresh, quality food and a welcoming atmosphere bring people together and make a neighborhood great.

You see, around the turn of the 20th century, in the year 1900, there were thousands of small breweries operating across America. When we were researching old San Francisco breweries (trying to find a cool name for our new brewery), we found some good ones, like the Phoenix Brewery, the United States Brewery, the North Star Brewery and the Blue and Gold Brewery. In fact we ended up naming a lot of our beers for these great old breweries - try our North Star Red, for instance. But what really made an impact was the discovery that there were about 40 breweries operating just within the city limits of San Francisco in 1900. By comparison, though the city's population is more than double what it was in 1900, today there are eight local breweries.  We realized that the brewery captured the essence of the neighborhoods of San Francisco. They were the local gathering places. Places to exchange ideas, debate politics and philosophy. Places for families to come together on weekends. Places that provided something unique: hand crafted beer that was different at every brewery and that defined the taste of a neighborhood.

In 1920, Prohibition wiped out this culture and put the “local” out of business. For 13 years, social interaction was largely driven underground, to the speakeasies, where regular citizens became a nation of outlaws.

But with the passage of the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition, we, as a society, were able to begin the slow climb back to reclaiming the essence of the neighborhood gathering place. At the 21st Amendment, we celebrate the culture of the great breweries of old, making unique, hand crafted beers, great food, and providing a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere that invites conversation, interaction and a sense of community.

Coming soon:

Part 2: Prohibition, the Great Experiment. How could this happen? 

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