Friday, December 19, 2008

Beer and KFOG Radio

I've been lucky enough to be part of a great morning radio show in the Bay Area with the iconic leader at that helm, Dave Morey. For the past 4 years I have been allowed to come into KFOG 104.5 FM and talk about beer, taste beer, take listener calls and a have a great time, all at the 8 AM. Going from being a fan of the show to a semi-regular guest and given the label "the KFOG Morning Show Beer Expert" is an unbelievable experience and a bit heady. Even though I have been on the show many times, I still can't sleep the night before, get a little nervous at first when Dave plays my theme song, which he picked, "Beer for Breakfast" by the Replacements, talking a little too fast at first and having Renee giggle as I shake when I pour the crew tastes of beer. 

Dave Morey has been with KFOG for the past 26 years and is pulling up stakes, retiring and heading to his hometown in Michigan and he lives behind a huge space in the bay area radio music scene. A lot of people of woken up with Dave and his crew and the radio waves will surely be a little quieter after today. Sure he'll still do his incredible radio show 10 at 10, but not to have him in the same area will be noticeable. 

Here is to you Dave, I raise a pint and wish you well. 

-Shaun Beer Dude..ah I mean Beer Guy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Session #22 - The Roundup

Thanks to the Session community for letting Nico and Shaun host this month's Session #22. It was a great experience and the entries were both entertaining and informative: In no particular order, unless you count the order they were received I present "The Session #22: What Does Repeal Mean to Me?"

Lew Bryson of Seen Through a Glass discussed the historical elements and hypocrisy surrounding the backers and enforcement of Prohibition.

Amy from Amy Mittelman Brewing Battles gives an historical account of Prohibition and Repeal and the economic and social impact.

The Beer Nut, wrote about Prohibition in Ireland and how hard it can be to get a decent beer on St. Patrick's Day in Ireland.

Peter of the BetterBeerBlog cherishes that he can drink beer and writes about the historical significance of the Repeal of Prohibition.

Tom of Yours for Good Fermentables discussed how the history of the national repeal of prohibition still left open the possibility of local prohibitions.  

David of  Musings Over a Pint discussed how history can repeat itself, and even in his own backyard, by the neo-prohibitionists and religious backed organizations to once again take away our enjoyment of alcoholic beverages. 

Al of Hop Talk how important the Repeal of Prohibition is to his everyday enjoyment of his passion - Beer. 

Stephen Beaumont's 'grumpy' post on his Canadian perspective on the Repeal of Prohibition.

Chris at Beer Utopia discussed how if it were not for the Repeal of Prohibition we would not have the American Craft Beer movement, nor would we have home brewing. 

Sonnett Beer wrote about how his life might of been different without Repeal with maybe better grades, but at the very least he is now drinking better beer. 

E.S. Delia writes at Relentless Thirst about our culture of alcohol in the United States and how we respond to such issues.

Alan, a Canadian and of A Good Beer Blog brings up the argument -  why are we discussing the 21st Amendment and the transparent tie in with the host blog/brewery? And how Prohibition and the subsequent Repeal had no effect on him.

Rob of PFIFF writes how Prohibition and  subsequent Repeal is a reminder of the power of government. 

Mario of Brewed For Thought writes how a small moral minority can change the direction of a nation. 

Jasmine of Beer at Joe's discusses humorous stories from Prohibition and how people found their drink.

Andy of I'll Have a Beer brings up the point that we have not learned our lessons from Prohibition when we look at the parallel with the United States and international drug prohibition.

Jon of The Brew Site asks the question: where would we be if it weren't for Prohibition?

Marcus of FinalGravity, a pictorial essay of what he can do because of Repeal.

Jay of Brookston Beer Bulletin wrote about how for the past 75 years since the Repeal we have demonized alcohol.

olllllo of the Beer Hack(er) is amazed at how individuals follow their dreams of opening breweries in these archaic post prohibition times.

Captain Hops of Beer Haiku Daily summarizes the history of Prohibition and Repeal in Haiku.

The Scribe of A Mixed Dram is practicing his right to drink! 

Juan of Juan's Home Brewery discusses how with Repeal we have reaped both the good and bad since Prohibition.

Barley Blog writes about how Repeal has afforded him the opportunity to make new friends and share experiences. 

Chipper Dave of Fermentedly Challenged opines on what it would be like if Prohibition were to return.

Dan from Beer-O-Vision gives some great information and links for what Prohibition was like in Buffalo, New York.

The Geist of Geistbear Brewing Blog wrote an account of helping people carry on the tradition of brewing at home all part of our Post-Prohibition society. 

Beerme at Beer and Firkins talked about the absurdity of an Amendment to the US Constitution  that outlawed the consumption of alcohol and how that Amendment effected lifestyles and hobbies.  

Brad at La Petite Brasserie wrote about that without Repeal we would of never seen the growth and innovation in the brewing industry that today gives us an opportunity to drink beer from 1440 craft breweries.

Ray of Bath Tub Brewery discussed how in a representative democracy complacency by the American population can allow for the powerful few to outweigh the needs of the many.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Repealebration Celebration Photos

Rather than write about the parade and party (we're all a little too hung over for that), we thought we'd post some photos. If you were there, thanks for coming! If you missed it, enjoy these photos! (Photos by Anthony Dimaano.)

Front Page News!!!!

Shaun and Nico drink to the 75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition outside the 21st Amendment Brewery.

The parade begins...

Our Grand Marshall, Clara Kalin, arrives.

... and dances!

Yeah - what she said!

Getting in on the act.

Nico dances in the street, again.

We stopped frequently for a song or two.

A toast from the crowd.

 A brief pit stop at a nearby bar.

Back at the 21st Amendment Brewery, and beer... finally!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Session #22 The Repeal of Prohibition

21st Amendment Brewery is thrilled to host The Session in December, and we've chosen a topic that's near and dear to our hearts: the repeal of Prohibition. December 5 is the 75th Anniversary, which brought beer back to the masses.

In 1920, there were thousands of breweries across America making unique, hand-crafted beer. The passage of Prohibition wiped out this great culture. On December 5, 1933, the states ratified the 21st Amendment, repealing the 18th Amendment, thus ending 13 years of Prohibition in America. At the 21st Amendment Brewery, the repeal of Prohibition means we can celebrate the right to brew beer, the freedom to be innovative, and the obligation to have fun.

What does the repeal of Prohibition mean to you? How will you celebrate your right to drink beer?

Here at the 21st Amendment Brewery, the repeal of Prohibition (with the passage of the 21st Amendment) is our national holiday. It is so much more than just the right to brew beer (though we're pretty happy about that part). The repeal of Prohibition was about affirming all that we hold dear as Americans. The right to create, to be entrepreneurial. To be innovative. To choose how to best put to use our own private property.  Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, is the only Constitutional Amendment in our nation's history to take away a right of the people.

Before Prohibition, there were breweries operating in neighborhoods across America. They provided jobs, tax revenue and a local artisanal product that was hand-crafted and couldn't be found anywhere else. Many brewers were German immigrants coming to America to fulfill its promise. Brewers were on the cutting edge of innovation, inventing equipment and systems that benefitted many industries. Brewers were the leading citizens of their communities, providing jobs and spending generously on charities. Breweries were gathering places—not just for drinking but for families and social interaction. The German beer gardens of Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis and New York, to name a few, were famous for their Sunday after-church gatherings where men would enjoy fresh old-world lager and children would play in the grass. The first Continental Congress met in a Philadelphia pub to draft the U.S. Constitution and Thomas Jefferson is said to have written the Declaration of Independence in a tavern over a pint (or several) of ale. George Washington brewed beer. Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin and John Adams and many more of our founding fathers brewed beer.

The brewery embodied everything that America was founded on.  
Independence, creativity, innovation, the right to be original. And Prohibition killed not just the breweries and the beer, but the spirit of America.

At the 21st Amendment Brewery, we celebrate the America that was embodied by the breweries of old. We dare to brew original beer, not just in its uniqueness, but in its spirit. We represent the post-Prohibition journey back to reclaiming the essence of the neighborhood gathering place.

We will celebrate our right to drink beer by marching through the streets of San Francisco, just as they did 75 years ago today. We will celebrate our right to drink beer with a party at the 21st Amendment all day and all night featuring live jazz, our outdoor beer garden and an authentic "speakeasy". We will celebrate by committing to only drink drinking good, local hand-crafted beer made by people, not machines. Will you join us?
Dare to BEER original!

To participate, pen your post on Friday, December 5, 2008, and leave it as a comment here (for quickest results) or email us a link to your post. Stan Heironymous is already waxing nostalgic about prohibition

Next month's Session #23 will be hosted by Brewmiker

Prohibition Part II

The Dark Years

By the early 1930s, Prohibition had been in effect for more than 10 years. The late 1800s had been the golden age for American breweries with close to 4,000 breweries in operation across America. Through the first two decades of the 1900s, the machine gun rat tat tat of the march toward Prohibition mowed down breweries like the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. By 1918 there were about 1,000 breweries left and by the time Prohibition took effect, just two years later, there were half that many.

The remaining breweries survived mostly by making near beer, soft drinks or yeast. For the most part, though, surviving breweries had diversified their holdings and investments prior to Prohibition and they had a cushion of cash. Many of the larger breweries had vast real estate holdings, especially in the form of taverns that they sold off. Anheuser Busch used the refrigerated trucks they had invented for transporting beer to transport ice cream, which they manufactured. Pabst made malt syrup, which was widely purchased in super markets to make homebrew.

Then the crash. In the three years following the great stock market crash of 1929, four thousand banks shut their doors, 100,000 business filed for bankruptcy and eleven million adults lost their jobs. By 1932, there were fewer than two hundred breweries remaining in America and they were fighting for their lives.

A Light at the end of the Tunnel

But there was a light at the end of the tunnel. As the 1920s wore on, the rampant lawlessness spawned by the traffic in illegal booze caused many former supporters of Prohibition to begin to call for repeal. In 1931, the Wickersham Report, commissioned by President Hoover to study the impact of Prohibition, was released. It concluded that the Great Experiment had been a failure and left a nation of drunkenness, crime and outlaws in its wake. Because distilled spirits were so much cheaper to manufacture and especially to transport, people turned to hard liquor like never before. Because the enforcement arm of the Volstead Act (the outline for implementing the 18th Amendment—Prohibition) was woefully understaffed, incompetent and corrupt, people not only resented the law, but they soon learned that the chances of being caught breaking it were slim to none. After the great crash, the calls for repeal became louder, often under the argument that jobs and vast amounts of tax revenue were being lost. In August of 1932, Democratic Presidential nominee Franklin Roosevelt told a crowd that it was time to correct the stupendous mistake that was Prohibition.

We Want Beer!

Getting the required number of states to ratify an amendment to the Constitution would take time. But Congress realized there was something they could do immediately to stop putting alcohol profits and potential taxes into the pockets of the gangsters and instead put them back into government coffers.  The Volstead act had defined an intoxicating beverage as one with an alcohol content of greater than 0.5% alcohol. Congress simply had to modify this definition to get the beer flowing. On March 22, 1933, President Roosevelt signed the modification that legalized 3.2% alcohol beer, and at midnight on April 7th, beer flowed again.

On the evening of April 6th, the line of cars and trucks waiting for fresh, legal beer outside the Anheuser-Busch plant stretched for a mile. At midnight, trucks loaded with beer literally choked the nation’s streets. President Roosevelt was hand delivered the “first case of real beer” by a police escort. Within 48 hours, brewers had infused local, state and federal coffers with $10 million in taxes.

By August of 1933, federal taxes on beer had become the U.S. government’s number three revenue producer (after income tax and cigarette tax). And on December 5, 1933, Utah, that great bastion of alcohol tolerance, ironically became the thirty sixth state needed to ratify the 21st Amendment, and Prohibition was over.

Regaining the Glory

Prohibition dealt a fatal blow to the craft breweries of America. Per Capita beer consumption, despite the population growth, did not reach pre-Prohibition levels until 1970. Virtually all of the small, neighborhood breweries had been wiped out and didn’t begin to reappear until the 1980s. New state laws that differed from state to state made it difficult for small breweries to open and to distribute their beer. A culture had been destroyed.

We opened the 21st Amendment Brewery in 2000 in a historic neighborhood of San Francisco. A neighborhood that had been home to one of the largest breweries on the west coast in the late 1800s (the Philadelphia Brewery on 2nd and Harrison streets). A neighborhood that gave rise to the first indigenous American beer style (Steam Beer). A neighborhood where we could begin the climb back to re-establishing the essence of the local brewery—a place for unique, local, hand-crafted beer, quality food and good conversation.

A special shout out to Maureen Ogle, author of the greatest book on beer, “Ambitious Brew” from which I liberally stole for this post.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


How the heck could this happen?

The Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect on January 16, 1920. It wiped out the beers, the breweries and the culture that had come to define American social life. We look back on the Noble Experiment called Prohibition today and we 

can’t even understand how that could happen. What were people thinking? Well, ironically, things weren’t too different than they are today in a number of ways. Economic turmoil, corporate greed, a widening gap between rich and poor, scandal-filled tabloid headlines, a middle class worried about the direction of the country. Sounds like yesterday’s paper but these were the problems facing American society at the turn of the 20th century.

Over the last few decades of the 1800s, rapid industrialization and unprecedented immigration in America created a country of big cities and booming growth. Lots of reforms were undertaken in the early years of the twentieth century—the eight hour work week, labor unions, child labor laws, minimum wages—but the times also gave rise to many of the ills associated with poor, underpaid, undernourished workers building the infrastructure of America. Prostitution, gambling, and….saloons.

Powerful Women and Sleeping Brewers

There were a number of factors that contributed to Prohibition, but perhaps the most important was the rise of a few powerful, well organized and well funded groups with a single minded purpose—the elimination of

 alcohol. The two most prominent were the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) and the ASL (Anti-saloon League). In the face of a growing and changing society, these groups saw alcohol as the primary factor in the degradation of society—particularly in the cities. And it was true—saloons were everywhere, often four or five on the same block, and many were rowdy, unruly places. Over the course of almost 40 years, beginning in the 1880s, these groups 

worked to affect public opinion, elect local politicians who helped turn their counties dry, and eventually elect Congressmen who supported their cause. Through their efforts, by late 1914, 50% of the America people already lived under total Prohibition.

Another major factor was that brewers were asleep. They didn’t see Prohibition as a significant threat and so they mounted almost no opposition. Taxes collected on beer, wine and spirits (with beer by far the biggest contributor) made up 20-40% of the federal government’s income. The Brewers just assumed that neither the people nor the government would ever be able to give up the revenue.

And then, a different Amendment changed the game. In early 1913, Congress passed the Sixteenth Amendment, introducing the income tax, and suddenly brewers were vulnerable. Alcohol tax revenue was no longer necessary for the government to function.

Game Over

In January 1917, the 65th Congress convened, in which the dries outnumbered the wets by 140 to 64 in the Democratic party and 138 to 62 among Republicans, thanks largely to the efforts of the WCTU and ASL. With America's declaration of war against Germany in April, German-Americans--a major force against prohibition, and many of the prominent brewers of the day--were widely discredited and their protests subsequently ignored.

A resolution calling for an amendment to accomplish nationwide Prohibition was introduced in Congress and passed by both houses in December 1917. On January 16, 1919, the Amendment was ratified by thirty-six of the forty-eight states. Prohibition began on January 16, 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect. And a nation of criminals was born.

Coming Soon:


Monday, December 1, 2008

Repealebration Celebration

December 5 is almost here! Join us in celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition.

Friday, December 5, 4:00 pm REPEALEBRATION CELEBRATION (aka We Want Beer! March) begins at Justin Herman Plaza (1 Market Street) with a full marching band and a gang of revelers in 1930’s garb. Parade ends at 21st Amendment Brewery (563 2nd Street, San Francisco) with a Repeal Prohibition celebration featuring a three-piece jazz band, special menu items, and a password-only speakeasy. Password retrieval instructions are being twittered starting today. Admission is free: 415-369-0900.

Psst! The Password Is...

Want access to the VIP speakeasy at our Dec. 5 Repealebration Celebration? You'll need a password. Lucky for you, it's easy to find. We've posted the password in six "secret" locations around San Francisco. Find the password, and we'll let you in the speakeasy on Dec. 5:

Have fun geohashing!