National Beer Day is a holiday which is celebrated in the United States on April 7th. This day was established to not only honor the history of beer but also to celebrate the Cullen–Harrison Act – an act which allowed people to buy, sell and drink beer that had 4% alcohol by volume and was signed by FDR in 1933. The day in which it went into effect, over a million and a half barrels of beer were sold. Other countries which celebrate a National Beer Day include Iceland (March 1st) and the United Kingdom (June 15th).
History of National Beer Day
In 1919, the Volstead Act became law and by 1920, the entire United States was subject to Prohibition. This meant that beer, wine and grain liquors had all become illegal. While Prohibition wouldn’t become appealed until December 5th, 1933, U.S citizens received an early break 8 months earlier when Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison act on April 7th, 1933. After he signed the bill, FDR is reported to have said, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.” And many Americans agreed with him because huge groups of people flooded breweries and taverns all over the country. In fact, by the end of that day, over1.5 million gallons of beer ended up being sold. Beer has been enjoyed by Americans ever since.
However, while it became legal to buy, sell and consume beer in 1933, what isn’t clear is why it took 76 years for the day to be marked by a holiday. Yet, that is exactly what happened. It wasn’t until 2009 that National Beer Day was dreamed up by Justin Smith and his friend Mike Connolly.
National Beer Day in Other Countries
In Iceland, Prohibition lasted from 1915 to 1989. In 1908. Icelandic voters voted to ban all alcoholic beverages – a ban which went into effect on January 1st, 1915. Over the years, several parts of the prohibition had been lifted, all except beer. For instance, after the ban went into effect, Spain refused to buy exported fish unless Iceland bought Spanish wine – which led to the lifting of the ban on wines. In 1935, a national referendum was released in favor of the legalization of spirits. Finally, on March 1st, 1989, the ban on beer was ended.
Beer Day in the United Kingdom is somewhat of a new holiday. It was made official in 2015. June 15th was chosen because that is when the Magna Carta was sealed and ale is listed in Clause 35 of that historical document.
National Beer Day Customs & Traditions
All that is really needed to celebrate National Beer Day in the United States is to enjoy one at your local watering holes. Bars, taverns and pubs all over the U.S. participate in this day and they usually have some sort of party or contest around the event. In Iceland, it is common for those participating in this holiday to go on a pub crawl–visiting the many pubs which remain open until 4 in the morning of the next day. In the U.K, it is also customary to visit pubs on this day as well. It is also customary among some people in the United Kingdom to sing “Cheers to beer,” an anthem written by Jane Peyton and dedicated to beer.
Social media has also gotten into the act. On National Beer Day in the U.S., it is common for the hashtag #NationalBeerDay to trend on Twitter. In the U.K., it is common for the hashtag #CheerBeer to trend on June 15th.
For those people who consider them citizens of the world, and have a high tolerance for what has been called liquid bread, celebrating all three holidays may be in order. The Icelandic one can be celebrated on March 1st, the American one on April 7th and the U.K one on June 15th. Sort of an international National Beer Day crawl.