9 Fascinating Facts About Prohibition

Can you imagine a world without beer? We sure can’t.

Not only would us wonderful folks at Hop & Wine not have jobs, but what other frothy, frosty concoction would keep us as warm as beer on blustery fall afternoons at FedEx Field? What other than a Port City Porter could quench our thirst after a long day’s work at the office? These questions don’t deign a response, and why? Because thankfully we’ll never have to find out.

And for that, we say to the millions of Americans who suffered through thirteen long, dry years; through the twentieth century Prohibition era, this craft brew’s for you!

  1. Never ever was it illegal to drink alcohol. That’s right. Prohibition outlawed the making, selling, and shipping of alcohol — but never the drinking of alcohol. (I’ll bet somebody, somewhere had a stockpile. Party at John Boy’s!)
  2. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was largely responsible for the passage of the 18th Amendment. In one iconic photo, the organization of Christian women is pictured with a sign that reads, “Lips that touch liquor shall not touch ours.” It was, according to the WCTU, “scientific fact” that the majority of beer drinkers die from edema. Sorry, ladies.
  3. Ever wondered why a speakeasy’s called a speakeasy? That’s easy. These popular drinkers’ havens were, of course, illegal during the days of Prohibition, and to gain entry, one had to whisper a code word (or, speak easy) through a locked door.
  4. There were an estimated 30,000 speakeasies in New York City alone! 
  5. We have Prohibition to thank for the luxury cruise. Before the 1920s, ships were used primarily for transatlantic crossings, but somewhere along the way, someone had a bright idea: Sell tickets; board at the docks; cruise into international waters, and sell beer!
  6. In 1927 alone, Al Capone is reported to have made more than $60 million in alcohol sales. (He also had half of NYC’s police force on his payroll, but that’s another story for another time.)
  7. Supporters of the 18th Amendment even tried to have the Bible rewritten to remove all references to alcohol. Jesus turned water into… cola?
  8. The 21st Amendment was ratified on December 5, 1933. To this very day, the 18th Amendment is the only (of 27) to have been repealed by another. Prohibition ended on this Repeal Day.
  9. What did President Roosevelt have to say? “What America needs now is a drink.”

Sir, we couldn’t agree more.