As we celebrate American Craft Beer Week, we can look back at a rich history in this country -- right from the very beginning -- of having access to some of the greatest home-grown beers in the world. In fact, prior the birth of our nation, Native Americans even mixed a brew believed to include maize, birch sap and water.
The Founding Fathers, too, were known to enjoy a strong ale. If you search "Ben Franklin" and "Beer" you stumble into a robust online debate about whether or not this iconic American figure ever said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Lots of folks quote him this way, though nobody's ever been able to source the quote. Either way, great beer is certainly an American tradition.
However, the nation did detour for a time, when -- after alcohol industry excesses and a plague of overconsumption -- the federal government overstepped its bounds with the failed experiment that was Prohibition. In 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banned production and consumption of beer, wine and liquor for all. The result was to drive drinking underground, where crime rates and gangsters flourished (if you've seen HBO's program, Boardwalk Empire, you get the gist). With the enactment of the 21st Amendment in 1933, Prohibition was repealed, and Congress gave the states clear responsibility for laws related to the distribution and sale of alcohol within their respective borders (alcohol is the only consumer product to have not just one, but two related constitutional amendments). This state-based system works well today, balancing out a regulated marketplace, commonsense controls (ID checks, anti-drunk driving laws, etc.), while also offering incredible consumer choice to the vast majority of responsible citizens that simply want to enjoy their favorite beer, wine or cocktail.
As for the growth of the craft beer industry, here too is a great American success story. The United States is blessed with an entrepreneurial culture that's created a vibrant and growing mix of more than 1,700 craft breweries coast-to-coast. America's beer distributors are proud to serve as partners with craft brewers and to work with them to make available the greatest choice and variety of beer in the world. Beer distributors take great pride in the promotion and delivery to market for these brands, while offering unmatched variety and value to beer lovers everywhere.
American Craft Beer Week is a great opportunity to recognize the unparalleled number of styles, varieties and flavors of beer -- nearly 13,000 different labels -- available in the U.S. marketplace today. This diversity is due in large part to the effectiveness of the American system of state-based alcohol regulation which provides assistance to brewers working to get established and grow -- continuing the tradition of great beer, made in America.
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