Dec. 5, 2015, marked the 82nd anniversary of the 21st Amendment. On that date in 1933, Prohibition ended in the U.S. when 36 states ratified the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, repealing the 18th Amendment that began Prohibition in 1920. In recognition of “Repeal Day,” Massachusetts beer distributors highlighted the industry’s growth over the decades and its continued success in the Bay State.
Following the ratification of the 21st Amendment, the United States established a state-based system of alcohol regulation. This system grants the individual state the authority to enact and enforce alcohol laws consistent with the desires and needs of its citizens. Massachusetts continues to flourish within the established system, benefiting both consumers and the industry.
“The Massachusetts beer industry has grown tremendously with the current system, particularly through the partnerships between beer distributors and breweries that have been crucial to today’s proliferation of so many premier brands of craft beer,” said Bill Kelley, president of the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts. “Repeal Day is a good reminder to look back at how the beer industry has evolved to reach its current state of success: vast options for local consumers; access to statewide and regional markets for entrepreneurial breweries; and thousands of industry jobs.”
Massachusetts – and Boston, in particular – has a long history within the brewing industry. The first license for a tavern was obtained in 1634 and may have brewed its own beer – making it a tavern as well as a craft brewery. Because Boston was a large and popular seaport, beer was easily imported from other cities, augmenting the beer being produced in local taverns and breweries. In 1789, beer production in Boston began to grow on a larger scale, due, in part, to the “Act To Encourage The Manufacture and Consumption of Strong Beer, Ale and Other Malt Liquors.” By the 1830s, Boston’s first large-scale brewery found success and had grown beyond the New England Region. While that company eventually went out of business in 1957, it paved the way for Massachusetts to be an integral player within the booming beer industry here in the United States, which it continues to be today. In Massachusetts, the number of breweries went from 45 in 2011 to 61 in 2014. The state ranks 14th in the U.S. in barrels of craft beer produced per year.
“The numbers support what is clear to anyone who walks into a liquor store or drinking establishment in Massachusetts: consumers here have an impressive variety of high-quality options,” said Kelley. “We have a balanced system that allows all craft breweries to grow, which benefits not only these entrepreneurs, but also Massachusetts consumers, Massachusetts jobs and the position of our state as a hub for innovation.”
The 13 members of the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts directly employ over 2,200 individuals in Massachusetts, the majority of which are full time. According to an economic impact study jointly commissioned by the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) and the Beer Institute, over 41,000 jobs in Massachusetts are linked to its strong beer industry, and America’s beer industry contributes more than $5 billion annually to Massachusetts’ economy.
“On Repeal Day, we should all be proud of our state’s role in the growing craft beer industry,” said Kelley. “Massachusetts has been a leader in the craft beer boom, to the benefit of consumers and our economy.”