Happy Belated New Beer’s Eve

H.L. Mencken enjoys an Arrow beer at the Hotel Rennert in 1933, after Prohibition was repealed. Sydney Levyne, H.L. Mencken, Francis Jencks, McGill James, Hamilton Owens (L to R). ( Frank Miller / Baltimore Sun Photo )

By Frederick N. Rasmussen (The Baltimore Sun, 4/13/2009)

Thirty-three days after taking office, Congress fulfilled one of FDR’s campaign promises when the “wets” passed the Cullen-Harrison Act, which raised the alcohol allowed in “near beer” from 0.5 percent to 3.2 percent.

Maryland’s legislature wasted no time in taking advantage of the new law.

During its 1933 session, the legislature authorized the sale of beer in all counties except Caroline, Carroll and Garrett, “in each of which the same was made subject to a referendum,” according to the 1934 Maryland Manual.

On Thursday, April 6, 1933, which had been dubbed “New Beer’s Eve,” eager crowds gathered all over downtown Baltimore waiting for the moment when the hands of the clock crossed over to 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time – the exact moment when the Cullen-Harrison Act allowed the legal sale and consumption of beer in 19 states and the District of Columbia…

“Baltimore last night gave beer a gay and noisy welcome,” reported The Sun in its editions of April 7. “The downtown section was a Mardi Gras. Hundreds of horns, whistles, guns and small cannon shrieked and roared while the hands of `Big Sam’ — the City Hall clock — crept past midnight.”

At the appointed hour, whistles blew, and 100 beer trucks took to city streets in five minutes to deliver their cargoes of brew to slake the thirst of the faithful, The Sun reported.

Continue reading “Happy Belated New Beer’s Eve” at The Baltimore Sun.

This entry was posted in 1930s, Beer, H.L. Mencken, Vices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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