December 5, 2012

Happy Repeal Day. Practice Civic DisoBEERdience.

Today marks the 79th Anniversary of the repeal of National Prohibition. On December 5, 1933 FDR signed an amendment to the Volstead Act which officially ratified the 21st Amendment. The Cullen-Harrison Act had already allowed for, "New Deal" Beer to be brewed at 3.2%.

Prohibition had a profound impact on the country. During Prohibition, the nation experienced a rise in organized crime, a three-fold increase in consumption by those who continued to drink. It effectively crippled an important industry that created jobs in a number of supporting sectors--transportation, packaging, agriculture and manufacturing to name a few. The demonization of alcohol created a society of hypocrisy and undermined the rule of law.

Arizona had statewide prohibition on January 1 1915, a full 5 years before National Prohibition. We are still experiencing the effects of 19 years of failed public policy enacted 84 years ago. Our growing craft beer industry faces some of the same struggle that faced breweries in territorial days. Prohibition changed our drinking habits from one of moderation to a culture of binge drinking. We do not include drink with our daily meals as we once did. We confine our drinking to the dark late-night places of the world. Here in the valley, there are still many neo-prohibtionist sentiments. On the topic of the growing Mesa entertainment district, one elected official's wrongheaded belief:

Earl Taylor Jr., principal at the downtown Heritage Academy, and Jared Taylor, the school’s business manager, were the only speakers in opposition, saying students safety  could be compromised by downtown bars.
Jared Taylor was elected this month to the Gilbert Town Council with strong backing from “tea party” factions of the Republican Party. Earl Taylor called liquor “the Number 1 enemy of strong characters and the Number 1 cause of the deterioration of the family.”
While there is no official celebration of the anniversary of Repeal Day that I'm aware of, I ask you to consider partaking in an Act of Civic DisoBEERdience. This of course is a play on the practice of Civil Disobedience.

Practice DisoBEERdience. It's not illegal to drink beer during the day on your lunch with a meal and yet on a daily basis I see people flock to brewpubs and breweries and consume iced-tea. I understand that some companies have restrictions on alcohol during the day. Those policies are over-reaching reactionary bunk. We know better. Our beer culture espouses moderate responsible consumption of flavorful beers enjoyed with others and paired with good food.

What about the Civic part of  Civic DisoBEERdience? On Friday and Saturday December 7th and 8th Heritage Square will host the Phoenix Brewers Invitational. The festival is free to attend, but will cost you $10 for a mug. You can buy $1 tickets for 3 ounce pours or combine 3 tickets for a full 12 ounce glass. Tickets are transferable across both days. The Fest kicks off Friday at Noon with a toast by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. Beer is being recognized as an economic driver and place-maker by cities like San Diego, Denver and Chicago. It's time that we join those beer cities. It's time that we salute our local leaders that have the courage to embrace beer. Beer is a source of civic pride and growth.

Come down to Heritage Square for lunch. There will be food trucks. Check out the beer offerings. Remember, it's free to check out. Buy a mug and tickets. Remember you can come back after work and still use them. Go have a beer. Three ounces or more. Root beer if you truly must. But come on down.

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