How President Jimmy Carter Ignited The Craft Beer Revolution

, How President Jimmy Carter Ignited The Craft Beer Revolution

(Official portrait, 1978)

The 39th President of the US who is now in hospice will be remembered for a lot of things, but his laying the groundwork for what has become the craft beer industry is a big deal to us.

And this from a man who hardly touched alcohol. It was always Dry January at the Carter White House. So it’s all the more interesting that he is credited with signing in a law that laid the foundation for the craft brewing industry as we know it today.

You see homebrewing was illegal until President Carter signed HR 1337, a law that essentially lifted 50 years of prohibition and allowed Americans to brew beer at home. Countless brewers honed their skills at home before entering the field as professionals.

President Carter signed the HR 1337 into law in 1978. Shortly after, the American Homebrewers Association was founded by Charlie Papazian and Charlie Matzen, and the first issue of Zymurgy magazine published in December of that year.

The original bill wasn’t about home brewing at all, it primarily dealt with things like excise taxes on trucks and busses according to the AHA

, How President Jimmy Carter Ignited The Craft Beer Revolution“It wasn’t until Senator Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) and Representative William Steiger (R-Wis.) introduced Amendment No. 5354 that the motion to legalize homebrewing was added for consideration. This amendment called for fair treatment of homebrewers, which included the ability for adults to brew up to 100 gallons per person, or 200 gallons per household, annually.”

From that point on the AHA advocated for legalization of home brewing in all 50 states, a multi-year effort that ended with Mississippi and Alabama entering the fold in 2013.

“Once homebrewing was made legal it allowed people to really develop their craft and then open these craft breweries that we know today,” Kim Bender, Executive Director DC Brewers Guild, told USA9

“The modern craft beer industry that we know today comes out of this craft knowledge which just could not have been accumulated or really passed down and understood in an illegal environment.”

So raise a glass to Jimmy Carter, the president who seldom drank alcohol, yet paved the way for legions of craft brewers.


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