A Quick Look at the History of Craft Brewing in the US

For many people, the rise of craft beer in the US is a recent thing. For those long accustomed to the offerings from major breweries like Anheuser-Busch and the like, craft beer might seem like a new novelty. It’s not. Craft beer actually has a pretty lengthy history here in the States, dating all the way back to before Colonial times. Here’s a quick look at some of the country’s beer history to give you an idea of just how rich our brewing heritage really is.

Beer Predated the Colonies

One surprising fact that many people don’t know is that beer was actually being brewed in the US before the first European settlers set foot on the North American continent. Quite a few Native American tribes had special concoctions that used maize (corn), sap from the birch tree and water to make a primitive form of beer. 

The Colonial Times

An interesting fact about American history is that the Pilgrims decided to land at Plymouth Rock not because that was their destination, but because they were running low on beer aboard the ship. From that point on, brewing was a major part of the budding nation. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (and most of the other Founding Fathers) were also big fans of beer (mostly ale) and most of them also brewed their own. Both Jefferson and Washington have had their personal beer recipes revived recently. 

Breweries opened up all around the nation. New York supplied most of the nation’s hops needs and the state also became a major center for brewing. Of course, there were hundreds of breweries scattered all over the growing country.

Prohibition Fails to Kill Brewing

Prohibition was a dark period in American history for beer lovers. It lasted for quite some time (14 years) and during that time you had to go to great lengths if you wanted to enjoy a cold brew. However, it failed to kill the love for beer and brewing that has always been part of the American culture.

The Repeal of Prohibition and the Future

With the repeal of Prohibition, beer was once again available to Americans. The growth after Prohibition was slow going though. It took quite some time to make up for those years when beer was an illegal substance. Things are looking better now. Currently, there are almost 2,000 craft breweries in the country, with more starting every day.

Posted on June 10, 2011 .