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The Man keeping beer down: A time line



10,000-ish B.C.: The earliest known beer jugs are produced.

10,000-ish B.C.: The earliest known hangover is produced.

1780 B.C.: The Code of Hammurabi is written in ancient Babylon, and is considered the first written code of law. It declares that if a priestess drinks in a tavern, the punishment is death by burning.

1606 A.D.: The English Parliament under King James passes "The Act to Repress the Odious and Loathsome Sin of Drunkenness" to discourage public drunkenness. 2008 marks the 402nd consecutive year the law hasn't worked.

1600s: The so-called drunkard's cloak is first used as punishment for public drunkenness. Drunks are forced to don a barrel and wander through town while the villagers (probably drunk themselves) jeer at them.

1619: Virginia passes the first anti-drunkenness laws in colonial America.

1636: Puritan-founded Massachusetts forbids drunkenness in the home, as intoxication makes it more difficult to locate and burn witches.

1826: Maine bans the sale of alcohol on an election day, described at the time as "occasions of great drunkenness and disturbance."

1851: Order of Good Templars, an organization dedicated to temperance, is formed in Utica, N.Y., coincidentally, home of the state's oldest brewery.

1851: Maine bans the sale of alcohol.

1855: Mainers riot in protest of the ban. Intimidated by a citizenry capable of rioting while sober, the government repeals the ban the following year.

1855: Chicago sees its first civil disturbance with the Beer Riots, which result in one death and 60 arrests. Rioters are opposing newly hiked liquor license fees. Pretzel- and peanut-related violence follows.

1874: Women's Christian Temperance Union is founded in Cleveland. The group's signature tactic, sending groups of Bible-swinging women to accost bar-goers, costs saloon owners thousands of dollars and kills countless buzzes.

1881: Kansas outlaws the sale of alcohol. Booze will not be sold in Kansas again until

1948, and on-premises sales of alcohol are not allowed until 1987. But THEY have Sunday sales, and have since 2005.

1893: Anti-Saloon League is established, which ultimately proves to be the single most important force in bringing about Prohibition.

1913: Thousands of tightwads march on Washington, D.C., to present Congress with petitions calling for a constitutional amendment for Prohibition.

1914-1918: During World War I, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George is tempted to outlaw alcohol entirely, but fears a backlash. Instead, he introduces laws reducing the strength of beer, banning the buying of rounds in pubs and restricting pubs' opening hours. George died in 1945 and was reincarnated the following year as Sonny Perdue.

1919: On Jan. 16, Nebraska becomes the required 36th state to ratify the 18th amendment. Prohibition begins exactly one year later.

1919: Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor, leads thousands in a march on Washington to demand the exemption of beer from Prohibition laws. Gompers points out that the 18th amendment represents the first instance in American history where the Constitution actually denies rights, instead of granting them. In March of 1919, a soldier transport ship arrives in New York harbor with its troops chanting, "We want beer!"

1920: Prohibition takes effect. Sales of miniature cocktail umbrellas plummets in the United States, while the paper bag and breath mint industries see record growth.

1929: According to the Prohibition Bureau, 22 million barrels of home brew are being made illegally every year, nearly the same amount of legal beer sold pre-Prohibition. Sewers are choked with spent hops, to the point where they barely function in some cities. In New York City, about 32,000 illegal speakeasies are operating, compared with half that number of legal saloons before Prohibition.

1932: New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker organizes a pro-beer parade on May 14, drawing an estimated 100,000 people.

1933: Newly elected Franklin D. Roosevelt sends a directive to Congress to deal with the issue of beer. The result is an amended Volstead Act, which allows beverages to contain 3.2 percent alcohol by volume. Prohibition is still in effect for other beverages, but beer is back.

April 6, 1933: New Beer's Eve.

April 7, 1933: At 12:01 a.m., breweries around the country begin production. In Milwaukee, 50,000 drinkers anxious for their first taste of legal beer wait outside the breweries. Americans drink an estimated 1.5 million barrels within the first 24 hours of beer's legalization. The holiday is still celebrated today, although it has been renamed Spring Break.

1934: After the repeal of Prohibition, Virginia passes a law prohibiting those licensed to sell alcoholic beverages from mixing wine or beer with other alcoholic beverages, making sangria illegal. The law still stands. (Recently, the owner of a Spanish restaurant was fined $2,000 for serving sangria, although he avoided the yearlong jail term that's stipulated in the law).

1940s: California makes it illegal to serve alcohol to a gay person. Sales of ferns plummet.

1966: Mississippi, the last dry state, changes its laws to allow for "local option", meaning individual counties can choose to serve and sell alcohol. "Nothing caps off a long day of being racist and backward than an ice-cold beer," says one legislator who supports the bill.

1992: Scientists at Pabst brewery discover that ironic T-shirts and trucker caps enhance the taste of PBR.

2004: In Georgia, the maximum allowed beer alcohol content is raised from 6 to 14 percent. Beer snobs and teenagers excited at the prospect of paying $9 for a high-end Belgian way to get fucked up rejoice.

2008: In Georgia, the three-tier distribution system continues to hamper the business practices of small breweries. Neighborhood markets are still fighting for the right to sell beer and wine. And the Sunday sales law still stands after legislators once again pussy out of allowing Georgians to decide for themselves whether they want Sunday sales in their communities.


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