"I think this would be a good time for a beer."
That's what President Franklin D. Roosevelt apparently said after signing the Cullen-Harrison Act into law in March 1933. The act, which passed several months before Prohibition was repealed, legalized the sale of 3.2 percent beer in the United States starting on April 7, 1933.
That day marked the first time in 13 years people in the U.S. could drink a beer (albeit a low-alcohol one) legally. And that's why April 7 is celebrated as National Beer Day.
Here's a news reel from around the time the Cullen-Harrison Act was signed into law:
Raise a glass to Roosevelt
You can thank President Roosevelt for the beer you're drinking.
When he was elected in November 1932, he and his new Congress set out to repeal the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol, the National Constitution Center says.
But repealing the amendment was going to take awhile. So as a compromise, Roosevelt and Congress enacted the Cullen-Harrison Act. It allowed people to drink a beer or have a glass of wine legally until enough states ratified the 21st Amendment, which as any good drinker knows is the amendment that legalized all forms of booze.
Plus, Roosevelt said it would help pull the country out of the Great Depression thanks to brewery jobs and added tax revenue.
Over the course of 1933, states voted to ratify the 21st Amendment (Minnesota did on Oct. 10, 1933), and by Dec. 5, 1933, people could legally drink booze in the United States again.
The ratification of the amendment made the Cullen-Harrison Act void, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate it.
Brewery growth since 1933
In the years leading up to prohibition, there were thousands of breweries in the United States – and several in Minnesota.
But they all had to "shutdown" during the 13 years of Prohibition, with some surviving by making near-beer and pop, among other things. This allowed them to open right up again when Prohibition was repealed.
And Roosevelt was right, it is a boost for the economy. In 2014, the Brewer's Association says small and independent craft brewers contributed $55.7 billion to the U.S. economy, and provided more than 424,000 jobs (including more than 115,000 jobs at breweries and brewpubs).
In Minnesota, breweries contributed $1,324,248,000 to the state economy in 2014, and the local beer industry employed 8,266 full-time employees that year.