As we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, we should all raise a glass to Utah, which, on Dec. 5, 1933, became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution. The vote of the Utah Legislature provided the three-fourths majority needed to put an end to our nation's 13-year dry spell.
The rest, as they say, is history. And what an impressive history it has been. The 21st Amendment not only overturned the terrible experiment known as Prohibition, but marked a new beginning for the beer industry.
Today across the state of Utah, the beer industry employees more 10,630 residents and contributes more than $1 billion in activity to the state's economy.
The industry's impact is felt beyond the borders of the Beehive State. From factory workers to farm hands, from brewers to bartenders, beer puts America to work. The supply chain supports more than 350,000 jobs, paying out $19.8 billion in wages. The industry also generates nearly $49 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue â more than its fair share.
It is a success story that didn't happen overnight. It's been decades in the making. Chief among the legacies of Prohibition is the alcohol regulatory system that manages the three tiers of brewers, distributors and retailers. The three-tier system is an efficient balance of control between the federal and state levels, and among the industry tiers of production, distribution and sale. This system means a healthy, orderly and lawful marketplace for consumers.
But, as we all know, the most significant factor in the sustained success of any industry is the integrity of its product. Beer has established itself as the choice drink of Americans, and for good reason. Beer is made of wholesome ingredients, like barley, hops, yeast and local water. It is also the moderate choice. Not only is the alcohol content of a beer "fixed," so is the typical package size, giving consumers greater control and more opportunity to drink responsibly.
Just as important a legacy as the repeal of Prohibition is the brewing industry's commitment to responsibility. Beer Institute members have invested in hundreds of programs and initiatives to support public safety, education and alcohol-abuse prevention, including those aimed at combating underage drinking and drunken driving. Members of the Beer Institute also adhere to a rigorous advertising and marketing code that is a model of responsibility for other industries.
It is reported that upon signing the 21st Amendment into law, President Franklin Roosevelt said, "Now is a good time for a beer."
On the anniversary of Prohibition's repeal, join us in commemorating the important role Utah played in changing history and in celebrating an industry that has a strong record of growth and responsible community involvement and a product that, quite simply, is in a league of its own.
Joe McClain is president of the Beer Institute, a trade association of brewers.