Beer In Our Time

Editor’s note: This piece was published over a decade ago, in the 20th century. A little nugget recovered from the drain…
Whenever I sit down to enjoy a glass of good beer, it’s hard to imagine that this is the same country that outlawed its consumption (at least legally) for 13 years, it is not hard to see some striking parallels with the dangerous fraud costing us $ billions today, the so-called war on drugs.
The forces of bigotry and intolerance were quite active then, as they are now. It was the irascible libertarian newspaperman, H.L. Mencken,  who pointed out that “once we got rid of the camp-meeting rule, we’ll get rid simultaneously of the Klan, the Anti-Saloon League and the Methodist Board of Temperance, Prohibition and Public Morals.”
That was November 1929 and the infamous noble experiment was in full repressive force. Mencken himself witnessed the actions of the police state in returning from Cuba. where custom officials considered “every citizen is a criminal, and so these sad homeowners are subjected to furious and meticulous search.”  Thus. “the snouters in uniform” or “booze ferrets” , “not only demand that every piece of baggage , however small be opened, they also thrust their paws into it magnificently.”
This sounds terribly familiar.
Something worth considering is how important the legislation of beer and spirits played in the election of Franklin Roosevelt as president. As Mencken wrote in The Baltimore Evening Sun of a political rally he attended. “The magical word beer burst out of the loud speaker and the whole house arose to its legs and cheered. This is what the crowd had come for–that and nothing else. Beer in our time. Beer tomorrow. Beer this afternoon. Beer right now.  Get the home brewers out of the cellar by Christmas, before Christmas, at once. Let us have Muncher, Pilsner, Wurzburger, Kulmbacher, even Bauernschmidt’s, Brehm’s, Wiemer’s, Steil’s Goldbran. What this country needs is a good five cent glass of beer.”
H. L. Mencken went on to point out that “Roosevelt named no day, but he let it be known that the wait would be cut as short as possible. There can be no questioned that he was believed. He looked very thirsty himself.”
And so am I… I suddenly have a hankering for Liberty Ale.

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