December 5th is a day of celebration in the beer community, dubbed “Repeal Day”; it marks the repeal of prohibition.
On January 29, 1919 the 18th Amendment to the constitution was ratified, “prohibiting the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purpose.” This new law didn’t go into effect for a year, January 29, 1920. On December 5th 1933 the 21st amendment to the US Constitution was ratified repealing the 18th amendment.
While national prohibition only lasted 13 years, prohibition in Maine was considerably longer. Maine became the first dry state in the country in June of 1851, 69 years before the 18th amendment took effect. These laws were constantly being changed and modified to the point that they were at times pointlessly weak or incredibly stiff. When prohibition was repealed at a federal level individual state prohibition laws stayed in effect. Maine did not immediately amend the state prohibition laws; liquor did not become legal in Maine until July 1, 1934 after the state laws were amended.
Everyone who enjoys alcoholic beverages should raise a glass on December 5th in honor of Repeal Day, and Mainers should remember that July 1st is the anniversary of the states repeal of prohibition that lasted nearly 83 years.
If you are interested in learning more about the History of Brewing in Maine you should pick up Josh Christie’s book “Maine Beer: Brewing in Vacationland” it’s a great read, lots of info and has quickly become a history resource in my collection. Also check out Alex Steed’s interview with Josh Christie.