By Tom Rhodes, 12/3/2014
At Least one of the action of Jimmy Carter can be attributed to ending an monarchy. It was Jimmy Carter’s administration ending the prohibition of home brewed beer, that eventually lead to the rebirth of brewing in the USA. Prior to prohibition there were around 2000 breweries in the USA. In the roaring 20’s that number became zero. Today the number is now over 3000.
The monarchy that has been taken down is none other than the King of Beers, Budweiser. Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that the craft beer craze, (AKA free and open markets), crowded Budweiser out of the top spot and is now down to 7.6% of the beer market, half its market share from a year ago. “Young drinkers aren’t the reason Budweiser volumes have declined in the U.S. for 25 years, from its nearly 50-million-barrel peak in 1988 to 16 million barrels last year. . . . Some 44% of 21- to 27-year-old drinkers today have never tried Budweiser”
OK, once we realized prohibition was a bad idea, we still had an overzealous government. The post-prohibition restrictions made it all but impossible for small breweries to operate. By the late 70’s there were fewer than 100 breweries.
Starting with Carter ending prohibition of home brew, there were a series of Regan initiatives that swept away ridiculous government regulatory burdens that benefitted no one except Big Beer and their taste killing, lowest-common-denominator approach.
The fact is without draconian government regulation that supported big beer, the market has exploded. Free markets always result in the consumer having more choice over a wide range of offerings. When it comes to beer, we now have a vast panoply of beers from which to choose. We now have porters, stouts, porters, lagers, porters, ales, pilsners, porters, bocks, and other variations. Did I mention we can now by a variety of good porters (I may have a preference that bias my reporting). The past decade or so has seen an explosion of craft brew that offers wonderful taste and options that the pale King of Beers, and the taste alike pilsners of the few competitors we had. We now live in the golden age of beer; Thank you Jimmy Carter.
The LPF candidate for Florida Govenor, Adrian Wyllie, did what will probably become a staple in politics. He campaigned from microbreweries all across the state. He didn’t hit them all. Even little villages like Crystal River has its own Winery and Brewery, in fact it’s the first winery and brewery in the same location ever in Florida, Cop Winery. It was a good location for the LPF candidate to visit. That visit and the work of only a few people resulted in little Citrus County returning a large percentage of LPF voting. There are more absurd regulations regarding how beer is made and sold to be removed. But it is self-evident and a historical fact that removing government regulation, revitalized a stagnant market with limited choices for the consumer.
Nothing against Budweiser, it’s a nice traditional pilsner, but when I have a choice of flavorful milk stouts, chocolate porters, and more varieties of American red ale, than I can name, why would a very light pale pilsner, that lacks depth, body, and flavor. America is buying less barrels of beer. The reason is clear, America like me, would rather have one $5 craft porter, than a 6 pack of Bud.
If you’re in Crystal River Florida, check out Cop Brewerey and order a G’Morning coffee stout, and drink a toast to Jimmy Carter, the liberal who opened up the beer market. If you in Ashville NC hoist a Greenman Porter in Carter’s honor. Spend a weekend looking for a CoCo Mole’ a spicy chocolate stout that is worth the search.
Like other monarchies, when the people are free from the “king,” they shed the crony protection and overbearing regulations of the “king,” liberty and freedom brings about a huge benefit to the people. As for me I won’t be helping much with American beer sales, I just bottled 2 cases of my very own porter thanks to the good people at ebrew.com. Free markets and competition, even from making it yourself, might be hard on big corporations, but they are good for We The People.