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This Minnesotan Helped Make Beer Illegal

Today is National Beer Lover’s Day, so in honor of my favorite beverage, I was reminded that one fellow Minnesotan once made beer… illegal!

BeerTap2It’s hard to imagine now, but alcohol– both the making and selling of– was once against the law in the United States. Prohibition took hold back in 1919, and the bill that was enacted into law was sponsored by one Andrew Volstead, a congressman from Minnesota, who was born right in our backyard, in Kenyon, located in Goodhue County.

According to the National Archives, the Volstead Act, or 18th Amendment, would remain on the books for another 14 years, keeping the “manufacture and sale of intoxicating beverages,” including beer and all other forms of alcohol, illegal. It was finally repealed in 1923. Whew! (That was nearly 50 years before I was born, but still… who makes beer illegal?!?)


This historical website notes that while Volstead also served in Minnesota as a lawyer, judge, city attorney, mayor and more, it was Prohibition that would define him. “Prohibition transformed the name of an otherwise obscure legislator from Minnesota into a household word. The name Volstead was cursed by some, praised by others, but known by all,” the site noted.

So, while I’m hoisting a lovely fermented malt beverage later in honor of National Beer Lover’s Day (probably a Surly Xtra-Citra, brewed right here in Minnesota), I’ll pause for a moment to remember the fellow Minnesotan who once helped outlaw one of my favorite things to do– and be glad the act named for him has been tossed on the scrapheap of history!


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