National Beer Day

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On January 16, 1919, Congress ratified the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with the passage of the Volstead Act, or National Prohibition Act, over President Woodrow Wilson's veto. The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of prohibition. On December 31, 1919, the production and distribution of all beer and distilled products across the country ceased and on January 17, 1920, one year and a day after the ratification, prohibition went into effect. Our nation officially became dry and the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes was prohibited. 

At the time of ratification, there were approximately 2,000 breweries operating across the country, which would have been defined by today’s standards as craft and nano-breweries. York City featured 2 breweries: the 4-story Helb Brewery on the northwest corner of Queen & King Streets, and the Karl E Katz’s Brewery. With significant funding, the beer industry mobilized "wet" supporters largely from the Catholic and German Lutheran communities in opposition to the ratification. Their campaign proved unsuccessful as a result, in large part, of the nation's war against Germany and the marginalization of the American-German community.

On January 17, 1920, York went on the wagon with the rest of country. The York Daily newspaper reported that day many of the local hotels and barrooms were giving away beer and liquor to their customers versus destroying the products. 

The end of the Katz brewery quickly followed the beginning of prohibition. Helb, however, retrofitted his iconic Queen & King Street site into a bottling plant as well ice production and continued to operate for another 13 years and 2 months until the newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt, now in the midst of The Great Depression, ratified the 21st Amendment to abolish the Volstead policy. At the time, the new ratification only permitted the brewing of 3.2 percent beer, but, hey, the dry spell was over with distribution and sales beginning on April 7, 1933 marking the anniversary of National Beer Day!

Back home, the Helbs reopened the brewery and continued to produce beer until the late 1940’s, when tractor-trailer and train service with improved pasteurization and refrigeration techniques changed the beer industry throughout the country.

Unfortunately, the effects of prohibition on the beer industry, dispite its abolishment, continued for decades. In the years following the ratification of the 21st Amendment, a mere 300 breweries operated around the country. By the mid-1970’s there were less than 100 with mass-market companies dominating the scene. As America’s tastes turned to craft beer, though, the brewing scene expanded dramatically. There were roughly 1,500 breweries in 2008, and 3,500 by early 2015. By the end of 2016, the number of breweries around the country topped 4,131, which had been the all-time high set back in 1873. Those numbers continue to steadily grow, reaching almost 6,500 breweries in 2017 and 7,346 breweries at the end of 2018.

This craft beer trend is equally reflected in York County, featuring 6 breweries in York City alone and nearly 20 throughout the county giving York County the distinction of most craft breweries per capital in the Mid-Atlantic region.

So, we encourage you to enjoy your favorite York County craft beer this weekend and from the YCAT Crew to all of you, we wish you a Happy National Beer Day!

York City 6 - Volume 1

 
 

On December 21, 2018 I had the pleasure of enjoying the York City Six limited release – Volume 1: Pilsner and supporting the community at the same time. What a perfect combination, right?

This pilsner was crisp and easy drinking with delightful floral notes. I’ll admit that I had a second just to make certain.

The release marks the first collaboration from the six breweries located in the City of York: Mudhook, Liquid Hero, Crystal Ball, Collusion Tap Works, Gift Horse and Old Forge. Although these breweries are all located within an approximate 1 square mile radius, they are not in competition with each other.

According to a York City Six representative, "We all are doing similar things and people ask us if we're competition but we aren't and we wanted to show that we work together and that we wanted to achieve bigger things for the city.”

The pilsner is exclusively sold at each of the six breweries and is only available in draft. The release is very limited in quantity, only one barrel per taproom. So get it now! One dollar from all sales will benefit the York City Police Department.

If you missed Volume One, don’t fret. I’m excited to report that ideas for volume two are already in the works. Each new version in the Volume series will be brewed in a new location, giving the brewers a chance to work on a different system with their team of experienced professionals. Volume One was brewed at the Liquid Hero facility.

You can experience, explore and enjoy these breweries, and others on the York County Ale Trail. So, book your tours today!

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