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April 13, 2013

Decline of Prohibition led to return of beer in April 1933

“I think this would be a good time for a beer,” remarked President Franklin D. Roosevelt, when he signed the Cullen-Harrison Act on March 22, 1933. This marked the beginning of the end for Prohibition that year.

The Act became law on April 7, once again allowing the manufacture and sale of what was called “3.2 beer.” From this point, states were readying to ask their voters on whether to repeal the 18th Amendment of the Constitution, or Prohibition, and to ratify the 21st Amendment.

Oneonta and the region were ready for the changes provided by the Cullen-Harrison Act. There were no unusual local events that took place on April 7, unlike in Washington, where Anheuser-BuschInc. sent a team of Clydesdale horses to deliver a case of beer to the White House. On Thursday night, April 6, Oneonta’s Common Council passed an ordinance to establish control over beer in the city. The ordinance provided that all wholesale and retail dealers, including restaurants and hotels had to obtain a temporary license to sell or serve beer. Prices were fixed at $50 for wholesale dealers and $15 for retailers.

The City Clerk’s office was busy on Friday, April 7, as 23 temporary licenses were issued, but as far as the beer itself, “The supply of the new brew was limited throughout the day, and the few places where it was available reported a brisk demand. Only two brewing companies made deliveries here, so far as The Star learned.” Fourteen more licenses were issued on Saturday, as the clerk’s office re-opened.

Since demand was high, it was apparently a good time to get onto the supply side, as it was reported on April 13 that Cobleskill had a new brewery in full operation.

“The plant is not large and its location is in the vicinity of ‘Blackrock’ at the head of North street. Delbert Curtis is the proprietor and brewmaster. His product is called Curtis Special Brew.”

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