WASHINGTON — The July 4th holiday is just around the corner, meaning that Americans will gather with friends and family to celebrate the birth of our nation and to enjoy the long summer weekend. To mark our nation’s 240th birthday, the Beer Institute–a national trade association for the American brewing industry that represents both large and small brewers as well as importers and industry suppliers–has announced its “Top Ten Facts about July 4th and the beer industry.”
“From being the drink of choice when Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence to its place at our picnics and barbecues this holiday weekend, beer is an important part of American history and our economy,” said Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute. “George Washington ensured revolutionary soldiers had beer as part of their rations, and today beer pours over $250 billion into our nation’s economy. Many Americans will have beer on hand when we gather together as family and friends to celebrate July 4th, and I hope people take time to enjoy the history that goes into every pour of beer and choose to drink responsibly this weekend and throughout the year.”
- Last year Americans spent an estimated $1 billion on beer to celebrate Independence Day, and beer will be served to many of the 64% of Americans of legal drinking age who are planning to attend a cookout of barbecue this weekend.
- Thomas Jefferson was said to have composed the first draft of the Declaration of Independence over a cold draft at the Indian Queen tavern in Philadelphia.
- The first colonial brewery was built in 1632 on Brewers Street in New Amsterdam, now New York City. Today, there are over 5,500 licensed breweries in the United States according to the federal government.
- George Washington was an accomplished brewmaster, and he maintained a private brewery at his home in Mount Vernon.
- During Colonial Times the American brewing industry was so well established that George Washington, Patrick Henry and other patriots argued for a boycott of English beer imports. In fact, the Boston Tea Party almost became the Boston Beer Party.
- As Commander of the Continental Army, George Washington proclaimed that every one of his troops would receive a quart of beer with his daily rations.
- On March 22, 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation allowing people to buy, sell and drink beer containing up to 3.2% alcohol by weight (or 4.05% by volume) in states that had enacted their own law allowing such sales, effectively putting an end to prohibition for beer. The law went into effect on April 7 of that year, and April 7 is now celebrated as National Beer Day.
- In 1862 President Lincoln signed legislation to tax beer to help finance the government during the Civil War. Today, federal, state and local governments collect more than $48.5 billion in tax revenue from the beer industry. That includes business taxes, sales taxes, consumption taxes, and state and federal excise taxes.
- Beer still remains important today as roughly 1.75 million Americans have jobs as a result of the American beer industry, and these jobs are contributing nearly $79 billion in wages and benefits each year to the American economy.
- Last July 4th weekend AAA estimated that about 35.5 million Americans took a trip in a car. We all share the roads, and we all share in the responsibility to keep them safe. The Beer Institute and our member companies urge everyone to drink responsibly this Fourth of July weekend as well as throughout the year.