Brewing Up Some History for #NationalBeerDay

By Sara Beth Joren, Senior Publicist
April 6, 2018

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, legalizing the sale of beer with a (relatively low) alcohol content of 3.2%, he remarked to the crowd, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.” As the legislation went into effect April 7, 1933, scores of Americans hopped to their local brewery to get their first legal brews in thirteen years. Some seventy years later, National Beer Day—slightly less formal than the 21st Amendment—was created and is now celebrated every April 7. To help you commemorate the day, we’ve poured through our Digital Collections to find some frothy content that’ll be sure to put a smile on your mug. 

Published in 1933, Quiet Drinking promises to provide a roadmap of beer (and other assorted alcoholic beverages) and what foods to pair with it. Its binding happens to be “liquor-proof” as well—within reason, of course. 

Quiet Drinking Book Cover

Print out these song lyrics from 1898 and lead your friends in a rousing rendition of “Stein Song: When Good Fellows Get Together.” 

Stein Song music lyrics

While it might be a bitter pil(sner) for a craft beer fan to swallow, in 1934, having a case of PBR on hand was sure to make your soirée a hit. 

PBR advertisement

Beer festivals in New York City are nothing new. Check out this menu for the Wine and Food Society of New York’s Beer Tasting held at the Waldorf-Astoria in 1942. 

Beer tasting menu
Beer tasting menu

In this 1772 letter, British Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Sutherland wrote to Richard Penn to ensure his troops would get their well-deserved beer allowance.

1772 handwritten letter
1772 handwritten letter

​At the 1939 World’s Fair, held in New York,  G. Freeman Pollock showed off his impressive beer stein collection—the largest collection known to exist in the world at that time. 

Wall of beer steins

Need some new wall art? Just print out this beer poster from the late nineteenth century! 

Beer advertisement

And finally, maybe your revelry will echo a German Beer Garden in 1859—just remember to refrain from standing on any chairs or tables. 

1859 sketch of a beer garden

Additionally, The New York Public Library has helped flavor the beer scene in many ways. Blue Point Brewing, Yards Brewing, and Coney Island Brewing all produced beers from George Washington’s recipes, which can be found in our collections. Prior to starting the brewery, Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, researched the beer industry at the Library