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Industries That Breweries Turned to During Prohibition

Repeal Day is December 5, and to celebrate the thriving craft-beer industry, we’re taking a look at industries breweries took up to stay afloat during Prohibition.

Libby Murphy Dec 5, 2016 - 5 min read

Industries That Breweries Turned to During Prohibition Primary Image

While the craft-beer industry is full of talented up-and-comers, there are a handful of breweries who survived one of the darkest—and supposedly driest—eras in the American brewing industry: Prohibition. The Temperance Movement sought to crack down on all the booze-guzzling heathens, and while pointing at the alcohol industry with one hand and clutching their pearls in the other, they shut the industry down.

Unemployment soared after the breweries closed their doors. To make ends meet, many unemployed brewery employees turned to organized crime to keep food on the table, which, unsurprisingly, kept the underground liquor industry going stronger than ever. And to be clear, it wasn’t illegal to drink the beer (people had time to stockpile beforehand), but it was illegal to manufacture, sell, and distribute it. But with a little ingenuity—and a whole lot of luck—some breweries survived. Many of them are thriving today, and so are some of their Prohibition side projects.

To celebrate Repeal Day (December 5), we want to share seven of the most common industries the breweries turned to.

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