Homebrewing During Prohibition

pgahistoryMother’s in the kitchen Washing out the jugs; Sister’s in the pantry Bottling the suds; Father’s in the cellar Mixing up the hops; Johnny’s on the front porch Watching for the cops
–Poem by a New York state Rotary Club member during Prohibition

Prohibition accentuated the “home” in homebrewing.

Many American families recount and cherish tales of grandpa’s inept experimental attempts to brew beer in the kitchen and grandma’s gallant efforts to hide the results from Prohibition agents. Although most homebrewers practiced their hobbies with minimal adverse consequences, this homebrewing boom did have a casualty: the reputation of homebrewing.

In an era when intoxicating liquors were illegal, the ingredients to produce them were not. “For so long as the fruits of the orchard, the grain and roots of the field remain, the distiller and home-brewer have an inexhaustible supply of the raw material for producing alcohol. It is a matter of common notoriety that we are becoming a nation of adepts in the making of intoxicants,” wrote John Koren, author of Alcohol and Society, in his essay “Inherent Frailties of Prohibition.”

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