Fourth of July: Beer’s Patriotic Connection to the Founding FathersBreaking News
This Independence Day weekend is going to feel very different from any Fourth of July in our lifetimes. Normally, there would be parades, barbecues and beer, topped off by fireworks. This year: No parades. Socially distanced barbecues. And illegal fireworks have been snap, crackle, fizzling for weeks.
But can we talk beer? Those suds are as much a part of our heritage, I’d argue, as apple pie and the red, white and blue. Our founders spent their evenings writing and arguing over the Declaration of Independence, tankard in hand, in the taverns of Philadelphia during the very hot summer of 1776. John Adams and his colleagues spent time at The City Tavern, a then-new popular watering hole just a few blocks from Independence Hall. It burned down in 1834, but was rebuilt in time for the bicentennial in 1976. (The tavern has been shuttered by the pandemic, but plans to reopen when Philadelphia gets the green light.)
There weren’t too many American breweries at the time John Hancock added his autograph to the declaration, but as European brewers emigrated and settled in towns across the new republic, they started breweries. The high point came in 1873, when the national total reached 4,131 breweries. But fewer than 800 breweries managed to reopen after Prohibition was repealed, and the decline continued as companies merged and were acquired. The low point was 1984 with just 44 companies operating 83 brewing facilities.
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