First Southern State To Prohibit Booze Now Drowning In Craft Beer

Originally published on January 15, 2020 11:56 am

Even before the Civil War, the North Carolina General Assembly was reckoning with prohibition. Women led the charge against drinking mostly through church organizations and behind-the-scenes political advocacy.

The Women’s Christian Temperance Union bemoaned alcohol’s effect on the family before they were swept off the stage by North Carolina’s Anti-Saloon League, which condemned taverns and saloons for their central role in union organizing. The two-part movement pulled the Old North State to prohibit the sale and distribution of alcohol in 1909. Control over distribution in North Carolina both predated and persisted after the national crackdown with Graham County still dry today.

And while the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission maintains its grip on liquor sales across North Carolina, the state is now overflowing with craft breweries. Specialty brewing is believed to bring in more than $2 billion a year in the state and the industry boasts 12,000 employees. With interest in beer making at an all-time high, archivists at the UNC Greensboro Libraries began digging into the history of brewing, going back to 1756. Host Frank Stasio talks with UNC Greensboro archivist and professor Erin Lawrimore about Well Crafted NC and the project’s Hop into History event, a pop-up exhibit centered around local saloons and prohibition on Thursday, Jan. 16 at Oden Brewing Company in Greensboro. Also joining the conversation is Haw River Farmhouse Ales’ Lead Brewer Rebecca Spence who describes the changing chemistry and consumption of beer across the state.


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