It's being touted as a big one by the beer and liquor lobbies here in Washington, and they're already starting to celebrate. This December 5 is the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. And to get the party going a little early, the National Beer Wholesalers Association hosted us reporters at a luncheon and gave us a tour of a local distributor on Friday. On hand was Wendy Yuengling of the Yuengling family of Pennsylvania, which owns "America's Oldest Brewery."
She told Whispers how her family's business survived Prohibition: "We did three different kinds of 'near beers,' but the sales just weren't there compared to what we were doing prior to Prohibition." In order to stay afloat, Yuengling's great-grandpa opened a dairy across the street in Pottsville, Pa., and invested in things like Broadway shows and New York dance halls. "He really did a lot to make sure that the company would last because nobody knew how long Prohibition would last," she says.
When the 21st Amendment was ratified and Prohibition was effectively over, the Yuengling family shipped a whole truckload of "Winner Beer" to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. "It was a celebration when it was finally repealed," Yuengling says. Today, one of the biggest challenges for the brewery is getting people to say the name correctly. Yuengling is pronounced "ying-ling" and is sold in 12 states and the District of Columbia.
Another challenge the industry is facing is consolidation, she tells us. And when Belgian beer maker InBev takes over Budweiser, Yuengling will become the largest family-owned brewery in the United States. "If we can weather through Prohibition, we can make it through anything," Yuengling says.