In America of the 18th and 19th centuries, beer styles were diverse, flavorful and robust. George Washington crafted a black porter from molasses in his own small brewery at Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson produced an aromatic beer flavored with spruce and berries, and America housed thousands of small breweries and taverns. U.S. citizens loved hearty, Old World styles of lager and ale — beers colorful, varied, zestful and rich enough to delight the senses and sustain the body and soul.
Then came the dark days of Prohibition. Breweries closed across America, putting thousands of people out of work and leaving beer lovers depressed and dry. Following the repeal of Prohibition, only a handful of breweries reopened. Later, World War II caused a shortage of metal for brewing equipment, and barley rationing forced the handful of American breweries to manufacture only very light beers with cheap ingredients such as corn and rice.
Light, yellow, fizzy, watery, virtually flavorless lager beers dominated the American market from 1950 through much of the 1980s. Americans had lost their taste for flavorful, robust beer styles.
This all changed in the 1990s, when an American craft beer movement gained momentum and created a brewing renaissance in our country. The number of American breweries shot from seven in 1970 to close to 2,000 today, and Americans are once again purchasing and appreciating delectable, personable styles of beer.
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