Press Release

NBWA Celebrates the 90th Anniversary of the 21st Amendment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – On the 90th anniversary of the national ratification of the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933, the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) is highlighting the important economic contributions of the nation’s beer industry.

“Ninety years ago today, the United States ratified the 21st Amendment, ending prohibition, giving states the authority to regulate alcohol and helping give rise to today’s thriving, safe and competitive alcohol industry,” said Craig Purser, President and CEO of NBWA. “Today, we celebrate 90 years of immense economic growth, a rapid rise in consumer choice and a beer distribution industry that is proud to serve our communities.”

In 1933, states ratified the 21st’ Amendment, leading to the repeal of the 18th Amendment and the national ratification on December 5, 1933. This ended Prohibition and paved the way for state-based alcohol policies, which serve as the foundation for the modern beer industry, permitting a wide range of beverages to make their way onto the market.

Before Prohibition, the production, distribution and sales of alcohol beverages could be controlled by the same entity. This “tied house” system created an unsafe public health environment, as producers and retailers engaged in unfair competition that did not promote moderation. The current three-tier system includes producers, distributors and retailers, that work to carefully balance control and access, allowing alcohol beverages to safely make their way to consumers.

“The three-tier system’s effectively regulated chain of custody keeps consumers safe and promotes competition and variety while ensuring revenue is collected in the form of excise and sales taxes,” said Purser. “As a result, the beer distribution industry provides a critical connection between producers and retailers and directly providing more than 137,000 jobs in all 50 states.”

Thanks to the state-based initiatives unleashed following the 21st Amendment, brewers, beer importers and beer distributors fuel nearly 2.4 million jobs and contribute more than $409 billion to the economy, roughly 1.6% of U.S. GDP (according to a report published biennially by NBWA and the Beer Institute). This includes nearly 78,000 manufacturing jobs, more than 92,000 brewer and beer importing jobs, more than 137,000 distribution jobs and nearly 980,000 retail jobs. Additionally, the report showed beer’s hyper-local impact, detailing that each job in the beer industry generates an average of 30 additional jobs across several other sectors, including farmers, truck drivers and service workers.

To read more about the economic contributions of the beer industry, click HERE.


The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) represents America’s 3,000 independent beer distributors who service every state, congressional district and media market across the country. Licensed at the federal and state levels, beer distributors get bottles, cans, cases and kegs from a brewer or importer to stores, restaurants and other licensed retail accounts through a transparent and accountable regulatory system. Distributors build brands of all sizes – from familiar domestic beers to new startup labels and imports from around the world – and generate enormous consumer choice while supporting more than 140,000 quality jobs in their home communities. Beer distributors work locally to keep communities safe by sponsoring programs to promote responsible consumption, combat drunk driving and reduce underage drinking.