That also seems like a silly question, but of course when the temperance movement was in full swing and prohibition might actually happen, it was a question people asked. And the brewers had an answer. This is an ad published in the Cattaraugus Republican on May 3, 1917. The small newspaper served the residents of and around Little Valley, New York, and I suspect the ad appeared in newspapers throughout the state since it was sponsored by the New York State Brewers’ Association.
Initially, brewers were not worried about prohibition because before the U.S. government imposed personal income taxes on all its citizens, a lot of its operating income came from excise taxes and the brewing industry contributed a sizable percentage of the U.S. budget. But once the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913, and everybody began paying income tax, they understandably grew worried. Without their contributions to the government as a bulwark to prohibition, they felt it was much more likely that the prohibitionists could be successful and jumped into action with ads defending their industry and beer itself. It was too little, too late, and as we all know, the 18th Amendment was passed in 1919, just six years after the imposition of income taxes.
But I have to give them points for trying. This particular ad is Talk No. 10 and the bottom of it references that Talk No. 11 will appear the following week, suggesting a series and concerted effort to get their message out. You can find more like this one, both by the New York association and by other state guilds and they all share the theme of trying to persuade consumers not to support temperance efforts and portray beer as a wholesome drink for everyone. Some of their arguments, naturally are better than others, with a few almost laughably thin. But this one I especially like as it just sings the praises of everyday beer drinking. Who could argue with that?
Why Do People Drink Beer?
The reason most people drink beer is because it tastes good. The reason they go on drinking beer is because it continues to do them good.
Beer is an ideal beverage. It quenches the thirst, gives nutriment to the body, and cheers up the spirits.
It is a wholesome food. The term “food” includes anything, either solid or liquid, that restores the waste tissues of the body or supplies heat and energy. The food contents of beer are all wholesome and nutritious. Besides being a food it is a beverage; that is, it not only sustains the body, but it satisfies thirst.
It contains just enough alcohol to refresh the system, sharpen the appetite and produce a general feeling of well being.
Beer is pleasing to all the senses. It is good to look at, its aroma is attractive, its taste is snappy and it is ideally adapted to gratify the cravings of the human body.
Centuries of use have established beer as the ideal drink, giving the maximum of pleasure.