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ROE: A Toast to Pennsylvania’s Beer Industry

As the holiday season approaches, it’s the perfect time to come together with loved ones, share laughter and gratitude, and count our blessings. Indeed, there is no better complement to the joys of being together with friends and family than enjoying a delicious feast. And there is no better way to accompany a memorable meal than with an ice-cold beer.

In Pennsylvania, beer is more than just a beverage. It catalyzes connections and brings people together across our state. The holidays, perhaps more than any other season, embody the essence of the commonwealth’s brewing industry.

Pennsylvania’s beer industry contributes immensely to the state’s vibrancy and economic stability. Employing nearly 88,000 individuals across various sectors, from agriculture to retail to manufacturing, beer helps keep our economy hopping along.

Pennsylvania’s brewing mastery not only keeps the beer glasses clinking but also pours a steady stream of high-paying jobs, serving up over $5.1 billion in wages and benefits for the people of Pennsylvania each year.

This robust employment sector reflects the deep-seated tradition of brewing in the state. Pottsville, Pennsylvania, for instance, boasts America’s oldest brewery, that of D.G. Yuengling & Son.

The economic ripple effect of Pennsylvania’s beer industry extends beyond job creation. It is a pivotal contributor to the state’s fiscal health, pouring in a staggering $2.3 billion in tax revenue. This infusion of funds is crucial to pay our public servants, such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters what they are due. It also helps maintain our infrastructure and support essential public services that ensure the well-being of every Pennsylvanian, including those who choose not to drink.

As we relish the Keystone State’s brewing heritage and the joy a frosty pint brings to our holiday celebrations, we must also remain attentive to the industry’s future. Policymakers in Harrisburg play a pivotal role, and their decisions can help or harm this vital sector.

Our lawmakers must be vigilant, ensuring that any reforms to the state’s alcohol regulatory environment foster growth and innovation—while at the same time preserving the unique character of Pennsylvania brewing. Given the beer industry’s positive impact on our state, the stakes are simply too high for legislators to fall asleep at the wheel.

Our communities depend on a stable regulatory environment rooted in decades of precedent. Altering the tried and true regulatory and tax regime governing alcohol in Pennsylvania must be done with extreme caution to ensure they do not result in unintended consequences.

As we gather with loved ones this holiday season, sharing stories and laughter over meals and glasses of our favorite fall and winter-themed beers, let’s raise a toast to Pennsylvania’s beer industry. Here’s to the jobs it sustains, the economic growth it stimulates, and the communities it fortifies. Let’s celebrate the brewing history in our state and commit to protecting and promoting it for future generations.

Please remember to drink responsibly. “Hoppy” holidays, Pennsylvania!



HOLY COW! HISTORY: Thanksgiving, America’s Original Beer Bash

A holiday question persists year after year, probably stretching all the way back to the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621. “What are we going to do with all the uneaten turkey?”

(For a full range of post-Thanksgiving turkey menu options, turn to Ralphie’s gastronomical rant at the end of “A Christmas Story.”)

The Pilgrims, on the other hand, could have asked a different question after that first celebration exactly 400 years ago: “What are we going to do with all the empty kegs?”

Because the Pilgrims drank beer with their big meal. Lots and lots of beer, in fact.

It’s one tradition that somehow didn’t get passed down over the years. Which is why nobody ever says while gathered around Aunt Margaret’s elegantly appointed Thanksgiving table, “Pass the Pabst Blue Ribbon, will you?”

But trust me, beer was there in 1621.

In fact, beer was the reason the Pilgrims set foot in Massachusetts in the first place.

After two months at sea, the travelers were facing several pressing problems. First, despite having originally set out for the Virginia Colony, they were way off course. The trip had lasted much longer than expected. But worst of all, they were running low on beer. Dangerously low.

Each person was issued roughly one gallon of suds every day. And although the journey was a one-way trip for the Pilgrims, Captain Christopher Jones and the Mayflower’s crew would have to recross the Atlantic to get home, and he worried there wouldn’t be enough to last.

William Bradford was growing anxious about the dwindling beer supply. That was why the group ultimately decided to drop anchor and set foot on Cape Cod. You know the story from there.

Let’s face it: Though they are key players in tale of America’s founding, Pilgrims weren’t exactly party animals. “Fun” is a word rarely associated with them. Then why did they drink so much of a beverage far more likely to be consumed at a frat party or biker rally than at a Baptist convention?

Because beer was how they stayed hydrated. The water carried onboard the Mayflower quickly grew brackish and turned into a health hazard. The brewing process killed dangerous organisms and made the water in beer safe to drink. Even when the Pilgrims finally came ashore in Massachusetts, they had to be very careful with the water they found there. Remember, there were no water departments back then to purify drinking water. Brewing it was their safest bet.

In fact, there’s a theory of human history that the discovery of distilled spirits — heavy on calories, light on dangerous microorganisms — was key to the development of modern society. Forget Homo Sapien. We should be honoring Homer Simpson.

And make no mistake—the Pilgrims weren’t popping open bottles of O’Doul’s non-acholic beer. The brewskis they downed (even the kids) contained six percent alcohol. It was the real McCoy.

As Puritanism spread throughout New England and safe water sources were discovered, beer consumption gradually fell out of favor. Since early preachers associated it with sin, it wouldn’t do to perpetuate its legacy during the annual fall feast. Beer was quietly erased from the menu of the first Thanksgiving.

Quite a few other items that were served in 1621 aren’t consumed at today’s Thanksgiving dinner as well. Not many Americans stuff themselves with venison, cabbage, peas, wild onions, or boiled cornmeal. All were likely served that first time along with grapes, gooseberries, and plums.

We also know the very first Thanksgiving lasted three days. The ample beer supply explains that.

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