Counting Down to April 7, the Anniversary of the Return of Legal Beer
April 5, 1933: Meet Jake Ruppert, Master Party Pooper. Ruppert owned one of the nation’s largest brewing companies, Ruppert Brewing located in New York City. (He also owned the New York Yankees. He’s the guy who snatched Babe Ruth from Boston.)
In 1933, Ruppert was president of the United States Brewers Association, the brewing industry’s trade and lobbying organization. And on April 5, 1933, in his role as USBA president, he ordered brewers to hold back on beer deliveries until 6 a.m. on April 7. Not 12:01 a.m., as everyone expected, but 6 a.m.
Never mind that dozens of cities had planned celebrations that would begin before or at midnight. Never mind the big live radio broadcast that would air the first legal “glug" at 12:01. Never mind the airplanes scheduled to depart from several airports at 12:01, loaded with beer for President Roosevelt. Never mind the people camping out at local taverns, ready to grab the first glasses the bartenders passed over the bar.
Never mind all that. Ruppert said no dice. You gotta wait till 6 a.m. Why? Because he feared that midnight beer deliveries would provoke a “carnival" atmosphere, causing merrymakers to lapse into “untoward celebration."
To which August A. “Gus" Busch, Jr. of Anheuser-Busch replied “Huh?" Well, okay, what he actually said was that he could not “imagine" Ruppert issuing such an order without consulting his brother brewers, or the USBA’s vice-president, Rudolph Huber, (who also happened to be VP of Aheuser-Busch). And since Ruppert hadn’t contacted Gus or anyone else at A-B -- well, as far as he, Gus Busch, was concerned, the party was on. He would roll out the barrels at 12:01 a.m. Brewers in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia issued similar announcements.
To which the nation heaved a sigh of relief -- and got back to the business of staking out barstools.
Source: “Jake Ruppert Warns Against Beer ‘Carnival’" in Milwaukee Sentinel, April 6, 1933, p. 3.