The Holiday Return of Dubuque-Brewed Beer


Dubuque has a long brewing tradition.  Beer was being brewed here years before the city was even formed.  After brewing had been forced underground during the prohibition years, the holidays of 1933 were notable for the return of local beer.

Let there be beer

As the nation was preparing for the repeal of prohibition, many states began allowing legal sale of wine and beer in early April 1933.  Iowa followed much of the nation by a few weeks, making sale of 3.2 percent ABV beer legal on April 26.  Area breweries including The Potosi brewery got the jump on brewing, but breweries in Iowa had to wait for state-issued licenses before the process could begin.


In July 1933, Dubuque Star was the first brewery in Iowa to be issued a license, and production there began as quickly as possible.  As the beer aged at the old brewery on Dubuque's 4th Street Extension, Thanksgiving Day became the brewer's target to distribute the first post-prohibition, commercial Iowa-brewed beer.


Tongues hanging out

Anticipation of the fresh brew continued to build, fueled in part by clever beer marketers.  In a story about a National Recovery Act parade in September, The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported that a Dubuque Star truck loaded with kegs and a Julien Dubuque Brewery float made parade viewers thirsty, but one local retailer's entry had "almost everyone's tongue hanging out."   That seller resurrected an old-time, horse-drawn wagon aboard which men drew beer from a tapped quarter barrel and held up filled steins to the cheers of parade-goers.

Other breweries across the state, including Dubuque's Julien Dubuque Brewing Company and Key City Brewing followed suit as permits were issued, and local beers flowed in abundance before Christmas.  Dubuque taverns (no longer called saloons) advertising 12-ounce draws for 5 cents, began including local beers in their ads as December began.


So as Thanksgiving approaches, cheers to one of the many things we have to be grateful for, legal, professionally brewed American beer!

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