In honor of NC Beer Month, a look at dates that frame our beer story

The NC Brewers Guild works to make North Carolina a nationwide leader in craft brewing. Here we look at significant events through time that have impacted the beer industry on our state.

Friends drinking beer

  • 1774: Single Brothers Brewery and Distillery opens in Salem. It operates until 1813.
  • 1874: The General Assembly allows townships to vote on prohibiting saloon licenses.
  • 1908: North Carolina becomes the first Southern state to enact statewide prohibition.
  • 1920: Prohibition goes national when the 18th Amendment takes effect.
  • 1933: North Carolina is one of two states that refuse to ratify the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th. It’s signed into law anyway with a quip from President Roosevelt, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”
  • 1935: For the first time in 26 years, legal alcohol is sold in North Carolina.
  • 1936: Georgia-based Atlantic Brewing Co. opens a plant in Charlotte. It enjoys two decades of beer production.
  • 1969: Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. builds the largest brewery of its day in Winston-Salem.
  • The brewery covers 34 acres and has a daily capacity of 17,000 barrels. It closes in 1999.
  • 1978: Miller Brewing opens a brewery in Eden. It produces the first Miller Genuine Draft. It closes 38 years later in 2016.
  • 1983: North Carolina raises the legal drinking age from 18 to 19. It reaches 21 in 1986.
  • 1985: The brewpub era begins with a new state law allowing breweries to sell directly to consumers. Uli Bennewitz, who lobbied for the law, opens Weeping Radish Brewery in Grandy the following year in 1986.
  • 1991: Red Oak Brewery opens, and is now the state’s second-oldest continuously operating microbrewery.
  • 1994: Highland Brewing Company opens in the downtown basement space below Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria, becoming Asheville’s first brewery.
  • 2005: North Carolina “pops the cap.” A new law raises the maximum alcohol content in beer from 6 percent to 14.9 percent.
  • 2009: Asheville begins a winning streak in the Beer City USA poll, either winning outright or tying for the top spot every year.
  • 2011: American Beer Association figures show 59 breweries in North Carolina, more than any other state south of Pennsylvania or east of Texas.
  • 2012: Colorado-based Oskar Blues opens a brewery in Brevard. It’s the first of three major craft breweries with an East Coast expansion in the Asheville area.
  • 2013: With 91 breweries across the state, NC Beer Month is inaugurated in April to celebrate the beer craftsmanship and culture that thrive in dynamic cities, spirited towns and hamlets off the beaten path.
  • 2014: Sierra Nevada opens a brewery in Mills River. The LEED Platinum complex occupies a 200-acre tract on the French Broad River.
  • 2016: New Belgium begins brewing in Asheville. Its 18-acre campus on the French Broad is 11 miles downriver from Sierra Nevada.
  • April 2018: The sixth annual NC Beer Month invites travelers to explore the “State of Southern beer. ” North Carolina is home to over 260 craft breweries in destinations known for fine dining, outdoor adventure and creative culture.


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