Utah Goes Dry

Becker Brewing and Malting Company Correspondence with Utah Attorney General Dan B. Shields, 1917
 Becker Brewing and Malting Company correspondence with Utah Attorney General Dan B. Shields concerning Utah’s new Prohibtion laws, 1917 [Click image to enlarge; click it again to browse all pages.]
(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives, CAINEMSS31 Series 03, Box 001, Folder 52)

At the outset of the twentieth century, a massive push to curtail the consumption of alcohol swept the nation. Utah, like many other states, adopted their own laws to address this issue several years before the enactment of the National Prohibition Act (also known as the Volstead Act), which banned the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcohol nationwide in 1920. The growing support for local and national Prohibition, as the movement became known, had many in the brewing industry worried, including the Beckers.

The Becker’s first brushes with prohibition came in 1909, and then again in 1915, when the Utah Legislature approved several bills outlawing liquor. Fortunately for the brewers, Utah’s third governor, William Spry, vetoed both of these bills. In 1917, however, the dry forces in Utah finally triumphed when Utah’s fourth governor, Simon Bamberger, signed the Young Bill into law. The Young Bill officially outlawed the consumption, sale, and manufacture of any beverage containing more than one half of one percent alcohol in the state of Utah, effective August 1, 1917. But thanks to the early scares of 1909 and 1915, the Beckers were ready. They had made plans to continue their business in the event that Prohibition became a reality.