For National Beer Day, “Connecticut Beer: A History of Nutmeg State Brewing” by Will Siss



Written by Sally Allen

On this day in 1933, the Cullen-Harrison Act went into effect. The act made it legal to brew and sell beer (and wine) whose alcohol content was 3.2% ABV and was the first step in bringing 13 years of Prohibition to an end. The photo gives you an idea of how people felt about this development in our nation’s history.
For this reason, National Beer Day is celebrated annually on April 7.
The holiday made me think of Cyril, one of literature’s great canine characters. Cyril is the dog who lives with Angus Lordie in Alexander McCall Smith’s delicious “44 Scotland Street” series, which I am currently in the process of inhaling. The books feature many scenes of Angus and Cyril at their local pub, Cumberland Arms, where Cyril gets his own bowl of beer.
For books specifically about beer, I turned to local expert James Gribbon, who pens a beer column for CTBites. James suggested checking out the soon-to-be released “Connecticut Beer: A History of Nutmeg State Brewing” by William Siss. Siss writes the "Beer Snob" column for the Waterbury Republican-American and the blog beersnobwrites.com. “Connecticut Beer” will be released on April 27.
About the book: The history of the frothy beverage in Connecticut dates back to early colonists, who used it to quench their thirst in the absence of clean drinking water. So integral was beer to daily life in the colony that government officials and militiamen congregated in taverns like the General Wolfe to talk laws and business over pints of ale. Over the next two centuries, the number of breweries rose and then declined, especially after Prohibition. It was not until the 1980s that homebrewers brought this vital Nutmeg State tradition back to life, hatching the likes of New England and Cottrell Brewing Companies, as well as brewpubs including City Steam and Southport Brewing. More recently, small operations with one or two people, such as Relic and Beer'd, are changing the landscape again. Connecticut beer writer Will Siss introduces readers to the hardworking people who keep the breweries and beer bars inviting and the hoppy history alive.