Jimmy Carter's Important Role In The Craft Beer Industry's Rise

Former President Jimmy Carter is known for many accomplishments, including building homes for Habitat for Humanity, brokering a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, advocating for human rights, and winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. What may not be as widely known is that America's 39th president helped the craft beer industry succeed in the United States. 

Carter, who served as president for one term from 1977 to 1981, said he did not drink alcohol during his presidential campaign. (In fact, he didn't even allow hard liquor to be kept in the White House.) This was not the standard for previous presidents who were known homebrewers, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. However, brewing beer at home became illegal in all 50 states during and after Prohibition. 

With Carter's reputation as a man who did not imbibe often, it may come as a surprise that Carter helped America's craft beer industry become reputable during his presidency.

Jimmy Carter signed H.R. 1337 to legalize homebrewing

Homebrewing was illegal in the U.S. for decades, with the government fearing that brewing grain would be used to make potent, sometimes dangerous, moonshine versus beer. For those who continued to make beer at home despite the regulations, they hoped to have it legitimized, and in 1976 they approached California Senator Alan Cranston. The senator worked to get the measure passed and incorporated the craft brewing legislation into a transportation bill (H.R. 1337). In 1978, it got to President Carter's desk. 

The president signed the bill, making homebrewing legal in the U.S. without federal taxation. With the bill passed, those interested in experimenting with homebrewing felt empowered. According to the Brewers Association, it's estimated that there were 1.1 million homebrewers in 2017. The bill also spurred the creation of small breweries nationwide, reaching about 9,118 in operation in 2021 (via Statista).

And to think, without Carter signing H.R. 1337, not only would homebrewers and craft breweries be unable to exercise their freedom – President Barack Obama may not have been able to brew The White House Honey Ale and The White House Honey Porter during his two terms.