75th Anniversary Timeline

For 75 years, the National Beer Wholesalers Association has proudly represented the interests of America’s independent beer distributors. Today, America’s 3,300 beer distributors – and their 130,000 employees – are part of an effective system that provides tremendous variety to consumers; generates healthy competition; helps brewers and importers of all sizes grow; and balances a robust marketplace with public safety. Cheers to 75 more great years!

  • Jan. 16, 1920

    18th Amendment and national Prohibition goes into effect.

  • March 22, 1933

    President Franklin Roosevelt signs into law legislation permitting the sale of beer containing no more than 3.2% alcohol.

  • Dec. 5, 1933

    National Prohibition is repealed with the passage of the 21st Amendment.

  • 1933

    The M.S. Statendam transports the first Heineken beer consignment to the United State after Prohibition is lifted. 

  • 1935

    The beer can is introduced, changing the way Americans drank their beer. The G. Krueger Brewing Company of Newark, New Jersey, became the first brewer to market beer in steel cans.

  • 1938

    NBWA is founded in Chicago, Illinois, with Harry J. Krueger as the first NBWA President.

  • 1938

    NBWA is founded in Chicago, Illinois. The first NBWA Convention is also held in Chicago.

  • 1940

    Packaged beer (cans and bottles) outsells draught beer for the first time.

  • 1950

    The blue ribbon is officially removed from around the necks of Pabst Blue Ribbon bottles, but earns a permanent spot on the label.

  • 1953

    Morton W. Coutts develops the technique of continuous fermentation.

  • 1954

    The first l6-ounce can is introduced by Schlitz.

  • 1959

    The aluminum can is introduced by Coors of Golden, Colorado.

  • 1962

    The tab top can is introduced by Pittsburgh Brewing Company.

  • 1965

    The “ring pull” can is introduced.

  • 1975

    Miller launches Miller Lite, the first nationally distributed low-calorie beer.

  • 1978

    NBWA moves its headquarters from Chicago to right outside the nation’s capital in Falls Church, Virginia. NBWA President Gerald Tabenken cut the ribbon.

  • Oct. 14, 1978

    President Jimmy Carter signs a bill that removes restrictions on home beer brewing.

  • 1981

    After introducing the popular Coors Light brand in 1978, Coors answers the growing national demand for its products by distributing east of the Mississippi River for the first time.

  • 1981

    Corona Extra, brewed and bottled in Mexico, is introduced in the United States for the first time.

  • Sept. 17, 1981

    The NBWA PAC is formed under the leadership of Kenny Kerr. 

  • 1982

    The first Great American Beer Festival is held at the Harvest House Hotel in Boulder with 22 breweries, 40 beers and 800 attendees.

  • 1982

    Anheuser-Busch introduces Bud Light nationally, which quickly grows in popularity.

  • June 1982

    NBWA’s Membership Services Committee announces the introduction of a new, confidential Distributor Productivity Report to replace the previous Annual Performance Study.

  • 1983

    Fewer than 50 breweries are in operation across the United States, marking a low point in modern times.

  • April 1985

    Samuel Adams Boston Lager makes its debut in about 25 bars and restaurants in Boston.

  • 1987

    In the company’s 158th year, Dick Yuengling makes the decision to reintroduce Yuengling Traditional Amber Lager, a product that later would become the flagship brand.

  • 1987

    NBWA holds its 50th Annual Convention in Baltimore, Maryland.

  • April 1988

    NBWA holds its First Spring Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., with more than 150 NBWA members visiting at least 250 congressional offices.

  • 1991

    NBWA moves the Annual Convention and Trade Show to Las Vegas, Nevada, and introduces the plans for a Trade Show held every other year.

  • Jan. 1992

    NBWA senior staff and 30 state beer wholesaler executives hold a historic meeting in Chicago to open better lines of communications between NBWA and the state associations.

  • Aug. 1992

    The NBWA PAC raises an annual total of $500,000 for the first time.

  • Sept. 1992

    Former President Gerald Ford is the keynote speaker at NBWA’s 55th Annual Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.

  • Dec. 1992

    NBWA moves from its Falls Church, Virginia, office to a new location at 1100 S. Washington Street in Alexandria, Virginia.

  • Oct. 1993

    NBWA holds its first Oktoberfest celebration at the American Legion Hall on Capitol Hill.

  • 1994

    The Beer Industry Electronic Commerce Coalition, comprised of NBWA staff and several brewers’ key technical personnel, forms to educate both brewer and wholesaler tiers on Electronic Data Interchange and to monitor technological developments impacting the beer industry.  

  • 1999

    All 50 states have operating breweries for the first time in modern history.

  • Dec. 2000

    The NBWA Political Action Committee raises an annual total of $1 million for the first time. NBWA PAC Committee Chair Whitey Littlefield, CEO of Somerset Distributors, LLC in Long Beach, California, creates the PAC Chairman’s Circle to recognize top-level donors.

  • Sept. 11, 2001

    The tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks take place during NBWA’s Convention & Trade Show in Las Vegas. With flights cancelled, NBWA staff along with a number of attendees travel home by bus. 

  • Dec. 2001

    NBWA moves to current headquarters at 1101 King Street in the Old Town section of Alexandria, Virginia – right across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital.

  • Sept. 30, 2002

    NBWA goes online at www.nbwa.org.

  • 2003

    NBWA creates its first Spanish-language public service announcement.

  • March 13, 2003

    American military operations begin in Iraq; the NBWA/Brewers Joint Legislative Conference is cancelled. NBWA produces a packet for members to use in meetings with congressional members “back home” in their districts.

  • 2005

    The NBWA PAC raises an annual total surpassing $1.5 million for the first time.

  • Sept. 19, 2006

    At the 69th Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida, NBWA inducts its first female Board of Directors Chair, Betty Buck, President of Buck Distributing Co., Inc. in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. 

  • Dec. 20, 2006

    President George W. Bush signs the NBWA-backed STOP Underage Drinking Act into law.

  • April 2007

    NBWA hosts the first Distributor Member Meeting at its Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

  • 2007

    NBWA produces the “Mr. Beer Guy” video, which highlights a day in the life of a beer distributor.

  • Oct. 2007

    NBWA and the Brewers Association jointly present the Craft Beer Distributor of the Year Award for the first time at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

  • Nov. 2007

    NBWA appears in Washingtonian Magazine’s “Great Places to Work” edition, recognized for its “interesting work, good pay and benefits, collegial staff, employee development, and flexibility.” 

  • 2008

    NBWA’s first Product Demonstration Showcase is held in San Francisco, California, during NBWA’s 71st Annual Convention. 

  • 2009

    NBWA enters the world of social media with Mr. Beer Guy accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

  • 2009

    The NBWA Convention & Trade Show moves to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

  • Oct. 2011

    NBWA offers its first mobile app to attendees to help navigate the 74th Annual Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

  • Oct. 2011

    The first inaugural meeting of the beer distribution industry’s “Next Generation” leaders is held at the 74th Annual Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

  • 2012

    More than 2,000 breweries are in operation across the United States, marking a high point for the modern beer industry.

  • Oct. 2012

    NBWA celebrates its 75th Annual Convention in San Diego, California.


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