Ask Abe: We Want More

An Alum

When did the Memorial Union first start selling beer?

Abe

Few things are more iconic than pitchers on the Terrace, and it’s been that way for the past 84 years — as of yesterday. On March 23, 1933, the board of regents approved the sale of beer at Memorial Union. That vote occurred one day after President Franklin Roosevelt signed an amendment to the 18th amendment (a.k.a. Prohibition) that allowed for the production and sale of beer below 3.2 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). If this timeline seems a little sketchy, that’s because it is. In 1923, Wisconsin governor John James Blaine led the charge to “drastically modify” the 18th amendment. This resulted in the state of Wisconsin permitting the sale of beer that had an ABV of or below 2.75 percent. And when the UW decided, 10 years later, to allow for the sale of beer on campus, it became the first public university to do so. Now UW–Madison is one of just a few universities to have its own microbrewery: Campus Craft Brewery, a collaboration between the Wisconsin Brewing Company and the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences.