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How a joke between friends sparked a Richmond man to start National Beer Day

Posted at 9:33 PM, Apr 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-07 21:42:24-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- What started as a joke between friends at a Richmond Buffalo Wild Wings, has now turned into a day to celebrate beer across the county.

As you celebrate April 7, National Beer Day, the Richmond man who invented it says it all started over some beers in 2009.

Justin Smith said he and some friends were drinking at Buffalo Wild Wings, when his waiter came by and said happy National Beer Day. He said the subject peaked his interest, so he researched what it actually was.

It turns out, National Beer Day is an Icelandic holiday to celebrate 75 years of the end of prohibition.

Justin Smith

Justin Smith

That’s when one of Smith’s buddies said the U.S. should have a National Beer Day. After some persisting and some research, he decided to do it, starting a Facebook page.

At that point, he got the attention of the Brewers Association of America and through the power of social media it spread like wildfire.

“It’s not about what beer does, it’s about what beer is,” Smith said. “It’s the quintessential beverage that you can do so many different flavor pairings, you’re going to get flavors that you can’t get from anything else, because there’s so many things you can put in a beer.”

Smith said National Beer Day celebrates when beer became legal again back in 1933.

President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison act into law, allowing the brewing and sale of beer in the United States for the first time in 13 years.

National Beer Day

“It’s probably the only time in American history the government has taken away a right and seen fit to give it back,” he said with a smile. “It’s an important date, not just for beer drinkers, but for people who love freedom.”

So what do you do on National Beer Day?

“You’re supposed to enjoy… Have a good beer, find a beer you never tried before,” Smith said.

He said last year the hashtag #NationalBeerDay trended worldwide receiving just over 119,000 tweets. This year is he expects around 200,000 tweets with the hashtag.

“I had no idea it would ever get this big, it’s just something we kind of did on a whim, but I’m glad to see this important day in U.S. history get the recognition it deserved.”


It’s no surprise the person that invented the day hails from Richmond, as it’s considered one of the most beer friendly cities on the east coast with its exploding craft beer scene.

“It’s something that has had a snowball effect now. It started to pick up steam and it has gotten bigger in bigger.”

So what’s next for National Beer Day? Smith said a day off to celebrate would be perfect.

“Hopefully this will end up a national holiday, I would love to see us get the day off for National Beer Day.”