No single moment in American history has had more impact on the beer business than Prohibition. As it turns out, the 18th Amendment carried some grim racial undertones.
Temperance found its way into the Constitution thanks in part to the Anti-Saloon League, which trafficked in racially loaded propaganda to cast alcohol as a dangerous pandemic. “Saloons became code for not only drinking and debauchery, but also code for where immigrants and brown people hang out,” explained J. Nikol Beckham, an assistant professor of communication studies at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Prohibition movement was “always racialized,” she said, pointing to political cartoons like this one, in which faceless blacks are portrayed as willing minions of a Germanic beer baroness.
In 1933, Prohibition was repealed by the 21st Amendment, but the beer business quickly developed — or even cultivated — race problems of its own. “[The post-Prohibition] consolidation of most beer brewing in the US into very large corporations probably hurt all sorts of minorities who would have potentially owned breweries,” said Allison McKim, an assistant professor of sociology at Bard College. (Source)