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Change The Laws So I Can Trade My Stuff For Beer

Alex Fossi, October 06, 2014 -   

American alcohol laws are terrible, generally speaking. I'm sure the people who put them together had good intentions, mostly. Of course, some laws appear to be unduly influenced by multinational beverage corporations (whaaat?), and others are relics of our "let's try Prohibition, oh whoops, no this isn't working at all, bring back the legal booze now" experience.

Some laws are oddly specific; in St. Louis, one cannot sit on a street curb and drink beer from a bucket. I can only assume this law was created after a cantankerous lawmaker saw some youths engaged in bucket-drinking and felt the need to curb this dangerous behavior through the legislative process.

I suspect that this sort of scenario has happened many times--after all, how many times do you stop and think, "Hey, there should be a law about that!" Now imagine if you had the ability to actually enact said law. It'd be quite satisfying. If I were a politician, I'd be a terrible representative for the interests of a constituency, but I'd have a lot of fun. In Nebraska, bars can't serve beer unless they also are serving soup, which is clearly the result of a drunk state congressperson who wished they had immediate access to soup.

In Texas, drinkers may take no more than three sips of beer while standing, a law which was presumably enacted to give crowds an excuse for remaining seated throughout Astros games. Noble goals, folks.

In any case, it's easy to point at silly beer laws, but at least none of these are more than a legal curiousity. There are plenty that are sources of minor frustration for brewers and drinkers, perhaps none more so than our laws about transporting beer from place to place. We've talked in the past about why life would be much easier if we could just mail beer legally.

If you're just driving around with beer in your trunk, you're probably fine (unless, of course, you happen to get pulled over in a dry county, which there are a shocking number of).

If you're flying, it's a little more difficult. You can't carry on a full bottle of beer because of the TSA's rules about flying with liquids. Of course, an empty glass bottle is 100% OK, because there's no way that could end badly.

You can check a bag with beer in it, although this requires that you pack it as if it will be run over by a moderately sized golf cart. However, depending on your state, even this might not be allowed; I live in Pennsylvania, where it's almost always illegal to have any alcohol that wasn't purchased from a store in the state.

Obviously, people work around all of these problems. We send each other "yeast samples in suspension" and no one at FedEx bats an eye, because it's pretty clear that no one should really be bothered by that. I doubt a state police officer would detain me for driving a case of beer from Delaware into Pennsylvania. Still, it'd be nice if we could just get some of these laws off the books, because they're just inconveniences. It's 2014, and I can't order beer online to be delivered to my house. A silly complaint? Sure. But there's no reason for that to be the case.

I'm also concerned that our laws are slowing down our progress in a developing field: beer bartering. I'm not talking about trading beer for other beer. I'm talking about trading beer for other stuff. A new site in Australia called Swap4beer.com allows people to post their stuff a la Craigslist, but with a price listed in beer.

The innovative trading occurring on this website is just obscene. You can get a classy TV cupboard for two cases of something called West End. You can get the world's dirtiest DJ mixer for any six-pack (which, frankly, seems like an overpay). You can get this guy's used toothpaste tube (with at least 10% of contents remaining!) for literally any single beer.

You can even get Chihuahua puppies for free. It is not clear how this is related to a beer swapping site, but, I mean, free Chihuahuas. Are you telling me that you aren't interested in a website that lets you trade your old junk for beer and also get free Chihuahuas?

Sure, there are some kinks to be worked out. The "Weird & Wonderful" section may involve a little too much innovation, since we have people offering items such as "My Tallness Service" (exactly what it sounds like. He's a tall guy that can do tall guy stuff). That said, if you need a tall dude for something and you have a beer, maybe this is perfect.

Regardless, this is a website America needs. Right now, our laws don't allow it. We should change them. Cheers and good night.

You can find Alex on Twitter @AlexanderFossi. You can also find Swap4Beer on Twitter at @Swap4Beer, which is likely to be significantly more entertaining for you.

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