Friday, June 18, 2010

Social Commentary on Texan Liquor Laws

We spent last night in Big Spring, Texas. Whackosaurus. Last night was game 7 of the NBA finals, so naturally our instinct was to locate a sports bar to grab some dinner, watch the game, and knock back 7-12 jae jae bombs. Unfortunately, every bar that iphone identified was either dilapidated (to the point of nonexistence, aka pile of rubble), super sketch (think San Quentin prison), or closed. Feeling defeated, we decided to check into a hotel, get some adult beverages, and watch the game in our room. We settled on the luxurious Plaza motel. It featured dual queen beds and an array of amenities that included free wi-fi (thank them for enabling us to get this blog up and running), warm water, refrigerator, and a continental breakfast. After securing the room we went out in search of booze, while doing so we realized a few interesting things about variations in state specific liquor laws.
First, we all (speaking to the California readers) take our hippie ass liquor laws for granted. In California, almost all convenience stores, supermarkets, etc. carry beer, wine, and spirits and serve them from 6AM - 2AM. This is not the case in Texas. In Texas, liquor must be sold by a state licensed liquor vendor. This means it is not in gas stations, convenience stores, pharmacies, supermarkets or mostly anywhere else. In addition, beer can only be sold from 7AM – 12:00AM on Monday-Friday, 7AM-1AM on Saturday, and 12PM – 12AM on Sunday while hard alcohol can only be sold from 10AM – 9PM on Monday – Saturday and is completely unavailable on Sundays. Recognizing that these legal intricacies could make it difficult to find Jaeger at 8:45 PM in a run down crapbox of a town we decided to book it a couple miles down the road to the Beer & Ice store to load up on Natty for the night.
The purchase of the thirty rack revealed the second alcohol related realization. Texas (quite obviously post fact) does not have CRV. For those of you who are unfamiliar with CRV, it is an acronym for California Refund Value. Basically, in an attempt to generate tax revenue, reduce drinking, and promote recycling, the geniuses running California decided to charge a tax of $0.05 per can of beer and then refund that money when you return the can to a recycling center. It's not a terrible policy when you think about it. But anyways, Texas does not have anything like this and as a result has much lower total taxes on beer. Wonderful for us, not so wonderful for the environment. Start recycling you rednecks.
A final interesting factoid that we learned is that despite the stereotype of Texans being beer drinking hicks, there are 30 counties in Texas that are completely dry. We have yet to encounter any of those counties and hope this steak remains alive.

Now that you are as knowledgeable about Texas alcohol as we are, we can get back to how our night shaped up.

When we got back to the motel we switched on the game with enough time to catch the end of the second quarter and fit in a team jae jae bomb. We pillaged the free wi-fi while watching the Lakers eek out an NBA championship over the Celtics (something that absolutely no one in America cares about, with the exception of LA and Boston natives). Once the game was over and we were sufficiently lubricated we stumbled over to Country Fare --the 24 hour restaurant next to the motel.
Country Fare was about all you'd expect from a 24 hour joint in Big Spring. The food was surprisingly satisfactory and some dishes such as the chili and the Dakota double burger were well above average. However, the slow service and mediocrity of other items detracted from the experience. One interesting topic of discussion was the presence of a smoking room. In California, customers are not allowed to smoke in restaurants. Apparently, this is still allowed in Texas and it is facilitated by a smokers only dining room that is separated from the main dining room by a large glass wall which allows the “health conscious” patrons to watch the “cancer cases” like animals in a zoo. While this was quite amusing we were also saddened to observe multiple families with children choose to eat in the smoking room. This sparked a train of discussion about the ethical qualms of providing such smoking rooms and what sort of restrictions should exist to ensure that the inhabitants are of legal age, have provided consent, and not subjected to unknown health risks. Much more could be said on this topic. For a more intimate discussion please email

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