Drowning the 3.2 Beer Blues

Below is my (better) title

Drowning the 3.2 Bar Blues

Last Wednesday when I arrived at Avogadro's, a full-bore bluegrass jam was going. I got a drink, tuned up, and wandered around the main room. Saw my friend Seymour Sharpe so I sat down. "Aren't you going to play?" he asked.

"Too fast for my fingers. I'll wait 'til they mellow into blues." I took a sip.

"What's that thing you're drinking?"

"Tequila Sunrise. Now that Avo's has a full bar, I don't have to choose between water or beer."

"Is that what you call 3.2 beer? Water?"

I laughed. "No, I meant real agua." The song ended. I listened to see what would surface next. Jan kicked off "White Freight Liner."

"You going to pick?."

"Nah, they already have four banjos. That's enough for most tunes."

He laughed. "Speaking of 3.2 beer, what do you think of lowering the drinking age?"

"There's really two different issues there. One, we ought to lower the drinking age. If we trust them with our government, then let them drink."

"Tie the drinking and voting ages together. Lower one or raise the other." Seymour nodded. "I really need a drink when I see what some of the people I voted for do. What's the second issue?"

"Abolish 3.2 beer. Former 3.2 bars should only serve hard liquor straight, maybe with a water chaser. No easy-to-guzzle beer or mixed drinks." I sipped my Sunrise.

"That's ridiculous. Then you're encouraging the use of hard stuff."

"Nope. Supposedly alcohol is alcohol. One beer is the same as a glass of wine or a shot of bourbon. So there isn't hard stuff; there's just soft 3.2 beer. Getting people started on that then leading them to regular beer or malt liquor isn't any different than a pusher giving someone pot, then cocaine, and finally heroin."

"Good analogy, but how'd you come up with such a cockamamie idea?"

"I've played in many different bars. I used to drink beer and start fading early, but then I switched to drinking straight tequila."

"That's hard-core."

"My band buddies say that, too, but actually I drink less. Beer or Sunrises go down like water between songs. Cheap tequila tastes so bad I hardly drink any at all and sip water instead. I can pick all night. Now after years of experience, I'm able to handle mixed drinks."

"So," said Seymour, "you figure 18-year-olds would learn self-control from drinking shots instead of watered-down beer. What's to stop them from taking stuff home and mixing their own drinks?"

"They're not allowed to buy from stores, only bars."

"Interesting idea. That means they're always drinking under supervision. The bartenders and waitresses may be able to stop dangerous behavior."

I raised my drink in toast. "Thanks, I hadn't thought of that. Another advantage would be advertising. Eighteen-year-olds wouldn't be interested in beer ads. They'd actually have to read to be influenced by liquor companies."

Seymour laughed. "That's a disadvantage. To get the law passed, someone will have to spend a lot of money. Beer companies aren't going to pay for anything that doesn't increase their sales."

I stared at my drink. "You're right. Well, it seemed like a good idea. Instead of letting 18-year-olds get used to drinking six or ten watery beers and then getting 'em twice as drunk at age 21, we could be teaching them to monitor their alcohol intake since they wouldn't be drinking for taste. And I could pick in 18-year-old bars again. Oh well. Now I'm in the mood for blues." I took my banjo and mostly full drink and joined the jam.

Columns in the Fort Collins Coloradoan by Mike Moxcey