"You don’t buy beer (here), you just/only rent it” is a popular piece of graffiti that has appeared on many bathroom walls—especially in bar bathrooms. The graffiti has been cited in print since at least 1971.
“Let me tell you something about beer: You can never buy beer, you can only rent it” was said by the character Archive Bunker in the television sitcom All in the Family (1971-1979), during Season 4 (1973-74). The saying is often credited to Archie Bunker’s character, but the saying had been well known before the sitcom episode aired.
Wikiquote: All in the Family
All In The Family (1971-1979) was a groundbreaking television sitcom starring Carroll O’Connor as Archie Bunker and Jean Stapleton as Edith. Airing on the CBS television network, the show finished at number one in the Nielsen ratings for five consecutive years (1971-1976), a record it shared with The Cosby Show until American Idol passed it in the 2000s.
Season 4: 1973-74
Archie The Gambler
Archie: Let me tell you something about beer: You can never buy beer, you can only rent it.
Two thousand years of wall writing
By Robert George Reisner
Chicago, IL: H. Regnery Co.
You don’t buy beer here, you just rent it.
(Men’s room, The Oasis bar, Palo Alto, Calif.)
11 July 1975,
It’s humor, as evidenced by the graffiti in the men’s room. “You don’t buy beer here, you just rent it.”
Google News Archive
22 March 1977, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, “Graffiti is on an upsurge,” GreenSheet, pg. 2, col. 5:
“You don’t buy beer, you rent it” (over a pub urinal).
The how-to on talkin’ Texan
By Ken Weaver
New York, NY: E. P. Dutton
‘You don’t buy beer; you rent it.” Reference to the short period of time beer stays in you.
12 May 1990, Chicago (IL) Sun-Times, “Effort, not genes, leads to leadership” by Daniel Ruth, pg. 17:
We learned many things all those days ago, not the least of which is: You don’t buy beer, you rent it.
My Life in the NYPD::
Jimmy the Wags
By James Wagner with Patrick Picciarelli
New York, NY: The Berkley Publishing Group
After my third brew, I realized that Archie Bunker was right when he said, “You don’t buy beer; you merely rent it.” The trip to the john was akin to running a gauntlet.