The Incredible Shrinking Pint
by Vince Capano
As Popeye might say, "that's all I can stands I can't stands no more!"
For me that's the case of the steadily disappearing shaker pint beer
glass. You think you see it everywhere but in many places it's being
replaced by a look-a-like fast operaor- a 14 oz. or sometimes even 12
oz. glass. It's all about more money for the bar and less beer for you.
And that's not fair.
The shaker pint glass has been the standard for draft beer drinkers for
generations. For decades you walked into a bar and you received a
U.S. liquid pint with it's volume of measure defined as 16 ounces, or
around 473 milliliters for those keeping track. The very definition of
this word has historical origins tied to the selling, serving and
consumption of beer – but all that may have now come to an end.
Now however the game has changed. When you ask for a "pint" you
don't get one. It's that simple.
When I brought my concern to several bar owners they were actually
surprised that I noticed. Well, it's fairly obvious, guys. Their defense is
that it's ostensibly a cost-cutting measure. They claim they don't
want to raise prices so this is the only way to squeeze out a profit. Not
only disingenuous but even if true it doesn't explain why the
unannounced small size glass pour is often accompanied by a price
increase. So now we're paying more and receiving less
Understandably, a business must cover its expenses and ultimately
make a profit but that doesn't justify the clear intent to deceive the
customer with a true pint glass semi-clone.
As a believer in Capitalism I also believe in competition. One of the
tenants of true competition is that the consumer know all the facts.
With the glass switcheroo it's most difficult to compare one
establishment to another on the basis of price as their serving sizes
cannot be relied upon to be equivalent. While this obviously hurts the
consumer it also can hurt some retailers who may unjustly be seen as
charing more when they are actually the same or less on a per-ounce
Don't think this trend is confined to draft beers. Take a look at that
beer bottle size. While the overwhelming bottle size is 12 oz. some
brewers have gone to the 11.2 oz bottle. While that's much more
common with imported beers some domestic brewers have
unfortunately followed suit. Needless to say you won't be paying less
for less beer. I for one do not buy any 11.2 oz bottles. They have
the right to sell it at that size and I have the right to pick another
Here's another trick to watch out for. Many breweries give customized
glassware to retailers etched with the company logo that are meant to
be the ideal serving size for a specific beer. For example a brewery will
supply a smaller sized glass to serve their higher alcohol brews like a
barleywine or quad. Many bars use these glasses not only to serve
other brands (fair enough) but use the smaller portion sizes to pour a
session lager, light wheat, or similar item. Once again the design is to
deceive you about paying more for less. And it usually works.
All this reminds me of CAMRA, the British beer consumers' champion,
campaign to end short pours of beer. Their research showed that one
of every four pints being poured was short by nearly 10% meaning
the consumers were being cheated out of millions of dollars every day.
CAMRA was successful and today each pint glass in the UK has a fill to
line that legally must be reached.
Of course the shrinking pint is not a case of blatant cheating but it is
manipulation of the beer drinker and is no more welcome. I hope
others join with me in patronizing places that serve true pints or at the
very least make glass size and price readily available to the consumer.
That's not asking too much.
Bob, many thanks for letting me vent on this. I know craft beer costs
more to produce and will fairly cost me more to consume. I would not
question a simple price increase since then I can make a decision if the
tariff is worth it. All I want is an informed choice.
Many thanks to V.L. for this month's article. It was a most passionate
and well argued article. He's certainly given us all something to
Please remember I encourage all my readers to send me their articles
and just maybe you'll see yours in print just like Lon!
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