Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Short Pours & Honest Pints

A while ago, I read about this "Honest Pint Project" starting up in Oregon. The premise is based on those little printed markings on glasses you see in Europe (,3L or ,5L and so on) and the horizontal line near the top of pints in the UK. These markings illustrate how much beer you're getting so that you know if you're getting a short pour. So how do you know how much you get here in the states? Pint glasses can range from 14oz to 20oz, and you may not even notice the variation in size. In fact, according to many sources including the Wall Street Journal (which references the Honest Pint Project), an increasing number of beer-pouring establishments have started utilizing smaller glasses that look similar to a full pint but are actually slightly smaller.

That inconsistency is what the Honest Pint Project hopes to change. "The Oregon Liquor Control Commission would be responsible for designing honest pint decals for at least 6,000 draught-beer pouring establishments in the state. HB 3122 requires that OLCC place the words “honest pint” somewhere conspicuous on the sticker.

Only state-regulated taverns, bars, restaurants and the like may display the decals -- Joe Sixpack can’t qualify for a decal just by serving friends beer in cold 16-ounce glasses from the fridge -- and the certification must be renewed every two years." The house bill passed in May.

Across the pond, CAMRA (CAMpaign for Real Ale) is pushing for the same thing even though glassware there already has pint markings (it is illegal to sell beer in unmarked pints). Seems the folks in Oregon should note that marking the glasses is no guarantee against short pours. CAMRA reasons that "it is unlawful for consumers to be short measured when buying petrol and it should be unlawful for consumers to be short measured when buying a pint of beer." They also note that at least 25% of all pints poured in the UK are less than 95% full. In 1997, the UK government vowed to eliminate short pours but have not fulfilled that promise. As a result, CAMRA estimates that people in the UK pay an extra £481 million a year for beer that is not actually poured.

So what do you think? Rip off or insignificant issue? I figure as long as a bar isn't deceptive about the capacity of their glasses, I really don't care. I do think it's a little odd when places serve beer of an average ABV in a smaller "specialty" glass (which is usually around 8oz), but that doesn't happen often and I usually chalk it up to the naïveté of the bartender. We've also had the reverse experience, where a bartender poured an Imperial-style beer into a pint glass. Who am I to say something? It is, after all, just beer.


  1. My husband was bitching a bit just this past weekend when he got a significantly shorter pour than he should have, and I finally had to tell him to let it gooo already. (The bar we frequent makes up for short pours in free drinks every so often, so I figure it all evens out eventually.)

    But the problem was that the "pints" we were drinking are already the shorter variety (14 oz.), so I suppose he had reason to be a little miffed. ::shrugs::

  2. The Dukum Inn, in Kirksville, MO, does the short pour thing, with the extra thick bottoms and thicker glasses to short change on a pint, drives me crazy everytime, b/c it's already the most expensive beer in town.


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