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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Future of the Honest Pint Project (No Shaker Pints!)

Well, this little effort of mine is starting to attract attention--and trouble. Some of you may have caught the very nice piece in today's Oregonian by Laura Gunderson (reliably and predictably, it's not online--I mean, why would you post an article about a blog on your website?). She contacted me last week to discuss the project, and then asked for some leads to cheater pint establishments so she could track down some offenders. As you know, I've avoided fingering the scofflaws, preferring instead to reward good behavior. But she had a hard time verifying my findings.

More disturbingly, I have unwittingly wandered into a dispute with Kevin King, owner of the Amnesia. Gunderson began her piece with the event that started off my crusade, which I wrote about here:
I mentioned this to the table of friends when we are at the Amnesia, and they were shocked. So shocked, in fact, that they didn't believe me. So much did one of my friends disbelieve me that she brought the waiter over to set me straight. I stuck to my guns, and so he went to fetch a measuring bowl. Sure enough, 13 ounces and change. All were mollified, mystified, and mortified. The waiter apologized and said he couldn't believe they were shorting folks.
But in Gunderson's piece today, there's this:
Hogwash, says Amnesia owner Kevin King.

I'm the owner, brewer, janitor, everything," he says, "and we've been serving 16 ounces since Day One."
The problem is that with shaker pints, it's impossible to track things. Without measuring every glass, you can't know--they look identical. My version of events is absolutely accurate (why would I make this story up?--my review of the pub is uniformly glowing), but I have no way of verifying whether the brewery uses both types, has switched, or still uses 14-ouncers.

This effort has been a little quixotic from the start. I don't have the time or money (or staff!) to do comprehensive testing of the city's glassware. I don't even go out for beers that often because my life is just way too busy. I thought it would be a useful way of promoting good behavior without having to become a beer cop. And, since I consider myself one of the city's great beer boosters (as this site attests), sliding unintentionally into it--when I don't have the resources to do it properly--is not where I want to be.

(KOIN TV may do a short piece on this at some point next month, too--and that may further insert me into the cop mode.)

So I think it's time to make some changes to the design of the Honest Pint Project. From now on, I'm going to leave all shaker-pint-using establishments off the list. They're too difficult to police, too easy to abuse, and for customers, way too confusing. Instead, I'll measure and cite those establishments that use imperial pints or other glassware that is easy to recognize and distinguish. I will have a separate list of places that use shaker pints--and for places on that list, it's caveat emptor.


  1. I have stopped drinking at Amnesia due to kings money driven beer views, I have even overheard king telling another bar owner that he was under charging for Amnesia pints! The food and beer quality has gone down but the prices keep climbing.

  2. I wish the Oregonian article had mentioned the 0.4-l mark on Hopworks' mugs. That's a step in the right direction, a glass that tells you what you got.

  3. I think you are addressing it admirably, Jeff.

    Personally, I think there is nothing wrong with using a 14 oz. shaker glass to serve beer in. Just don't call it a pint. That is false advertising. There is an election this year (who knew?) and Oregon is going to have a new Attorney General. Maybe someone should ask the candidates how they feel about enforcing advertising claims?


  4. Interesting that the wikipedia article on Pint Glasses only talks about the 20oz pint.

  5. Please keep up the good works. I think we're pretty far past the point of no return, though. For many people, the short hand at the bar is, "I'll have a pint of . . ." Now, the publican may not say, "Would you like a pint," but the patron is asking for a drink and not necessarily the measurement. In other words, we're already conditioned to expect a glass whether it is a legitimate pint or not.