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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Brett Joyce Responds

A week ago, an emailer wrote me that the Portland Rogue (Flanders Street) was pouring short shakers. He offered his name and a picture of the offending short pour in a measurer. At long last, Brett Joyce has commented:
The truth will set you free. The Rogue Nation has been proudly serving Ales, Porters, Stouts, and Lagers in 16oz pints in all Rogue Meeting Halls for 20 years. We also provide all guests with a complimentary 4 ounce “taster of the day”.

See the photographic and video evidence below to see for yourself: video, competing image.

We look forward to wearing and selling Honest Pint T-shirts and to an official apology.
You can be the judge. However, Brett, to comply with the Honest Pint Project's goals, you gotta serve 16 ounces of liquid, not a 16-ounce glass. I am not calling out pubs using 16-ounce glasses, though. You are charged by my readers with using the dreaded cheater pint. I haven't made it out to do my clandestine, definitive measuring, so I remain agnostic. As always, the buyers will decide. (Rogue's response is an impressive one. You put thought into it, guys, thanks!)

Thanks for commenting--


  1. ....and when was the last time anybody got a pint filled to the brim at Rogue???

    There's NO HEAD!! If the beer is THAT flat, I really don't want to drink it... ;-}

    OK! Everybody go down to Rogue this weekend and see it you get a pint filled to the rim!!!

    $5.50 a pint equals about .34 cents an ounce. So, when you get 12.6 ounces in your glass, pay them $4.28!

    Yes! That math is correct! If you get a beer from Rogue with a head...(12.6 ozs of liquid) More than likely you are being you are being screwed out of $1.22 +/- per REAL PINT purchased.

    The reality is the entire pint probably doesn't even cost them $1.22 to brew!!

    Any thoughts?


  2. "I am not calling out pubs using 16-ounce glasses, though."

    Why not? I want my monies worth everywhere I go.... ;-}

  3. I think I'll just stick to Bailey's... I feel like I always get my money worth there. I would be horrified to be served a glass that's overflowing like that just for the sake of reaching that 16 oz mark. How about a little room to breath and to enjoy the nice head that's made by the brew.

  4. At least you didn't get a letter from Rogue's lawyers first. The thing I like about places like Baileys Taproom is that Geoff serves 20 ounce pints to avoid squabbling over an ounce or two. And Bailey's prices are honest, too.

  5. They look like different shakers to me.

  6. Hilarious! I can't believe no one at Rogue thought that pour was laughable. The server couldn't pour a beer out of the tap with no head and get it to the bar and table without spilling some of that. In essence Rogue proved your point, not theirs.

  7. I think this video and the comments that have followed just serves to prove my point: without clearly market glassware there will always be uncertainty. If I know a glass is 16 oz at the rim then I can make up my own mind if I got a lousy pour and adjust the tip accordingly. It is the lack of clarity in the size of glassware that is the problem. The very simple solution of marking the volume somewhere on the glass is the obvious solution. If pubs demend this glassmakers will start to produce them at very little extra marginal cost.

    Three other comments. One, I was at the Deschutes in the pearl where the menu clearly states "20oz Imperial Pints" - kudos for clarity. Two, the HUB serves beer is weird glassware that is marked with something like 13.2 oz (it has been a while). I am not sure if the menu states clearly the volume (it should, but I think it just doesn't say anything) but again, at least there is transparency somewhere. Third, I am not sure why Rogue has become the whipping boy of the beer-o-shere. I suspect that it is the combination of excellent beer and a cool corporate ethos but very high prices. So people want to like them but feel excluded by high prices. I love Rogue, but admit to being in infrequent customer because of the prices they charge. Still, a 22oz Shakespeare Stout is in my fridge and may be opened this evening.

    Just to add a counter-point to the Rogue bashing: I took a group of undergraduates from OSU out to Newport to visit with Jack Joyce at the brewery and he couldn't have been nicer and more gracious. He spent an entire afternoon with us, served free food and drink, gave us a tour of the brewery and distillery and chatted at length with the students about the beer business and Rogue. So there is a LOT to like about them. Besides, if there is ANY company that could kick start the labeles on the glassware, its Rogue. How perfect a fit for their image than to adopt the "rise up and demand an honest pint" ethos?

  8. Patrick,

    But if Rogue were to mark their glassware for an "honest pint" they would give the term a new name (probably Rogue Pint)and spin the idea into some long winded speech about Rogue undermining the common practice in the industry and how they started the trend, blah blah. Infact, they are probably working on this idea right now, wait for it.. the press release is probably being run through with the thesaurus as I type this.

    Patent your DNA or Rogue will...

  9. A few comments.

    I'm not a Rogue-basher. I think the company has been more or less the same for 15 years. They've always been incredibly self-referential. The interesting thing is that when you're tiny and self-referential, everyone loves you. But when you grow to big, it seems overbearing. Rogue now has a big retail presence and growing outlets, and their brand identity may now be working backward on them. They might look at some of the other bigs (Widmer, Deschutes) to see how they positioned their bigger selves.

    As for Rogue's beer, Patrick's right--it is expensive. I'm cool with that. Beer's expensive to make, and if the market will bear Rogue's prices, it creates a price spectrum that helps, not hurts, other breweries. It would be way worse if they were selling sixers for five bucks.

    As inveterate fiddlers, they have historically had a homebrew-y quality about them--some experiments are sublime, some off the mark. Lately they've tightened up their offerings and there are fewer weird experiments. They might not appreciate this characterization, but I think it represents a maturing company and is a good trend.

    Patrick's right about transparency. I encourage ALL breweries to clearly label the ounces of their glassware, whatever it is. This is in accord with the Honest Pint Project, which is essentially about transparency. I do also agree it would be cool and Rogue-y if Rogue stepped up with their own imperials and promoted it. I'd help. (See Foyston's blog for what New Belgium is doing with glassware--surely Rogue could exceed that very low bar.)

  10. I'm confused. If I'm serving beer in in a 16 oz. capacity glass, but with a one-finger head, do you want me to mark it as "approximately 14 ounces" on my menu? And since beer foam is usually about 25% beer, do you want me to say it's actually 14.5 ounces, even if it's technically only 14 ounces of beer when it makes it into the customer's hand?

    And if I switch to Imperial Pints, do I call it a 20 oz. pint like your beloved Bailey's, or do I call it a 19.8 ounce Imperial Pint, since the box sez they actually only hold 19.8 ounces. Then there's the foam issue again... Please advise, because I really don't know what you want me to do here in order to comply with your rules.

  11. I was under the impression that beers are to be poured with a bit of head. I don't mind a finger's width on a beer, and in fact prefer it. If it's in a 16oz glass with a reasonable amount of head, which I feel is essential to enjoying a beer, I think that's an "honest pint". I do agree that Rogue's pints are too pricey though.