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Monday, February 24, 2014

I HAVE A MINOR COMPLAINT: Why no pitchers?

Old man vents spleen.  Just as my aged forebears raised a gnarled
fist against neighbor children everywhere, so too shall I roar
ineffectually about small matters.
All aboard, all aboard JB Alworth's Fantastic Flying Time MachineTM!  Today we'll set the dial back 25 years and visit a gentler Portland, a time when men wore flannel unironically and the blogger was a dashing 21-year-old with a luxurious mane of chestnut locks.  We can pick a tavern at random--in those days brewpubs were rare--and park ye olde time machine behind that dumpster there.  After we pick our way through the VWs and Pintos, we find ourselves at the door of a window-free building, preparing to enjoy a night out on the town and MOTHER OF GOD, what is that toxic cloud!?  Oh, right!--smoking.  Ah, thems were the days.

Things are worse than I remembered.  The fashion--hoo boy, the fashion.  I had sort of forgotten the shoulder pads, day-glo pink, and mullets.  There's a melancholic warble of Bob Seger on the juke box ... oh man, let's get this over with.  As we make ourselves through the blue haze, there it is, on that table over there.  As if glowing from the inside, a beacon of light in this dark age, a pitcher of beer. Sure, it's an eight-dollar pitcher of Hamms, but focus.  I'm pointing out the vessel, not the liquid.

You see it?  All right, let's get the hell out of here.

Only hardcore nostalgics will recall fondly most of the elements of that scene, and yet I fear we have thrown the pitcher out with the mullet.  You can now get any flavor of beer ever conceived, but good luck trying to get it in a pitcher.  I get that breweries and pubs won't want to be handing out 64 ounces of barrel-aged barleywine, but what about the house stout?  On Saturday, while hanging with friends at Ecliptic, one of us old-timers asked if they had pitchers.  Nyet.  He frowned and shook his head sadly, as geezers do when they find the world has changed for the worse, and invested two minutes in a half-hearted rant.

But he's right!  You can keep the Seger, the shoulder pads, the smoky bars with bad beer--but can we at least have the pitchers back?


  1. The prevent the server from judging the amount of alcohol you are consuming. Responsible serving means responsibly monitoring.

    I drink faster than my friends - I hated pitchers, as I always felt guilty. Ordering also allows for self pacing... especially in a group.

  2. An interesting recollection. And on target. I remember going to Bridgeport and various other places and almost always ordering a pitcher or pitchers to share with the group. Little by little, pints became the accepted standard. One might argue they've gone away because today's portfolio drinkers don't have the attention spans to drink more than a pint of the same beer. Opinions will differ.

    You can still find pitchers at some places. Migration has them and I believe Laurelwood does, as well. They aren't alone. My observation is that places that do fill pitchers often don't clearly advertise that fact. I suspect they would prefer to sell you pints, which is understandable.

    I don't know where you hang out, but I've heard Seger quite a few times in pubs and recent times. Thankfully, the smoke and the mullets and the bad beer seem to be gone.

  3. Bier Stein in Eugene has brought back the pitcher with their new location!

  4. I do believe here in the Metro Denver area, you can still get pitchers of beer. You need to prove that all who are drinking are legal and then be able to pay for the pitcher price of the beer. I think you can buy pitchers at Oskar Blues, Left Hand, and at the Mountain Sun's brewpubs. You would think that if you can buy a growler if seems reasonable that pitchers of beer should be available.

  5. I hate to harsh your reminiscence, but most beer pitchers -- then and now -- were either 55 ounces (glass) or 60 ounces (plastic). Sort of like all the "pints" around town that are no more than 14, or at most 15 ounces. But then I don't recall taverns that advertised "64 ounce" or "half-gallon" pitchers.

  6. I miss the days 30 years ago in the Halifax of my youth where they were drinking vessels if one sat in the back in a corner. Effectively a pottle pot:

  7. The thing about today's drinkers isn't lack of attention span, it's lack of consensus. Why go to a brewpub if you don't care what you're drinking? Put 5 people who care about what they drink together and how long does it take to hash out what pitcher they'll order?

    Consensus was easy back in the day because everyone drank whatever-lite. Even if you fell in with the wrong crowd they were drinking the-other-lite which wasn't all that different.

  8. I know that Bigtime Brewing, a brewpub located near the University of Washington in Seattle still serves pitches of most of their beers (but not their tripple or barleywine). Some of the neighborhood taverns (that still probably sell plenty of Duff) in the Seattle area that have decent craft beer serve pitchers too, it is just the pricing isn't usually low enough to compete with a lack of conscientious at the table.