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Friday, October 05, 2007

The Honest Pint Project

I have made sporadic hay of an issue of some import to denizens of Beervana: the use of the dreaded "cheater pint." This bantam-weight shaker-style glass offers a maximum of just 14 ounces of liquid--a baker's dozen or less if there's any head. They aren't quite ubiquitous, but you find them in the majority of pubs, restaurants, and breweries around town. Going back to the mid-90s, gonzo beer writer William Abernathy pioneered the campaign against cheater pints, and the battle has been taken up from time to time. To, obviously, no great avail. Maybe we had it backward, though. Maybe the goal shouldn't be shaming the delinquents, but praising the good and true.

So, beginning today, I plan to assemble a list of pubs and breweries that offer an honest pint. Below is a woefully incomplete list, but you have to start somewhere.

Since the main enemy of this project is lack of thoroughness (abetted by my native holing-up instinct), I would love your help. However, in order for this to be an authenticated guide, I need some info from you. In an email (the_beeraxatyahoodotcom), include the following:
  • Type of glass,
  • Ounces, if you can determine them
  • Per-pint cost
  • Picture or web link showing the type of glass in action.
As I was assembling my tiny little list below, I was shocked at how little I remembered which type of glass was used. Horse Brass? Been there 800 times and damned if I can remember. I'll include any place that serves beer, sorted by type.

Let's make Beervana proud!

Breweries and Brewpubs
BridgePort Brewery - 20 oz. pints, $3.75
Laurelwood - English-style pint, $3.75
Lucky Lab - English-style pint, $3.50 [?]
Mash Tun - 20 oz. pint, $4
Rock Bottom - English-style pint, $[?]
Roots Organic - 20 oz. pints, $4.25

County Cork - English pub glasses, $[?]
Goose Hollow Inn - 20 oz pints, $4.25
Belmont Station Cafe - 16 oz pints, $[?]

Higgins - Glassware appropriate to style, $4.75 and up


  1. Are we talking "Profit Pours?"

    One finger under the line?

    Below breweries have constant Profit Pours:

    BridgePort Brewery (wouldn't top me off),Laurelwood (server doesn't know a Brown from an IPA), Rock Bottom (server knows nothing about beer),Widmer (sometimes)... More to come...

    Roots fills my glass, but server rarely know anything about beer and a lot of beers are under par....

  2. I don't know what a profit pour is. I'm talking glassware. Is the description in the post not clear?

  3. I hadn't heard of a profit pour before, but I think Dr Wort is referring to not filling the glass. It seems like this would be a good additional dimension, since it doesn't matter if it's in 16 oz glass if you only get 14 oz of beer. This probably says more about the management, since good-to-the-customer management will enforce not cheating the customers.

    It might be easier just to refer to the glasses by their volume, so 13oz, 16oz, 20oz to avoid the confusion of cheater pint, English-style pint, and imperial pint. It also might be good if instead of just what a pint is, that there was a list of the sizes the pub had available. For example, Double Mountain sells a "glass" as 13oz and a "pint" as 20oz.

  4. Even getting the current effort off the ground is going to take a lot of effort, not to speak of monitoring places to see who underpours and whether it's related to staff or is the pub's policy. I know CAMRA has an effort like you're describing, and I appreciate it, but it's too much for one wee blog to manage. I'm with you, but I'm not going to spearhead it.

  5. p.squiddy is correct!

    It doesn't matter the glass size if the pub/brewery isn't filling the glass.... "Profit Pour" is when the glass arrives unfilled. If you're paying for a "Pint" you should get a pint, which is what Jeff is talking about. Of course, if the glass only holds 14 ozs. and the glass is 1/2 - 3/4 inch shy of fill.. Now you're getting screwed twice. Most pubs are already pouring 14 oz.(?) shaker glass pints and probably saving some cash of the "PINT" price. Anything under a solid fill is a "Profit Pour,"I'd prefer call it a "Screw" pour! ;-}

    Lets' get these people to pour a decent glass full of beer before we bitch about glass size. So far, most place don't know how to pull a tap handle, let alone understand the mathematics of liquid measurement... ;-}

    I've asked pubs and breweries to top off my glass and have got some interesting looks. Bridgeport, (aka: Yuppieville) always under cuts their Imperial pint(?) glasses. I ask for a top off! One time, the server just walked around in a circle and gave me the same beer! Another time, the server said, "All the beers are poured like this!" I said, "Really! What size volume beer do you charge me for?" No answer! I said, "Do you want to pay $3.75 for $3.25 worth of beer?" No answer! She then stated that I was being difficult...

    What ever happened to the customer is always right, and don't we have a right to fair measure of beer for the cost??

    Back to you Jeff.... ;-}

  6. Good stuff Jeff, and I think the approach is right. Dr. Wort's got a good point, too, especially now that hops/malt price increases seem sure to jack up the cost of a 'pint,' whatever that may actually be. I'd hope that underpours can be noted and rectified at the time/place...but it's hard to ask for a top-up, and as the good Dr.'s experience has shown, is perhaps pointless, too. But the Honest Pint Project is a good start, and I'll help as much as I can...

  7. Grain has gone up 50-100% since last year at this time.

    Hops will be more expensive, but more so on the high AAU (Alpha Acid Units) hops. A lot of breweries are using these hops to save on hop prices and hop volume. That concept will no longer work as the these hops will increase 100% or more....

    At least water and yeast are still cheap... ;-}

  8. I agree with both points of view. I think the underpour is a problem, but one a customer at the time can see and act as a normal well-informed consumer. Also, this can depend on the specific bartender (of course if it is pub policy, then we are talking about a beast of a different color).

    The problem with cheater pints is that they are pretending it is a pint glass when it is not, and most people don't realize it. So they are ripping off unsuspecting patrons. The glassware is also a constant at pubs so is not staff-specific.

    So I think that the glassware is the first order of business. Once the glassware it fixed and honest, then we focus all attention on the underpourers.

  9. John--thanks! Might be nice to get support from someone with a powerful megaphone.

    Dr. Wort and all: I don't mean to suggest that what you're saying isn't valid, just that it's not what I'm planning to do with the Honest Pint Project--mainly for the reasons Patrick outlined.

    Dr. Wort, you have a blog of your own, so onward! It's a worthy venture and you should go for it.

  10. This is a great post Jeff, and I've been meaning to chime in, but your comments on our blog prompted me to pop over here and defend our honor. ;)

    Belmont Station uses 16oz shaker pints for most "normal beer", 10oz hexagonal Hoegaarden glasses for stronger beers (like an oversized "rocks" glass), and an assortment of tulips and goblets for Belgian stuff.

    The cafe manager actually measured all the shakers after reading this post to make sure we weren't unintentionally cheating people. We had one 14oz pint mixed in the collection (I think it was Snow Cap), but it was "accidentally" broken.

    Do you have plans to create a plaque or certificate for those who serve honest pints? I'll be proud to hang one if you do...

  11. Chris, I've been thinking of adapting my little Honest Pint Project thing and putting it on stickers for people, but I'm not sure how expensive that would be. But yes, there should be something like that--I agree with you:

    Purveyors of an Honest Pint

    I'll add you to the list.

  12. CAMRA had a campaign a few years back (which the links no longer work for) regarding the amount lost in a short pour, or what Dr. Wort refers to as profit pours. It was a great campaign, though I have no idea how it faired. Here's a picture from the campaign.

    I'm interested to see the final tally on this project. I dont know that it will change my habits much since I'm motivated by poximity, but I'd love to see the results.

  13. I was just at Laurelwood, the new one, up off Sandy. While the beer glass was in the style of an "English Pint," I swear it was smallish and not the true 20oz. I could be wrong as there was a child screaming the whole time and I had to drink fast in order to block him out.

  14. brilliant idea. That's something that's been bugging me for years. It'd be cool to make a nifty widget of the HPP to include on other internat sites...I'd definitely toss that on the sidebar. And I'm happy to help out with said widgetizing.

  15. "Profit Pours" are to some degree a matter of personal preference. While there's no excuse for an inch or more of head, there are places where a beer served with no head is severely frowned upon. I tended bar in a blue-collar pub in London for a few months and if the head was less than a pinky finger, the patrons would assume the beer was flat. More than two fingers, and you were ripping them off. This made for a stressful time when combined with an owner who watched like a hawk and pinched every penny (no pouring out of foam was allowed, nor was letting the beer flow for a second to clear the pipes). Still, I gotta thank ol' Mick for teaching me how to pour a perfect pint on the first draw every time, something quite frankly very few bartenders in this town seem to be able to do.

  16. Great discussion but reminds me that in England they used to have glasses with a line silk-screened on it indicating a level that officially represented 20oz (Imperial pint). Publicans/bar-keeps were supposed to pour at least to the line with liquid, or if not, then head. In Belgium, where we recently visited, the 25 or 33cl lines were clearly marked on many of the glasses. I believe this came into practice long before petrol/gas pumps had to be certified as dispensing accurate volume. And besides, beer is far more expensive than gas - we should care about both size of glass and accuracy of pour relative to $ spent. Is there any reason why pubs that buy glasses with their logo on them now couldn't also include such a mark indicating 16oz or 20oz? That would certainly make it easier to ask for a "top-off" - just get liquid up to the line - should be straight-forward. Think the Brits got that right a while ago...

  17. Next time you order a pint and are given 14oz of beer, drink it and then demand 2oz more for free.

    If they refuse, you can refuse to pay. Or, only pay for 7/8ths of the bill. Or, pay the bill and dispute the charge on your credit card. You might be able to defend any of these actions.

    I'm only one-eight serious of couse. This is a great campaign.

  18. Does anyone know anything about the glasses at The Green Dragon? They're not the traditional pints, but the servers claim they are pint-sized. To me, they feel a little less though.

  19. One other thought. It would be pretty easy to carry a 16 oz. measuring cup along to the bar. The plastic Oxo ones are light and the markings are easy to read along the inside. If servers ask what you're doing, be honest and say you're part of the honest pint project and you'll be recording your results on-line. That might get people thinking.

  20. Crossbeaux, that was my impression of the Green Dragon, too, but Jim Parker says they're kosher. I do have a measuring cup, and I will soon verify.

  21. Hi All, Jim Parker here from the Green Dragon. Our glasses are the Libbey Perception 16 oz "coolers" for pints the 9 oz "old fashioned" for half pints. We get questioned daily on how much our glasses hold. I had one "expert" swear it held no more than 14 oz. So I bet him a beer it held 16. He said OK, so I got a measuring cup from the kitchen, filled it with 16 oz of water. He agreed it was 16 oz. I poured it in the glass and it filled it to the rim. When he went to pay for his beers, I tacked on an extra beer. He said, "I only had two beers." "Yes," I replied. "But you lost the bet."
    Anyone else who cares to make the same bet, I'm willing to take your money.
    In fact, since our glasses taper to a narrower opening, you actually get less volume of head than with a shaker pint.

  22. Might I point out that an Imperial Pint is made of "Imperial Ounces" and not "US Ounces". An Imperial Ounce is 0.9608 US fl oz, making a full Imperial Pint 19.216 US Ounces.

  23. Fritz beat me to it. We need standardized glasses that have a clearly marked pour line below the rim of the glass. This would not only guarantee the proper volume of beer that we are paying for, a pint, but also allow room for the head.
    I also believe this falls squarely under the responsibility of the agency responsible for weights and measures. Some of you may hate the government, but a pint is a pint is a pint, and if I need Uncle Ted telling the barkeep that it is then so be it.

  24. You know who fills those "American" pint glasses to the rim? Binks on NE Alberta. Yeah they only have about five or six beers on tap, but the last time I was there on a busy Saturday night, the bartender consistently poured to-the-rim glasses for me and my wife. I love that place.

  25. Clinton Corner Cafe consistently pours a full to the rim pint. You have to bend over and sip a little before you can pick it up.

  26. I'm a McMenamins Fan. They must have 25 establishments in the Portland area. Any word on the honesty of their pours?

  27. Do any of you know anything about beer? To get the true flavor of a draft there needs to be "head" at the top of the glass. If you are looking for a bargain, then go to the store, buy a six-pack, go home and pour till your heart desires! Quit your bitching, you cheapwads!

  28. An Imperial Pint is 19.2 ounces. However, a certified imperial pint glass actually holds a few ounces more than that. It's so you get 19.2 ounces of beer and the proper amount of head. So, even if we are able to check that glasses hold 16 ounces, we are still not getting that amount if the bartender pours it correctly.

  29. In Oregon, file suit against any bar that intentionally uses 14 ounce glasses advertised as a "Pint" under Unlawful Trade Practices Act and get minimum damages of $200.00 plus court costs and attorney fees. ORS 646.638. You'll put an end to cheater pints.

  30. Whats that website selling the plastic gauges you can hold up to a pint glass to tell you how full it is?..

  31. Ah hah :D I found that site. I read about it in the Oregonian a couple weeks back.

  32. The Moon and Sixpence on 42nd in the Hollywood district serves full size British Imperial pints (20oz), and does a fine job filling them.