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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pint Standards - Sign the Petition!

For the past 308 years, the various British governments have all assured that when a publican poured a pint, the drinker knew s/he was getting a pint. It was even engraved on the glasses, complete with the British crown. Despite this, it never occurred to me to investigate whether such a standard should exist in Oregon--this despite my much heralded* Honest Pint Project. Fortunately, it did occur to Dave Selden, and he tracked down the relevant authority--the Measurement Standards Division of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Here was his response (bold mine):
Hello Dave,

Thank you for your contact with us regarding your question about pint glasses in restaurants and bars. This issue does fall under Measurement Standards regulation, however, we do not currently have an active program for these types of issues and we are therefore unable to investigate it at this time. We have made a record of this complaint and will keep it on file to help provide data to legislation in hopes of gaining a more viable program in the future.

If you have any further questions please contact me.

Thank you,
J. N., Compliance Specialist 2
Measurement Standards Division
Oregon Department of Agriculture
Our course is clear. No doubt the reason no such program exists is because the state is unaware of the problem. We must therefore create the political momentum necessary to propel this critically important issue to the front of the Department of Agriculture's to-do line. In service of this noble goal, I have created an online petition for you to sign as an indication of your enthusiasm regarding this pressing cause.
Go sign it now.
You paid your five bucks, you want the comfort of knowing you've received an honest pint! To arms!

*By me.


  1. Whoo-hoo--twelve signatures by 4:27! I figure we need to hit hundreds (two, ten?) before we can through our political heft behind the effort, so keep 'em comin.

    And to those who have signed--thanks!

  2. Good grief. Is there no aspect of private commerce too picayune to merit government intervention (i.e., force)? Here's an idea: the next time you order a pint and the bartender slides it your way, if it doesn't look like you're getting enough for your money, buy the next pint somwhere else.

  3. By the way, I measured the shaker pints in my home and to my surprise all of them were exactly 16oz, so I wonder if the undersized shaker pint is dissappearing. Belmont Station reported here that they tested all of their glassware and found only one underzised glass. I checked a number of wholesale glass supplers and they all claim that their pint glasses are a full 16oz.

    Still a simple regulation that establishments must certify their pints is pretty costless or at least a simple memo sent to establishments from the standards and measures people to make sure a pint is a pint should do it.

  4. Anonymous, I'm not surprised that at least one free-marketer hasn't made that point. But think about what chaos your theory would reap in other fields. What if you paid $3 for a gallon of gas and had to trust that the gas station wasn't underfilling? What about beer sold by the bottle, but unlabled--so you just had to do an eyeball in the grocery store?

    (And of course, it's not only the customer who gets screwed: other pubs, which are offering honest pints--there's a list the blog--can't fairly compete if they don't know what their competition is serving. The playing field for competition isn't fair. As a free-marketeer, surely that's a compelling argument.)

    What I'm requesting here is not a beer gestapo. In fact, my guess is that most folks haven't a clue that the standards vary--on either end of the transaction. This would just clarify it so everyone knows what's happening.

  5. As a beer lover and a libertarian, I think my post at ( explains what "anonymous" is getting at and provides a private solution to the quandary as similar private certification would with all of the examples you mention, Jeff.

    Love the site, btw, and I'm sure you and I are on the same page about removing ABV and container size restrictions like we have here Alabama. See ( for more info on these terrible laws.

  6. I would think that venues where a pint is served in a 16 oz glass do not deserve to be on the honest pint list as that kind of glass will almost never make it to the customer with liquid (not foam) filled to the rim of the glass.

  7. All right, I'm really late on this one but I just found your blog, and kudos for bringing this up. I used to live in England, where yes, you have the little crown and line so you knew you were getting an honest pint (or half, or glass, or whatever.) It's annoying to see publicans who may not know better give me 13oz with 3oz of foam, etc. I'm signing and sending this post to all my friends. Thanks.

  8. We have the same problem here in Colorado. You should look at the new invitation called the “Piaget Beer Gauge” being sold at

    This inexpensive credit-card size device is designed to insure you do not get short poured at a bar. The website was launch about 1½ years ago.

    Enjoy the website. The story of the origins of the “beer gauge” is funny and there are a lot of beer quotes there. Also, the story of why the name “Piaget” is interesting.

  9. 16oz pints? You're all getting ripped off. Try pushing for 20oz "pints" like the imperial standard.

    That's what the rest of the world drinks