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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

How Many Ounces is an Honest Pint?

Ron Gansberg, Raccoon Lodge brewer extraordinaire (or "Imagineer," as the Rac Lodge styles him), added a question in comments when he signed the Honest Beer Petition:
We here at Raccoon Lodge and Brew Pub want to comply with the honest pint movement. We need clarification. Is the glass 16 oz to the rim or is the glass 16 oz of beer + head to the rim? And if the latter, who is a good supplier?
Good question. There are three answers, reflecting the reality of the current situation. Since I'm spearheading this, I've worked up my own criteria, but I recognize that I'm not the final authority. But here's my take.
  1. Minimum standard - a sixteen-ounce glass at the rim. Effectively, you'll be getting in the 14-15 ounce range per pour. There are shaker pints that conform to this standard, and if all the Honest Pint accomplished was to provoke a switch to them, I'd be satisfied.
  2. Best standard - In England, pint glasses have a little head room, and an etched line that signals the full pint. Publicans employing 17- or 18-ounce glasses would be offering patrons a full pint of liquid. It's the less-weaselly solution.
  3. Alternative standard - many pubs actually use the English pint glass, delivering a full 20 ounces to consumers. This is an instantly recognizeable glass, with its characteristic bulge near the top (and to my mind one of the prettiest). Pubs using these generally note that they're 20-ounce pints or "imperial pints."
To add even more granularity to the conversation, I'll point out that the good folks at CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale in Britain) have their own effort to end "short pours," including an online petition. I foresee a time when Oregonians, satisfied that their glasses are honest pints, will push to end short pours (a scourge Doc Wort decries). But I'll take a simple switch to 16-ounce glasses.


  1. If there were to be a vote on such a thing I would vote for option 2. This removes the problem of big headed beers..

  2. Absolutely.... ;-}

  3. I vote for option 2, also.
    In many parts of Europe, (especially Germany) they have a line marked and labeled. This is meant to be the "liquid line," and not the "head" line, by the way.

    This would also eliminate the practice of pouring-off the head to pour a "head-less" beer, as is the practice of uneducated bartenders who think they are doing the patrons a favor. (This practice is especially prevalent in small towns and in the Midwest, where "frugality" is the determining factor, rather than taste). I call it the "Iowan Skin-Flint Factor."

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I'm 1000% in favor of "Beer Fill Lines" on pub glasses and pints. If the Europeans don't want to be screwed, neither do I... ;-}

  6. Lines would be optimal, but I am principally concerned about full information. If you want to use a 15oz glass, fine, but make sure I know it - then I can make my decision about whether to buy a beer or not.

  7. I'm actually going to take a different path here and say I'm not really all that concerned over serving size. When I order a beer I figure I'm getting something within a range of serving sizes and don't really sweat it. I mean let's say we're dealing with a $4 beer and you get a 14 oz. pour, that's 28.5 cents per oz. Now, take the same beer in a 16 oz. glass, you're spending 25 cents per oz. So, what we're talking about here is a difference of 3.5 cents per ounce.

    With the hops shortage this is going to be the least of our concerns when it comes to beer pricing.

  8. Actually, pick up the "standard shaker" tapered "pint" glass in MOST American bars, and you'll find that it perfectly holds 12 ounces plus head--in other words, 13 to 14 ounces. They're made of thicker glass and have an extra-thick bottom (the better to withstand bar abuses) and generally end up with 12 ounces in it. It's a rare bar that can or will use marked pint glasses in the States. And yes, that means you're being ripped off, if you think you're getting a "pint".

  9. BS Brewing Bruce compared the price between a 14oz pour and a 16oz pour which is near the norm.

    However if you have a 16oz standard pint glass with a 1" inch head (actually quite common) you are getting 12oz of beer and you are actually paying 1/3 more for what you are getting.

    $4 for 16oz = 25cents per ounce
    $4 for 12oz = 33cents per ounce

    33-25/25 = 32% increase in price over what you should be paying.

    If you want to save the foam (about 20% is beer) from going down the drain or out of your pocket, look at the most recent issue of Beer Advocate to learn the Ziploc baggie trick.