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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Honest Pint Project in the Wall Street Journal

I would like to call your attention to a fantastic article in today's Wall Street Journal (despite, rather than because, I'm in it). Nancy Keates got interested in the story a few weeks back, and we went out to a couple of places to discuss honest pintage and its various layers of issues. Well, she put together what should be considered the definitive piece on the issue. Really, really fantastic article. (Real journalism makes a blogger's scratchings look meager indeed.)

So as not to invoke the wrath of Rupert (on whose dime I had two pints and an order of tater tots) I will quote somewhat sparingly. Do click through, though--you'll love this article.

Two of the world's biggest glassware makers, Libbey and Cardinal International, say orders of smaller beer glasses have risen over the past year. Restaurateurs "want more of a perceived value," says Mike Schuster, Libbey's marketing manager for glassware in the U.S. Glasses with a thicker bottom or a thicker shaft help create the perception. "You can increase the thickness of the bottom part but still retain the overall profile," he says.

Dedicated beer drinkers are fighting back, with extra vigilance about exactly how much beer they get for their buck. They are protesting "cheater pints" and "profit pours" by outing alleged offenders on Web discussion boards and plugging bars that maintain 16-ounce pints, in hopes peer pressure will prevail. And they are spreading the word about how to spot the smaller glass (the bottom is thicker)....

Jeff Alworth, a Portland, Ore., beer blogger, university researcher and a founder of the Honest Pint Project, has been testing suspected short-pouring bars, in some cases measuring his beer-glass capacity by the men's room sink. His group collected more than 400 names in two weeks for an online petition urging state regulators to enforce a 16-ounce rule. And at one point, he was posting the names of bars that didn't measure up on his Web site. But in response to complaints, he now has taken to listing the names of establishments serving full pints in bigger glasses. "I'm not a firebrand," says Mr. Alworth. "I am devoted to Oregon beer, and it seemed like using glasses where you don't get a 16-ounce pour was not so cool...."

Beer activists are talking about developing stickers to adhere to the windows of bars and restaurants where pints live up to the name. Oregon legislator Brian Clem is taking up the issue for the state's 2009 budget, hoping to fund monitoring of beer portions by the state's agriculture department.
In one passage, Keates notes that my "procedure" [in measuring glasses in the bathroom with water, for accuracy "revealed it held 14 ounces"--this at Henry's Tavern. Just to be clear, that procedure was implemented by Keates, whose own glass was the shorty. I didn't actually witness that ladies-room test.

Oh, and I should add that Good Morning America (corporate partner of the WSJ) contacted me today about doing a shoot with them, but I was a bit gun-shy. Those of you who know me will not be shocked by that.


  1. Good man! And what's the deal with Henry's? Who blames customers for sneaking in glassware? It would seem if you two went in there on a regular day that whatever glasses you got are what they serve. They'll probably scrutinize anyone who walks in with a Red Sox hat from now on.
    Congrats from me and the family!

  2. That's great! The article was very well written and I am pleased and proud of your contribution!

  3. Dude. Call GMA back right now!

  4. Thank you thank you and thank you!

  5. The GMA producers are usually great at helping first-timers through the experience. The hardest part for west coasters is if they want to do a live-shot, which means you have to be ready at 3 a.m. If you are still mulling it over, I can talk you through how it works.