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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Michigan May Make Honest Pints the Law

Because I (and my indispensable friend, Shawn) have passed the Honest Pint Project on to other champions (where it appears to have passed away), I have mostly stayed away from issues related to transparency in glass sizing.  But then Time Magazine goes and writes this:
Two Michigan representatives are raising their glasses to a bill that would make it an “offense” to serve or advertise a pint that contains fewer than 16 ounces of beer... 

The Michigan proposal is just the latest in the movement for state-regulated pint standards, nicknamed “honest pints.” For context, the approximately 20-ounce “Imperial Pint” is the government-regulated standard in the U.K., and those glasses have been specially marked, the Wall Street Journal reported. Stateside, Oregon beer blogger Jeff Alworth has been one of the major advocates, co-founding the “Honest Pint Project” in 2007, where he has catalogued pubs nationwide that serve fuller pints on his website and has lobbied the Oregon state legislature to pass 16-ounce standards — though the bill did fail to pass in the state senate.
(Let me note that I didn't actually lobby the Oregon legislature--my Rep, Jules Bailey, took that up on his own.)

We shouldn't get too excited--this isn't the first time Michigan has made a run at this law.  They tried in 2011 but it was referred to committee where it apparently died. I have no idea whether it has a chance this year, either.  (I may be running this same post every two years for the foreseeable future.  Which I'm happy to do.)  But it has been getting a ton of attention, and that bodes well.  As you may recall, there's really no good reason to oppose such a statute.  On NPR this morning,
Renee Montagne: Which has left opponents crying in their beers.  Come on, they say, "pint" is used generically and business owners complain they'll have to replace glassware that doesn't measure up.

Steve Inskeep: Although there is another option: stop using the word "pint." 
This gives me hope that the tide has finally turned on the notion of honest pints.  When I first began the project back in 2007, people were weirdly combative about publicans' rights to deceive their customers.  As the NPR example above illustrates, there's no hardship except to publicans hoodwinking their customers--they don't want to use "glass" of beer because it is so, well, transparent about the volume.  

I wish the good legislators from Michigan good luck and godspeed.  They are setting an example for the country to follow.

Update.  On Facebook, my link to this post received the equivalent of Marge Simpson's unhappy noise by William Abernathy.  He has a right to make it.  I've written so much about the honest pint stuff that I didn't do a deep dive, but the short version is this: William was my predecessor writing about beer at Willamette Week, and he was the one to both identify cheater pints, name them cheater pints, and call out cheater pubs.  Everything honest pint flows from his original reporting.


  1. Why should it be okay to call something a pint when, in fact, it isn't? Because business can't afford to replace the glassware? Please. Stop calling a 14 oz glass of beer a pint or replace your glassware. The choice is yours.

  2. "appears to have passed away"... I am hiding behind my desk now. :-(