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05-11-2014, 15:05
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The thorny subject of short measures in pubs, and whether we need legislation to ensure a full liquid pint, has once again reared its head on the CAMRA web forum (http://camraforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=2235) (registration required, but not CAMRA membership). In the past this is something I have strongly supported but, as I warned here (http://www.pubcurmudgeon.org.uk/beer01/curm0101.html), the fact that it was included in Labour’s 2001 election manifesto didn’t mean it was going to happen. If it had been brought in back then, we would have got used to it and would wonder now what all the fuss was about.
But it wasn’t and, while I remain in principle in favour, its moment has now passed. There are no endemic complaints from drinkers and no appetite in government to revive the issue, added to which there is no longer – as there once was – a substantial number of pubs using oversize glasses that could be held up as examples of good practice. It’s just not going to happen, and I really struggle to summon up much indignation about it. About the only places you will now see oversize glasses are at CAMRA beer festivals.
It also seems to be the case that British drinkers have an attachment to the concept of a brimming pint glass. Back in the days when oversize glasses were commonplace, a lot of drinkers didn't actually like them because of the air space left at the top of the glass, and described them as “glass buckets”. Somehow it doesn’t look right. I remember one or two members of the local CAMRA branch repeatedly moaning about short measure in pubs that used them, even though they must have known it wasn’t.
If you fill your car up with petrol, and the pump is dispensing less than it claims, you will be out of pocket and need to buy more at a later date. But, in a pub, if you get a “pint” of 19 fluid ounces, you won’t suffer any financial loss and indeed you might end up with a slightly less sore head the following morning. Being too pernickety about the exact quantities of food and drink consumed at the point of sale seems pretty pointless as small variations make no practical difference. In effect, what people are doing is going in a pub and asking for “a large glass of beer” which just happens to be denominated as a pint. If (heaven forbid) we were to go metric and a half-litre became the standard pub measure, pretty much everyone would be happy with one of those on the occasions where they would now ask for a pint.

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