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Go back a few years, and it was common for a man ordering a round of drinks in a pub including a half-pint to be asked by the bar staff “and is that half for a lady, Sir?” If you said No, you would get a smaller version of the pub’s standard glass, probably a Nonik or tulip. If you said Yes, you would get a stemmed beer glass of various designs, or at least one with a thick, splayed base. Understandably, this was widely seen as patronising and sexist, and you don’t tend to hear it any more. Surely there is no reason why the glasses used by men and women should not be identical.
But, on the other hand, you often see articles such as this and this arguing that pint glasses put women off drinking beer, which seem to imply that women actually do have different tastes in glassware from men. I think there are several things going on here, including a dislike of traditional macho pint-drinking culture, and not really wanting to drink beer in that kind of volume. It’s not simply a dislike of Noniks and dimpled mugs.
Few pubs outside of specialist bars have taken up the recently introduced two-third pint measures, but every pub serves halves, and I’m sure most, if asked, would produce a stemmed half-pint glass of some kind. Maybe pubs should make more effort to stock stylish half-pint glasses, but other customers would object if they were offered as the default, and is that going to make much difference in the overall scheme of things anyway?
This kind of thing is easy to say, but it’s more difficult to define exactly what pubs are expected to do about it. Recently we have seen a large rise in the number of distinctive brand-specific glasses used, although they normally only come in pint sizes and are usually just for keg beers and lagers. This is a conscious attempt to make glassware more appealing, although personally I find many of the designs unattractive and over-tall, and the stemmed ones, such as the Stella goblet, are particularly horrible. I don’t think stemmed pints are really what is being requested.
I don’t believe, though, that it’s in any sense sexist or discriminatory to say that women have different tastes in glassware from men, as they do in many other spheres. And, deep down, I suspect one of the things women dislike more than men about pub glasses of any kind is that they are brim measures with the attendant risk of spillage. But that isn’t going to change any day soon, and neither is the position of the pint as the predominant beer measure.