The Short Pour of Beer – 12 oz. in a pint

My wife says I’m obsessed, my nephew agrees, but I’m known to be very honest and fair, so why can’t I obsess when I feel slighted. Is a 12 ounce pint okay with you? Would you buy a gallon of milk that was short a quart and not stop to question? How about 3 quarts of gas for the price of a gallon? Perhaps there’s a breaking point for everyone, and reasons for brewpubs owners to care.

The glass in my photo is a “pint” glass, also known as a shaker, sleever, or conical beer glass. I poured the 12 oz bottle (see photo) into the glass with a nice head. Does that “pint” look familiar? Yes, that is 12 ounces of beer – watch the video to see it poured.

A “Short Pour”, in this case, is a glass of beer with less than the amount you expected.  E.G. Purchasing a pint but getting about 12-14 ounces in that pint glass. Watch this video to see how easily one can be fooled. The same holds true for mixed drinks so I shared the Booze on Top article below. I also shared links to the Piaget beer gauge, stories on states considering “honest pour” legislation, and other interesting articles.

So, why should I care? People pick on me when I talked (okay, complain) about short pours. Few seem to care about my short pours, but what if I go back to that gallon of milk… would they be okay with a missing quart? Would you continue buying from a store or pub that shorted you?

There was a time I didn’t even know about the term “Short Pours”. Yet it turns out to be a bigger deal than I thought. Some states have looked to passing laws for honest pints, truth in beer pouring, and banishing short pours; A short list (irony) includes Oregon, Maine, and Michigan.

How much are your shorted? Chris Holloway took measures to help people see how much they were shorted with his Piaget Beer Gauge. Here’s a blog post on Chris and his gauge. This is a cute story on why Chris invented the gauge – It was the day a bartender told him a bomber (22 oz) was 2 pints (32 oz) and proceeded to prove it with 2 pints poured with big heads – visually correct but physically wrong.

Buy Bottle Beer: ABC News outlined 4 ways you can get ripped off and suggests a solution – buy bottled beer. Wait a minute, that’s not right, I want a tap beer.

The Honest Pint Project: NPR interviewed Terry Farndorf on Oregon’s “honest pint project”. It’s an interview from 2008 so you can see this issue has been around for some time. Terry is a brewmaster that started the Pink Boot Society. I’ve never met her but I’ve meet members when I filmed Women Brewers and Hops Growers in Wisconsin, so I trust her.

Booze on the Top: This post is on mixed drinks, but relevant. Sometimes these shorts are done intentionally. Robert Plotkin has a good article on short pours and other tricks by devious bartenders including payments to the tip jar instead of cash register.

A simple measuring tool: If you don’t have a Piaget guage, I found the quarter to be a quick easy measuring tool… A quarter (about 15/16th inch) is at roughly 12 ounces in the standard conical glass. George Washington’s nose is about 14 ounces. The glass wont’ actually hold 16 ounces so it shouldn’t be called or used as a pint.

pint glasses with quarter 2

My point: I think most people want what they pay for. Many are content with the experience of a nice looking pour (short or full) from a friendly server (another story), but I’m not. I’m more like the guy that invented the Piaget Beer Gauge; I have expectations and being shored spoils my experience. I’m a person that wouldn’t pay for a gallon of milk if the top quarter was missing.

In the end I believe pub/restaurant owners should care even more than me. I have left several establishments after getting a short pour, and am reluctant to return. The money I would have spent with them went to a beer store that sells bottles; I know there are 12 ounces in those bottles. Oh, and the store clerks don’t give me a bunch of dollars for change…


About Roger Bindl

Videographer, Video & Audio Editor, Video Journalist, Documentary Producer, and Animator with Background in Technology, Communications, and Video Broadcast/Distribution.