The Perfect Pint: Is the Pint Glass Holding Craft Beer Back?

The Perfect Pint: Is the Pint Glass Holding Craft Beer Back?
May 10, 2016 Brody

A pint of beer is a potent image. Synonymous with life-enriching joy, merriment amongst friends, and perfectly chilled refreshment after a hard day’s work, the iconography of an amber pint being illuminated by the sun or the warm glow of a barlight is worshipped by an incalculable number of beer drinkers. In the UK alone, we down tens-of-millions of pints every year, and thousands every minute – with those numbers skyrocketing during major events, such as those involving a ball and national pride being on the line. The imperial pint glass is a grand old tradition – nowhere more so than in Britain where it originated in the mid 1900s – However, with the influx of so much amazing local and imported beer that isn’t necessarily best served in a pint pot, the pint glass’ status as the way to drink a beer is up for debate.

Modern beer lovers are drinking vastly different brews from their predecessors. Despite achieving mainstream recognition, the craft beer industry outside of the USA is still relatively young – and while contemporary beers may draw upon classic styles for inspiration, the end result is often a noticeable departure, and a far boozier journey to the bottom of the glass.

No longer are we restricted to the choice of a lager, bitter or mild.  A diverse selection of beers from around the world is readily available, while the UK brewing scene is booming in spectacular fashion. From refreshing, salty goses to heady double IPAs, the choices are seemingly endless, however one fact does remain: many beer drinkers are choosing to scale down their serving size in favour of enjoying a wide variety of brews. Our relationship with beer is changing, and regardless of whether your grandad thinks you’re a pretentious ‘Fancy Dan’ (I entered a far more NSFW word into the online thesaurus before landing on that title) for waxing poetic about the mouthfeel of your wine-barrel aged sour, it’s likely you really won’t care because the brew you’re savouring tastes incredible and different from anything you’ve ever experienced. 

Other European countries with their own rich and ancient brewing traditions have long embraced smaller glasses filled with stronger more flavourful brews rather than pounding 12 pints of straw-coloured mass-produced lager on a Saturday night. The Dutch drink their “small beers” from a ‘vaasje’ (a small vase) or a ‘fluitje’ (a small flute) dependent on the Amsterdam establishment you find yourself in. Ordering a pint in Paris, is often greeted with the words  “here is your very big beer” and some non-distinct but unnerving whisperings. 125ml galopin servings of blonde beer are commonplace,  you can even order one for lunch and sound both cultured and responsible. “I’ll have the meal deal and a pint of Carling” doesn’t sound quite as sophisticated. If you were  to order a beer in a Spanish bar, the standard serving is a caña – a glass with a volume of 200 millilitres, just over a third of the size of a British pint. We’re somewhat obsessed with pints and the machismo we attach to their downing. It’s hard to deny that we submerge a sense of national pride deep inside a pint of beer – the reality of a night filled with pints is rarely inspiring.

This isn’t a recommendation that everyone start sipping shandy down the pub, quite the opposite. Why not opt for a bottle of barley wine? You know who drank barley wine? Knights, with swords and armour, and a horse, also wearing armour. If you drank a pint of barley wine you’d probably think you were a knight, and that the local supermarket was a snarling demonic beast with neon eyes and an army of metallic creatures on wheels. Boozy double IPAs overflowing with hoppy flavour are rather popular at the minute aren’t they? If you drink a pint of 10% DIPA then twenty-minutes later your perception of time and space will have likely been altered, plus your legs will now be independent to your brain.

Many beer-lovers value the size of their drink over its quality. Craft Beer is deemed too expensive! The thing is, craft beer isn’t all about the bottom line., It’s made using the finest ingredients in micro-breweries by individuals who look at brewing as a vocation.  Yet paying more for a bottle of the end result of all that hard work is considered pricey because a pint of popular beer for around the same price. Sometimes a pint is great; at a festival, at the footy, at a wedding you really didn’t want to go to – these are all fantastic places  to nurse a pint of cold (well, lukewarm) beer.

⅔ pints, half-pints and ⅓ pints are already a popular choice amongst UK drinkers tired of drinking pint after pint of the same beer. Over a third of beer lovers now opting for the measures in pubs and bars so that they can spend the night sampling a range of different beers. Ultimately your geographical location will come into play, and perhaps your local doesn’t have a particularly wide range of choice, but if it does, why not sample a half of imperial porter or red ale? Start thinking smaller when it comes to ordering your drink and your love for beer will likely grow and grow. The pint glass may well be holding craft beer back, it’s most likely holding you and your tastebuds back too. [boost-tracker]

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  1. Anonymous 3 years ago

    Bar staff in the UK are generally scum. Therefore you want to go up as few times as possible. I don’t just order one pint, but go for 3.

    Smaller drinks/measures make things more complicated from this perspective. I’m sure in countries where more care is dedicated to customer service, going up to order might be a more pleasurable experience – therefore allowing more room for creativity in terms of beer choice.

  2. Anonymous 3 years ago

    I couldn’t care less about serving measures and what is culturally acceptable. I order the drink I wish to drink and the amount I wish to drink. If anyone feels under pressure to order the mass-produced piss in a pint glass that so many do then great, but they are missing out.

  3. Anonymous 3 years ago

    Dont know why you think pint glasses became commonplace in the mid 1900’s,mid 19th century maybe closer ! I do agree however that a pint is not a necessity,but as stated above,this has been obvious to true beer/ale drinkers for decades .Do we really need this to become common knowledge,no! Craft beers are too good for the weekend pissheads to be drinking them as well !!!!

    • Author
      Brody 3 years ago

      Hi there, the pint glass became a popular drinking vessel in the early/mid-20th century. 100 years earlier, pewter, ceramic and even glass tankards were primarily use to drink beer. Maybe if we encouraged a quality over quantity approach to beer we’d be able to encourage less heavy drinking and more appreciation of great quality beer! Cheers for commenting.

  4. Anonymous 3 years ago

    It has been customary for beer festivals in the UK to serve in half pint or third pint glasses for as long as I can remember (25 years plus); such an event has been an opportunity to sample a very wide range of styles and strengths of beers, ciders, perries etc since long, long before the term ‘craft beer’ was coined. This article is stating what has been blindingly obvious to any real ale fan in the UK for decades.
    I wonder where the author lives. Most pubs or bars in my experience stock a very limited range of real ales (even less so ‘craft’ beers) so if you are thirsty or want to spend the evening with friends, you will be drinking 200ml of the same 2 or 3 beers continually. There is a small minority of specialist bars (UK or Europe) that have the variety worthy of an evening of tasting.

    • Author
      Brody 3 years ago

      The article isn’t intended just for real ale fans and it’s not discussing what happens at the microcosm of a beer festival. Unfortunately, many of the real ale lover that have responded to the piece clearly aren’t ready to move away from the pint when it comes to drinking down the pub, nor are they willing to try modern ‘craft’ styles. The article also states “Ultimately your geographical location will come into play, and perhaps your local doesn’t have a particularly wide range of choice, but if it does, why not sample a half of imperial porter or red ale?”. A blanket move away from pints isn’t proposed, just a nudge to try something new once in a while or if possible. Cheers!

  5. Anonymous 3 years ago

    The tradition here is of low ABV session drinking, for which the pint measures is perfect. There is a difference between enjoying a refreshing 4% pale ale or rich bitter, which can pack plenty of flavour of done properly and a gaggle of swaying lads downing piss poor macro lager with the accompanying “WHEEEY!!!”. This article tars both parties with the same brush and is completely unfair. I don’t see anyone picking on the German’s for their 1 Litre Steins.

    • Author
      Brody 3 years ago

      It clearly doesn’t aim to tar anybody but rather lament our own lack of diversity when it comes to getting a round in. While Germany may have a fondness for Steins, they also enjoy many other measures. Such diversity is rarely seen in the UK. Cheers!

  6. Anonymous 3 years ago

    I agree that the argument is garbage, and would like to add that the article is garbage too.

    • Author
      Brody 3 years ago

      Thanks for the insightful and informative comment, your argument proposes many areas of discussion! Clearly much wisdom sits at the bottom of your pint glass. Cheers!

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