Saturday, 25 October 2008

Another Two Thirds Anyone?

I see that the National Weights and Measures Laboratory (NWML) are proposing in a consultation document that two third of a pint measures be made a legal measure for the dispense of draught beer in the UK. The NWML said the plan for two-thirds of a pint measures “has been proposed by the beer and pub trade to allow greater flexibility in the service of draught beers, especially those with a higher alcohol content”. It would be in addition to current legal measures of a pint, half-pint and third of a pint.

A spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association said: "It would be a small change in the law, but a useful one – it won’t be for every venue or every customer, but it’s about giving customers more choice."Third pints are a legal measure, so why not make the law consistent and make two third legal as well? For some customers, some styles of beer will just seem right for a two thirds pint. So let’s allow the choice."

Well I didn't know that we had a National Weights and Measures Laboratory, but it is certainly an interesting proposal though I feel if the trade want it, then they must feel that there is something in it for them that isn't, to me at least, immediately obvious. That of course isn't a bad thing if there is something in it for the customer too, but it would mean buying a stocking different glasses and pricing would be an issue too. I haven't seen the trade rushing to supply the already legal third pint measure.

I'm not against this, but wonder what the driver really is. No-one has ever said to me that they would like this, but the trade obviously think there is some kind of advantage. What do you lot think?

37 comments:

Nigel said...

Bizarre. It's hardly any different from half a pint. I suppose the contents of 330 ml and 12 fl. oz. bottles would fit reasonably well.

YCC - Dubbel said...

Sounds like a non-starter to me.

Wish that 1/3 pints were more readilly available though. Even Wetherspoons who always have the glasses in stock won't sell thirds outside of festival times.

The Woolpack Inn said...

Interesting one this one. I'm not sure why it needs to be made legal. Unless maths has changed 2/3 is the same a 2 x 1/3. You can serve beer in multiples of 1/3, surely in the same way as a 250ml glass of wine is not actually a legal measure. It's a multiple of 125ml.

Making it legal is about putting the concept into peoples heads, I think.

On the issue of 1/3 the problem I have is the way we charge for it. It's bad enough having to put pints and halves on the till for each of the various different beers we sell, and then remembering to update each price when the beer duty goes up!!

The Woolpack Inn said...

Just a thought. Drinking a half pint is seen as being a ponce by some. Drinking a 2/3 pint is perhaps OK in some peoples minds if it's a strong beer.

Compromise?

Wurst aka Whorst said...

This is &^%$'ing weird! Why is it a problem to decide on either a pint, or a half?? If you want a little nip at the end of the night, and a half is too much, go for a whisky off the optic.

The Woolpack Inn said...

Yeh, whisky, good idea. But I like mine diluted, with more whisky.

And it's even better if accompanied by a pint!!

Boak said...

I'm all for it. If I spend the evening on pints, I regret it the next day. But halves feel too small, you don't feel like you've had a good taste, plus they usually come with no head.

Tandleman said...

Woolpack. No! You can't legally sell draught beer in multiples of a third. Just a third. OK. You can sell TWO thirds, not two thirds!

Tyson said...

Woolpack

I'm afraid you're mistaken. The law clearly states that free-flow beer in the UK can only be sold in 1/3 pints OR multiples of a half. So the law would need changing to allow pubs to legally sell 2/3 measures.

Personally I'm against it. It's unnecessary for one thing. One arguement put forward is that women would like it. Although Boak has supported that claim, surely that's personal preference? Some people might think 2/8 just the right amount, whilst others might choose 7/8. I can't help but think also that, had say I suggested women need such a measure, there would have been much tut-tutting about patronising the fairer sex.

There is already in place, a tried and tested system that, I suggest, works pretty well. Anyone for a pint (or third/half):)

Tyson said...

Ycc

The fact is that there is very little demand for 1/3 pints outside of festivals. JDW simply took an understandable commercial decision. They tried advertising that you could trial any of their ales in 1/3s because some people had asked for it. However, nationally it was a flop and didn't pay its way. I also know from personal experience that when my local freehouse tried it, there were very, very few takers. It's right it should be available as an option but in the pub trade it's a non-starter.

YCC - Dubbel said...

Guest ale thirds in JDW appeal to me as ordering anything more can be seen as something of a risk. I don't even mind if they stipulate that you have to buy 3 thirds in order to make up the price of a pint. Maybe they didn't trial it long enough - it may take some time for the psyche to adapt to ordering thirds at the bar instead of halves or pints.

maeib said...

It seems so unnecessary. It's a 'neither her nor there' measure.

Pubs won't go for it because of the cost of extra glasses. Maybe there will be pint glasses with four lines on them for each measure but somehow I doubt it.

Punters won't go for it as asking for a twother sounds a bit dodgy.

A more sensible addition, but not necessarily one I support, would be the half litre measure, and with it the 250ml measure.

The Woolpack Inn said...

Well it's a good job I don't sell beer in 1/3 pints OR multiples then, seeing as I'm wrong - you've found a rare occurrence of this even, savour!

Seems a bit bizarre thought that you CAN sell a 1/3 but not 2/3. Personally I see no harm in the law being passed. So long as it is not made compulsory. I probably won't take advantage.

Boak said...

Personally, I'd just like to see a law passed to allow publicans to serve what measures they like - as long as it's clear to the punter what they're getting, where's the harm in dishing out half litres, two thirds of a pint etc?

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

From this end of the earth it seems a bit bizarre that there is any legal stipulation on what size you can serve beer in.

Do you think certain elements in the trade are looking to a future where they can make the standard serve 2/3s and charge the same as for a pint? That's pretty much the situation as it stands in this country.

Tandleman said...

FWIW I reckon as follows: Boak: Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! As is Kieran except that he has hit a nail on the head in that he may have discovered the trade's hidden agenda. Get less customers? Change the measure and charge the ones you have got the same price for less.

In Yankee land a "pint" can be anything at all. No guarantees. Nothing. 12oz - to 20oz still a "pint".

As for half litres? Why? Do you expect a pint in Germany? No! And why should you? A half litre would be passed off here as a pint. It would be confusing.

It is to protect the customer that we have our laws in the way they are. Erode that and it becomes (for the customer) an expensive free for all. That's why the trade have suggested this Trojan Horse. Don't be lulled by its (mixed metaphor coming up) siren call. You will end up lured onto the rocks.

Tandleman said...

Sorry Boak. The last para above is meant to explain why I think you are mistaken in your belief that any measure at all should be legal. I didn't mean to sound so dismissive of your views, but reading it again, I was.

The Woolpack Inn said...

I don't think it's the trade that are asking for it. Most of us are happy with the pint. Anything else complicates the issue.

The way we get the trade to work for people like me to actually make a living is a problem.......

Tandleman said...

Well when I say trade I meant the BBPA. I know it isn't exactly the same thing!

coxy said...

It will definetly be an easy way to charge more for less, Look how the prices in budget increases for petrol changed when they changed it to litres,they were increasing per litre what they had been for gallons and getting away with it.Its a complete waste of time and typical of what tax payers money is wasted on.

Rednev said...

I doubt there would be any significant demand for 2/3 measures, and don't expect to see them on offer generally; at some beer festivals perhaps, or as a gimmick. Selling 1/3 measures at CAMRA beer festivals usually results in beer being dearer pro rata, and same would apply to 2/3 measures. This is, in effect, an unavoidable price rise, but, as we all know, there are pubs that round up to the nearest 5p or even 10p when pricing a half pint; these would have a field day with pricing 1/3 and 2/3 measures.

Personally, I've always been quite happy with the pint measure.

Boak said...

People always come back to the "protecting the consumer" argument. I think it makes us Brits sound pretty bloody thick.

If you feel like you're being ripped off, you can always (a) complain or (b) go somewhere else.

Tandleman said...

Boak I rather think it makes us - and not only us as others also dictate measures - enlightened. Your solution has two drawbacks. (a) what can you reasonably complain about if you are breaching no laws about measure? and (b) what good will it do to go elsewhere if you don't know what you will get there until you have spent your money finding out?

Do you also think that it is wrong to display comparisons in supermarkets of the price per kilo or litre? Or show the size of what you purchase? Logically you should. In the USA where you can sell beer in any measure you like, there are no laws that tell you to say what "your" measure is.It just comes as a surprise by and large.

Throughout the ages consumers have had to be protected from unscrupulous or greedy suppliers of goods. Consumer laws go back to the Middle Ages and are there. not because we are all thick, but because they give a level playing field. They allow all of us, supplier and supplied to know where we stand - to know what they get for their hard earned. They help the weak and protect people. They are a force for good.

Your solution might be OK for the articulate, but what about those who find your (a) and (b) solutions beyond them?

Dictating measures may not be perfect, but compared to not doing do, it is a near as dammit!

The Woolpack Inn said...

It is really disturbing to me that there are undertones here of the pub industry ripping off the customer. I think Boak does have some points about consumers having the ability to think.

Mars bars don't have a standard size. They state the size on them and that's important. They are always shrinking them and then bringing out a new 20% bigger bar!

It's all about how satisfied you are with the overall size (don't think about Mick Jagger) of your purchase.

As mentioned by rednev, there probably won't be much call for the 2/3 size anyway, except perhaps for extra strong ales. If you ask for a pint, and most do I think, then there is no question, a pint you should get.

But I do fundamentally agree tandleman, measures and the law are important. The situation in the states where they put an extra thick base of the glass to make it look bigger and then sell 12oz as a pint is crazy, but it does work. If we, the industry, were to sell 2/3 pints then it HAS to be clear that this is what is happening.

If one pub sells it's beer in 2/3 and 1/3 and another in pints and halves then what do you think would happen? What about 25ml and 35ml measures. Many pubs decided to go big. And wine, so much fuss was made about that recently in the press, oversized wine glasses. I think the pub selling pints would win.

Please remember though, us licensees are not trying to rip of beer drinkers, for many years, many pub owners make a living and not much more, many don't even do that. But we wouldn't get away with ripping of beer drinkers partly because as boak says we probably wouldn't get away with it and partly because we care about nice beer drinkers - nice beer drinkers don't put up with being ripped off. - The stupid ones are easy to rip of by putting condensation on the beer pump.

Wurst aka Whorst said...

The standard US pub glass holds a full 16 ounces. This glass I believe is referred to as a "tumbler." Maybe you cats should just switch over to our measure?? The single hit off the optic, in reference to whisky is minuscule. There are pros and cons to regulation.

Tandleman said...

As someone who at least sometimes works in the industry, I don't believe it is out to rip off the customer either, but there is little scope to do so when measure is regulated.

There are views for and against but on balance, in my view, the dictation of measures is good as everyone on both sides of the bar, knows where they stand.

It has nothing to do with thickness! (-:

Boak said...

Tandleman - no no no no no no no! :-)

Seriously, isn't a more apt comparison with beer the comparison to food in a restuarant, or coffee in a cafe? When I'm in a supermarket, yes I want to know the price per kg, so I can compare what I'm getting and whether it's worth it.

When I'm in a restaurant, I don't expect to know how much pasta I'm going to get, how many potatoes will accompany the roast or the size of the fish. Maybe I should? On the other hand, when I go to a restuarant or cafe, I'm paying for the overall enjoyment of being there, not just a rigid price per gram of food consumed.

As for how you have a law to cover it, it's simple; the law is that you have to display the measure you're serving in. If you're not getting what you've been quoted, be it 500ml, two thirds of a pint or whatever, you've got the right to complain, as indeed you would if your bag of rice turned out to only have 950g in it.

But I realise I'm in the minority on this one.

The Woolpack Inn said...

As usual, at the end of these interesting discussions I find myself agreeing in part with everybody.

Tandleman is right - measures law makes everybody clear, both customer and merchant.

Wurst: see: Pint? I’m sorry, but America got the pint wrong, anything less than 20oz is not a pint!! But I agree, spirit measures are small and might in part be the fault of legislation.

But most importantly, I like the comparison with food that Boak makes. It's the overall experience that matters, not size. (So I'm told).

I firmly believe, though, what ever legislation does, the economics will ensure that prices even out. I don’t subscribe to the gallon-changing-to-litre-put-petrol-prices-up argument. I’ve researched it and overtime competition sorts it out, there is evidence that for some of the time petrol actually dropped in real terms compared to when it was sold in gallons - we all like to blame something.

Jeff said...

The notion that the BBPA represents in any meaningful sense "the trade" - as in individual publicans - is very strange. The notion that this is part of some kind of plot by evil publicans to rip people off is simply perverse.

It's all very well and good saying one supports the pub trade, but some people never seem to miss a trick in attacking it, often from a standpoint of woeful ignorance.

Tandleman said...

I rather doubt if the BBPA represents ordinary publicans at all, but they usually do speak as the trade body, like it or not. I will make that distinction clear in future comments about them. (But in all likelihood they represent whoever owns the bricks and mortar of most pubs, so they are scarcely without influence on publicans, evil or otherwise)

As for attacking the pub trade, well, sometimes they need to be attacked, just as sometimes they need to be defended. In this blog at least, I call it the way I see it at the time. Get it right? No. Not always, but that's where comments come in. They often put me right I'm happy to say.

By way of an aside our CAMRA Membership Secretary was visiting his daughter who lives in a posh Cotswold village. On ordering a half of a pint priced at £2.90, he was charged £1.60. Now you might say "fair enough" or you might think "that's a bit off". It might be right or it might be wrong. It might be a rip off or a justifiable mark up. Does it reflect well on the trade that this goes on? Maybe, maybe not , but at least it is an issue that can reasonably be discussed I'd say.

The Woolpack Inn said...

There is a case for charging more than pro rata for halves....

...but Tandleman is right .. discussion is good.

It goes without saying, really, that I agree with Jeff's comments above.

Jeff said...

I decided to round up to the nearest 10p when I entered my half pint prices in the till. So a pint of Star is £3.30, but a half is £1.70. On the other hand, a pint of Landlord is £3, so the half is £1.50. I don't that reflects badly on me, because I don't think beer needs to be sold like petrol.

Tandleman said...

I think rounding to 10p is fair enough actually. It is convenient and easy for change and nobody likes 5p's anyway. It gives a bit of margin on a smaller drink which is useful and probably fair.

As always though it is a question of reasonableness or fairness if you like.

Jeff said...

I wouldn't really introduce concepts of "reasonableness" and "fairness" into the mix. Pricing is just a business decision - customers vote with their wallets and feet, so aren't obliged to be "ripped off" if they think a pub is overpriced in one way or another.

Tandleman said...

Huh!

Jeff Frane said...

I found this one of the weirdest discussions you've had yet. WTF is a third of a pint? And two-thirds? Does that require at least four sets of glassware?

If a half-pint is too much for you, leave some behind (or slide it over to tandleman to finish off). It reminds me of the little old ladies in front of me in the deli, insisting on "five slices". Fussy.

Jeff said...

Jeff Frane, are you suggesting "Take it to the top" CAMRA members are a bit like old ladies? I don't think that's fair - old ladies can be quite sweet.