Pint
Posted: 28 March 2013 09:40 AM   [ Ignore ]
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It was commonplace when I was younger to use this term in isolation to mean beer. For instance, I had a few too many pints last night, Fancy a pint?. The term could even be used in absentia. Just got time for a swift half.

A couple of questions. I rarely go to the pub now and when I do it will be shorts that I’m drinking so I’m not sure whether the pint usage still prevails. Has the incoming tide of the metric system washed it away now?  What about Australia? Was the usage common there? Is it still current?

And finally the States and Canada. I can’t recall ever hearing the term used in this way in US movies. Is draught beer or lager not usually sold there?

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Posted: 28 March 2013 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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"Pint” is not usual in the US, not because we don’t drink draught or lagers, but because the usual serving size of beer in the US is 12 oz (3/4 of a pint [0.62 of an imperial pint]).  The legal specifications must vary from state to state, but I suspect pint mugs would be illegal in some places (for taverns, not for private home use, though anything is possible under the 21st amendment).

[ Edited: 28 March 2013 10:20 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 28 March 2013 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Draft beer is frequently sold in the US. Nearly every establishment that sells wine and beer will have a draft beer on tap, and most offer a selection of several different brands and varieties. Many of the popular new “micro-breweries” have hand-crafted ales and beers on tap, often brewed in very small batches on-site. It’s a booming area of commerce.

Along with this boom, the phrase “having a pint” is more and more frequently heard. Some places advertise or at least boast that they serve true “British pints” rather than the standard US pint.

I am aware of no legal restrictions on the size of tavern beer being limited to less than a pint. Maybe in New York; I heard that large size soft drinks have recently been outlawed there. 

Most places I am aware of still sell pitchers of beer. But it’s been years since I’ve been to one as a consuming customer; maybe things have deteriorated further than I know.

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Posted: 28 March 2013 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The legal specifications must vary from state to state, but I suspect pint mugs would be illegal in some places (for taverns, not for private home use, though anything is possible under the 21st amendment).

Wikipedia has a rundown of the alcohol laws by state. While the usual Wikipedia cautions apply, there don’t seem to be any, or at least very few, restrictions on alcohol serving size. And in my experience, pint servings of draft beer are common throughout the US. And in brewpubs and upscale taverns pint serving sizes are the norm, although cask-conditioned ales and brews with exceptionally high alcohol content may be served in smaller glasses. Yet, using the word “pint” to mean “a beer” is indeed rare, and if heard would be considered faux-British.

Technically, a US pint is 20% smaller than an Imperial pint, but I believe that most bars in the US use Imperial pint glasses. (I’ve never measured, but they don’t appear smaller than the pint glasses in Britain or Canada.)

Wikipedia says that many Canadians use “pint” to mean “a large serving of beer,” rather than an actual pint, but my experience is that a pint here in Toronto is just that, a pint (Imperial).

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Posted: 28 March 2013 04:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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And it is increasingly common to have beer, particularly microbrewery beer, sold in pints in taverns, at least in my experience.

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Posted: 28 March 2013 08:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Re: Australia…

The pint is not the commonest drinking measure in Australia. Not all pubs even have pintglasses available: mostly it would be associated with English or Irish themed pubs or some upmarket establishments.

So an Australian would not be likely to say “I’m going for a few pints”.

The commonest measures are 285 ml and 425 ml, which are about equivalent to a half-pint and 3/4 pint respectively. The names for these measures vary across Australia.
There is a table in this article that covers most of the permutations of measure and location.
http://www.h2g2.com/approved_entry/A653339

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Posted: 29 March 2013 07:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I had a pint of Guinness in a Hartford bar just the other day.  But Americans don’t use “pint” in that elliptical way, unless of course they’re Anglophiles.

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Posted: 29 March 2013 07:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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In Canada, I’ve often been served a “sleeve” of beer. This is apparently an ill-defined expression, by means of which many Canadian beer-bibbers are ripped off (see this Vancouver Sun website, and many others).
http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2012/01/17/do-you-know-how-much-beer-is-in-your-glass-bet-you-dont/

Aldi: when I was a student in Liverpool, my landlady’s Uncle Herbert was a retired publican (not the tax-gathering type ;-). One evening, when somewhat in his cups, he told me about some of the (numerous and remarkably ingenious) ways in which a barman could diddle his customers when serving short drinks, while seeming to observe the law. --- Perhaps (in the interests of scientific inebriety) you should take a measuring instrument with you, next time you toddle down to the boozing-ken. You may be getting shorter shorts than you suppose ;-).

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Posted: 29 March 2013 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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That’s interesting, Lionello. I guess all merchants have their own little tricks (at least the dishonest ones), like the butcher’s thumb (I think that’s the expression), the sly digit that surreptitiously touches the scales. You’ve got me wondering now what little dodges the crafty publican has. I remember you always had to be careful that you weren’t offered a pint a quarter of which was the head. I’ll lay odds that zytho is a mine of information on this, as he is with all matters in this sphere.

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Posted: 29 March 2013 01:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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In Uncle Herbert’s time, spirits were measured out in small measuring vessels (fractions of a gill --- I have such a measure, put away somewhere), which were filled from the bottle and then poured into the drinker’s glass. According to Uncle Bert, a skilled bartender could retain about 10% of the liquor in the measuring vessel, while appearing to pour the whole lot into your glass. This was a favourite, said Uncle Bert, because it was untraceable. More lucrative, but risky, was to put a slice of potato in the bottom of the measuring vessel. If the bartender was caught, of course, there’d be the devil to pay, and criminal charges brought.  Nowadays, as a rule, the bottles are upended in plain view, and the liquor measured automatically (in Britain, at any rate), in doses of 25 ml or 35 ml. But human ingenuity is unbounded, and I’ve no doubt there are even now ways of shortening the volume of your “short”. I recommend drinking at home. That way, you can choose your company, and if you make the bottle the unit, you can’t go far wrong. Wacht heil, Aldi.

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Posted: 24 April 2013 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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There’s a wonderful Irish expression, ”pintsman”, meaning someone with a truly admirable capacity for the consumption of vast quantities of beer.

The standard Englishman’s public house beer vessel, until around the last decades of the 19th century, was the quart pot, which is what you will see almost everybody drinking from in Hogarth’s Beer Street. Only in these debased modern times have we sunk, like Hogarth’s impoverished Beer Street pawnbroker, to drinking mere pints.

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