Some people take their beer pours very seriously. The British, for example, have a law called the Weights and Measures Act. It’s filled with all sorts of specifics, including that “draught beer and cider” must be sold in measures of “third, half, two-thirds of a pint and multiples of half a pint.” In America, no such rules exist and pours and glassware tend to be pretty haphazard. Plenty of American “pint glasses” aren’t even a pint: They are simply in the shape of a “pint glass,” often only actually holding 14 ounces. And even then, the extent to which they get filled is at the bartender’s discretion.
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Though some states like Michigan and Maine have tried to tackle this issue, taking the legislative route has been tricky. For instance, the governor of Maine vetoed a “fair pint” law that had passed in his state in 2015. But a new iPhone app, currently in beta testing, wants to take a different route to fair pours by putting the power in the hands of the drinking public.
Pour Authority is described as “a fun and simple way to measure, map, share and catalog your beer pours.” Though the idea of measuring your pour, as well as more advanced features such as using the price of your beer to calculate its the value, might be interesting, the concept of mapping and sharing pours is the element that could actually have an effect on the industry. In the same way that negative Yelp reviews can encourage a lousy business to clean up its act, if Pour Authority became popular enough to actually influence where people drink, crowdsourced “pour-shaming” could theoretically make a bar more conscious of actually filling its glasses. “This app is crowd-sourced quality control,” app creator Craig Robertson told his hometown paper, Madison, Wisconsin’s Capital Times.
Robertson also admitted, however, that the app could be used in a more annoying capacity: measuring your beer and then going back to complain to the bartender. Of course, app or not, most bartenders are happy to top up your pint of Bud Light if you feel like you got more foam than you deserved. Though, additionally, thanks to the aforementioned lack of laws, unless a menu specifically stated a measurement on it, a bartender isn’t required to give you a perfect pour for any other reason than he wants to provide good customer service.
Overall, Pour Authority has its heart in the right place, though it’s doubtful it’ll be able to have an impact the “beer shorting” problem. For an app that requires user data to succeed, the issue may be too niche to get a huge following. Plus, the app is only accurate with certain specific types of glassware, and variance in glassware is part of the problem to begin with. But Pour Authority has already succeeded in one important aspect: It’s once again getting us talking about the problems with underpoured beer. And raising awareness of the issue is probably the best way to raise the lines of our collective pours.