There’s an old saying: “A pint’s a pound, the world round.” Turns out that statement was never very true to begin with—the size of a pint is 19.2 fluid ounces in the UK compared to just 16 in the US, for instance. But some American bars have become especially loose with their definition of a pint. Once named a pint glass because it held 16 ounces, today the term “pint” often just means any glass that looks like a pint glass. It’s not uncommon to find pint glasses that actually only hold 14 ounces—or who knows what amount, really.
Maine state Sen. John Patrick wants to put an end to this measuring nonsense—in his state, at least. He proposed a bill requiring that pints of beer in Maine actually hold 16 ounces, foam not included! The standardized glassware rule would apply to bars, taverns, taprooms and restaurants.
Getting the beer you paid for seems like the kind of idea everyone could get behind, but at a recent public hearing, the Maine Restaurant Association and the Maine Brewers’ Guild objected to the plan, calling it needless additional regulation and objecting to the cost of having to get new glassware. “The glass industry would love it, but it would be difficult for our members to take on the costs,” Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Brewers’ Guild, told the Oxford Hills Sun Journal.
Somewhat surprisingly, similar attempts to pass laws regulating pints in other states have failed recently as well. In 2007, Oregon wasn’t able to enact their Honest Pint Act. And in 2013, Michigan looked to pass a similar measure, but it appears to have fallen by the wayside.
Meanwhile, it’s not unheard of to regulate pint glasses in other countries. Going back to our friends in the UK, the British have been certifying the size of their pint glasses since 1699.
I’m not sure if we need to replace glassware, but it would be nice if bars upheld the definition of a “pint” as the one we all learned back in elementary school. If a "pint glass" isn’t going to hold 16 ounces, how about just calling it a “glass.”