Have you ever quaffed a pint of fine Oregon craft beer, set down your glass, and felt somehow… incomplete, as if that pint emptied faster than it should have?
It might not be that you were just getting your drink on. It could be that your beer was lying to you.
Not all pints are created equal. Some drinking establishments serve beer in glasses that may look like a pint, but don't actually hold a pint of beer. Since 2007, the Portland-based Honest Pint Project has been working hard to make sure that your beer is telling the truth, with certifications for pubs nationwide who serve honest 16 oz. pints.
Eugene is also ramping up its role. 16 Tons Bottle Shop recently rolled out their official Honest Pint glasses, with a logo designed by Ted Sobel of Oakridge's Brewers Union Local 180. The glasses have lines marking half-pint (8 oz.) and full-pint levels (16 oz.), and have been "certified" by fellow Eugene beer Kevin Williams of Beer and Coding in Eugene. (Many thanks to Kevin for undertaking the thankless work of pint-testing.)
Lie detecting your beer
That's all well and good that you can get Honest Pints (and, at 16 Tons, take the glass home with you for $3). How do you know if your beer is lying to you in the first place?
The key is the distinction between a "pint glass" and a "pint of liquid". A pint of liquid is 16 oz. of liquid. A "pint glass" — such as the ubiquitous shaker pint — may have a 16 oz. capacity, but once you factor in head your "pint" will only be about 14-14.5 oz. of liquid.
More dishonest though, is the thick-bottomed shaker pint. If the bottom of your pint glass looks thick enough to hammer nails, you'll be lucky if you have 14 oz. of beer to settle your slow boil.
What to do?
All is not lost, but admittedly, options are few. It's not illegal to use shaker pints or even thick-bottomed glasses, so your best options are to make your annoyance known to the owners and managers of offending pubs, and to encourage Honest Pints.
Shaker pints are nearly as prevalent as IBUs at an IPA fest. If the glasses have a thick bottom, your best option is to complain, request a better glass with more capacity, and/or let the management know that you only spend your money at places where you get your money's worth.
Remember that not all beers are a pint. The efforts of the Honest Pint Project are focused on an honest pint glass and an honest 16 oz. pint pour. This doesn't apply to every beer serving vessel, however. For example, Eugene's Bier Stein excels at serving beer in the vessel best for that beer. From goblets to schooners to glassware of all sizes, they match pour to brew — not relevant to the shaker pint/pint glass focus we're hitting here.
The Honest Pint Project site can also help. Their FAQ advises on dealing with dishonest pints, and HPP also lists pubs nationwide who have been certified as "Purveyors of Honest Pints". (As of this writing, 16 Tons is working on their "official certification".)
Encourage your favorite watering holes to get certified and show they're honest. The Honest Pint Project site also has tips for how you can get pubs certified.
In the meantime, head to fine places who are certified and who are working on certification. In Eugene or Oakridge? Get to know an Honest Pint at Brewers Union or 16 Tons. If at 16 Tons, remember to take home a few Honest Pint glasses for use in your "personal pub".
After all, there's nothing worse than lying to yourself.