Honest Pints - 1991 Edition

Tonight I'll be headed off to taste Irish whiskeys and an 11-year-old stout with the eminent Stuart Ramsay. Although he is now known for his knowledge of whiskeys (or whiskys--Scotch is a specialty), he was at one time a beer writer for the Oregonian. And yesterday he forwarded me an article from 1991 that left my mouth agape. I have long tried to credit my predecessor at Willamette Week, William Abernathy, with launching the cheater pint crusade that I picked up in the honest pint project.

But I thought I had at least given the thing shape in the form of a name. Well, turns out even that was (however unwittingly) an appropriation. Here's Ramsay, writing almost exactly 18 years ago in a piece titled "An Honest Pint for a Fair Price."
To further complicate the issue, the customer is often the recipient of dishonest pours. The pint glass served in our drinking establishments is a "shaker" or "mixer" glass, and contains 16 ounces of liquid only when filled to the very rim. Distributors and tavern keepers know full well that foam equals profit. A glass with a half inch of head contains 14 ounces of actual beer; three quarters of an inch means 12 ounces of beer. In the chart, I calculated the fair price based on 15 ounces of beer. To give an example, the net profit on a keg of Widmer's at $2.75 a pint with a typical 14 ounce pour would be $308.50. With 142 "14oz." pints in the keg, the fair price works out to be $2.01 a pint. In Britain and many European countries, glasses have a line marking the true measure, and it is illegal to pour below this mark.

It seems that some form of consumer protection is required, to act as a watchdog or ombudsman over the breweries, distributors, and retailers, to encourage responsible drinking and pleasant gathering places, and to ensure an honest, fresh pint at a fair price.
So there you have it, the first stirring of the Honest Pint Project, written about three weeks after I turned 21. Obviously, I am very, very late to the party