Keeping Your Pints Honest

Oregon’s House recently passed the “Honest Pint Act,” which would allow drinking establishments to display state-issued stickers certifying that their pint glasses actually hold 16 ounces, as opposed to the 13- and 14-ounce glasses that some bars try to pass off as pints. The act is predicted to cost at least $20,000, not including the price of pint “measuring tools.” House Republicans, meanwhile, think full pints should be the least of Oregonians’ concerns. (HT: Eric Samuelson) [%comments]


This is such wasteful legislation and an overreaching government act.

On the other hand, I do like my pints to be pints.

It's hard being a drinking libertarian.

Sail Boffin

How British of them. Didn't we fight to get away from her (or at that time his) majesty.

Ah well, god save the queen!

Mr Eugenides

Of course, you are already being sold short, because a pint is actually 20oz (at least a proper British pint is).

We get round the problem of short measures by requiring all proper pint glasses to display the Crown on them to demonstrate that they are genuine, as for example in this picture.

Gordon Feighner

I would like to cllarify before anyone starts complaining about costs. The program (sponsored by my local rep here in Portland) would fund itself through user fees. Participation would be voluntary, so tavern owners would not be forced to switch over their glassware if they are currently using "cheater" pint glasses. The primary objective of the legislation is to assure consumers that any bar displaying the Honest Pint logo is actually serving at least 16oz of beer per pour. There will be no active enforcement, although it is unclear what the repercussions would be if a certified establishment serves a short pour (I'm guessing public shaming is about it).


In England, we have a Weights and Measures law. Try serving a short pint and you'd better bring a toothbrush to the magistrates court: it's a criminal offence!

You *might* get away with a ?2000 fine but the Trading Standards Officers might press for a fine for every individual short measure they were served when they came 'round to check.

Also, the pub or bar's licence will be reviewed and repeat offenders get closed down.

As for this being tyranny and an over-reaching state, the business is free to serve whatever measures it wishes: but those measures are clearly-stated, displayed on a tarriff-board, and you serve exactly what you say you'll serve. That's freedom enough, and there's a clear role for the state ( and a very clear and vocal voter demand!) in suppressing a fraud that was once very common: think of it as the state fulfilling its proper role as a vehicle that allows us to pursue or protect our interests collectively in cases where it is difficult to do so individually.



So is there some awesome legislation that would've fixed Oregons high unemployment sitting on the back burner and not getting passed because they were too busy working on this beer pint bill? I'm a little skeptical


I don't think this is wasteful... certainly mundane though. Oregon is not the only state to issue such regulations. Stems from people using the term "pint" too loosely. Bars are really referring to the glass which is commonly referred to as a "pint glass"... which, of course, can vary by a few ounces.

And for those complaining, since when does government really attempt to solve "big problems?" And do you think government CAN solve big problems? Wouldn't that be a move toward the dreaded "Socialism?" As long as the price of gasoline and beer don't vary too much, Americans really don't care.

Give me an "honest pint" any day. Cheers

Jeff Alworth

For those anti-government types who believe nothing requires the hand of government, let me put a question to you. Should we let the market decide what a "gallon" is when, say, gasoline is the commodity?

This proposal grew out of my grassroots Honest Pint Project. ( ) Although I was pushing it as a non-governmental remedy, I support this bill. It has all the hallmarks of good policy: it increases transparency, employs a carrot rather than a stick, provides an even playing field for businesses, and costs the state very little. While it's true that there are bigger fish to fry in Salem, that is always the case. We don't ignore little issues just because we also have bigger ones. As the President said, it is possible to do more than one thing at a time.

And anyway, isn't it nice to think about beer rather than torture and credit default swaps once in a while?


Not so fast

Mr. Eugenides, while an English pint is indeed 20 oz., Imperial fluid ounces are slightly smaller than are American fluid ounces. An Imperial fluid ounce is approximately 28 ml, while an American fluid ounce is approximately 30 ml.


Good. Weights and measures mean nothing if they are not consistent. Probably one of the most legitimate things that can be done by government is to define the weights and measures used in commerce. If a bar advertises that they are serving pints then should actually serve pints, just like if a grocery store advertises bananas at 99 cents a pound they better not "mean" 99 cents for half a pound.

But wouldn't "pint measuring tools" just be a glass known to hold a true pint? Fill it with water, pour it in the glass being tested, and see if it overflows...


This reminds me of a restaurant in my youth that served soft drinks in small, medium, and large sizes. Although the medium and large cups were different sizes, they were of similar volume.


My wife and I hit this issue at a chain restaurant that had buy one, get one free pints of beer for a happy hour.

Funny thing was that the glasses for the beer and cola/water looked the same height/diameter but the beer glass was twice as heavy due to the chunk of glass that made up its bottom that eliminated a couple of ounces from the drink...


I'm surprised this wasn't already covered by the Weights and Measures Department? Sounds like duplicate legislation to me...


In Germany when they sell a poured drink the size in centiliters is listed in the menu and the glass has the volume with a line on it to indicate a full pour. They take their alcohol seriously.

Bobby G

MM said:

"As long as the price of gasoline and beer don't vary too much, Americans really don't care."

Yeah, who cares about things like taxes or health care or the stock market or their credit rating?

Jeff Alworth

Jackie, it's because the infrastructure required to regulate pint glasses in pubs and restaurants would be vast. When I started the project, I inquired with the weights and measures folks in the Dept of Agriculture, but they have no triggering legislation nor funding to support monitoring.

This bill creates a system that rewards good behavior rather than trying to regulate bad behavior.

Erik H

Now we just need labeling that ensures an 1/8 oz. bag is truely 3.5 g....


Tall, Grande, Vente, make up the names so no-one has a clue as to how much should be in the glass. Or maybe we can have fair coffee cup legislation next, and then Dixie cup, and plastic cup, and tea cup...yeah that's it let's pay to certify that every vessel we drink from meets Federal, State and local capacity standards.


So Oregon is spending money paying people to go around and measure pint glasses and the house republicans think they should be creating jobs instead?

Does not compute.


(To some of you)

Quit your whining! Crikey! You don't think this makes sense? "Ooooh.. big scary government intrusion.. save us! It's the government!" The law says you can sell whatever you want to, but if you want to certify that your pints are pints (well.. 16oz) then we (the people) will provide a mechanism.

You buy any meat lately? Gas?

Get a grip people.