Friday, 2 March 2012


"When you have lost your inns, drown your empty selves, for you will have lost the last of England"  Hillaire Belloc 1870 – 1953

When you are served 7/8ths of a pint of beer – you are faced with a dilemma... Do you ask for you beer to be topped up or hand over 7/8ths of the full pint price? 

I place lot of importance on beer heads: too much of a head is undesirable because it detracts from the mass of the drink but on the other hand, a beer drink is viewed as incomplete unless it has a head of some sort. Some view beer heads as important because they give off the aroma of the beer. Another opinion is that it is important for the aesthetic look of the beer. Under-filled pints is a widespread practice that costs drinkers as much as £500m a year.

A Sunday Mirror ­investigation last year found two thirds of UK pubs short-changed customers by up to 25p a pint. Their findings were raised with Consumer Affairs Minister Ed Davey by the GMB union, which claims hard-up landlords face financial pressure to under-fill glasses. The union says owners set sales targets that can only be achieved by serving customers less beer.

Industry leaders say the head is an essential part of the pint and customers can ask for a top-up if necessary. It’s worth adding that, in my view, as often as not short measures result simply from sloppy bar practice rather than from any deliberate intention to short-change the customer.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) previously launched a petition calling on the government to end what it describes as a 'rip off'. It claims that one quarter of all pints served fall short of the required 95% liquid content and is costing beer, lager and cider drinkers £1.3m per day. It says its claims are backed up by several Trading Standards surveys carried out since 2004.

The crux of the argument is whether the head (the frothy top) constitutes part of the pint. The drinks trade says it does. In 2005, the last time legislation for a full pint was attempted, the Brewers and Licensed Trade Association argued it would add annual costs of £250m, which would be passed on to customers. CAMRA argues that from a measurement point of view, beer should not be treated differently from petrol or milk and a pint should be 100% liquid.

The thought occurs to me that you are paying well over a £1.00 in Excise Duty and VAT with each pint of beer – and I reckon I’ve paid enough tax in my working life to fund two Centurion tanks, an NHS maternity unit and at least one Royal wedding. When I ask for a pint of beer - that's what I expect - nothing more and certainly nothing less...

The Fountain Hotel
Market Place
North Yorkshire DL8 3RD
Tel: 01969 667206

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