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Don’t Let Them Steal Beer From You AKA The Facts About A Real Pint

The is a public service announcement for Canadian beer lovers. I know it might sound hard to believe but there is a possibility you are being mislead by your favourite beer drinking establishment. This post is about how you know when its happening and what you can do about it. Beer is precious, folks. Don’t let someone deny you what you deserve.

Yesterday I was at a pub in Calgary called Point & Feather. I was perusing the beer craft selection, which was actually pretty decent, when I notice a note in fine print at the bottom of the menu that read “Pint 16oz” but it also listed a Stella Artois “pint” that was 14oz. I thought to myself that this is pretty odd since a pint is a unit of measurement. Think about this for a second. A unit of measurement is intended to be universal. A litre is a litre regardless of where you are or what you are measuring. A litre is defined by the metric system and cannot change. Same rule applies to a pint. To add to my confusion while I pondered the beer menu was one other point I knew was a fact.  In Canada a pint is actually 20 ounces! What the hell are these shifty bastards up to?

Dubious definitions of "pints" at the Point & Feather

Dubious definitions of “pints” at the Point & Feather

A pint is 20 ounces in Canada, honest

This isn’t the first time I have confronted this issue. It is becoming increasingly common to find restaurants and bars that sell you a 16oz drink and refer to it as a pint. Despite knowing that pint is actually 20oz, I never really confronted the issue. I have, however, discussed this with a bartender before and his explanation was that in what they were selling was a US pint, which is actually 16 fluid ounces. WTF? Yes, indeed on top of the fact that the haven’t adopted the metric system (US is one of three countries on the planet that does not use the metric system, the other two or Burma and Liberia. Yes that is true), they also use a different unit of fluid measurement than the rest of the world.

While the bartender’s US pint explanation does explain the smaller glass, and did pacify me for a while, it has nagged at me since because there is just one problem with his explanation; we are in Canada. In Canada any measurement that is called a pint has to be 20 fluid ounces, or the metric equivalent, 568ml.

It is not just me who says this. The unit of measurement that is defined as a “pint” is mandated by a government agency called Measurements Canada, which is responsible for defining and policing all things related to weight and volume. According to its website its primary purpose is to “ensure the integrity and accuracy of trade measurement in Canada through the administration and enforcement of the Weights and Measures Act and Regulations”.  Measurements Canada says a pint is 20 ounces.

How do they get away with calling it a pint when it’s less than 20oz?

So here is the deal with places like the Point & Feather; they are not allowed to sell you anything less than 20oz and still call it a pint. It isn’t allowed and is in fact against the law. Of course this hasn’t stopped a lot of places from selling 16oz pints in a way to shortchange you and, as I have now realized, they teach their staff to pacify you with their US pint explanation. Look at the menu above, not only do they say their pints are only 16oz, their Stella pint is 14oz?

This is like a car dealership selling you a 6 cylinder V8 engine. It just doesn’t make sense.  You can’t redefine the size of something whose name defines its size.

To be clear here, a bar or restaurant is not obligated to sell you a pint of beer. It is perfectly legal to sell any quantity as long as you specifically state the size. So for Point & Feather, it would be perfectly legit if they changed their menu to say “16oz glass” or “14oz glass”. If is becoming more common for places to state the volume on the menu so it is clear. But they CANNOT sell you something they call a “pint” and have it be anything less than 20oz.

What can we do about it?

So what is a person to do when they come across an establishment that is selling you a pint but giving you something else?  There are a few options:

  1. Leave and find a place that isn’t ripping you off – Do you really want to buy beer from a bunch of liars? Do you want to give your hard earned money to someone who is not giving you what you bought in return? There are plenty of places that offer real pints. Take your business there.

    The Unicorn proudly states that their provide real pints. A full 20oz!

    The Unicorn proudly states that their provide real pints. A full 20oz!

  2. Report them to Measurements Canada – If you feel like ramping things up to Dick Factor 9000, the good folks in the Federal government have actually set up a section of their website dedicated to filing complaints against establishments that misrepresent the size of the beverage the sell. Go ahead, sick the feds on them…they’ve earned it.
  3. Just suck it up and accept the fact you are getting hosed – Let’s face it. Sometimes you just have to drop the militant approach and just drink up knowing you are getting shafted.

In the meantime I am doing my part and spreading the message to the masses (or the 5 people who will actually read this). Go on people, let’s get what we are paying for. Only support places that serve a real pint!

3 comments on “Don’t Let Them Steal Beer From You AKA The Facts About A Real Pint

  1. Danny
    January 30, 2015

    As an Englishman I can only admire and salute you for this article and your dedication to not only beer but what is right in this world. I strongly suggest people follow points 1 & 2 of your recommendations.

    Long live the pint!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. geekosuave
    January 30, 2015

    Long live the pint!


  3. Andrew/
    August 16, 2015

    The US gallon is common here in Canada too! Along with US dates (Canadian dates are dd/mm/yyyy or yyyy/mm/dd) but no one (or not enough) seems to care


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This entry was posted on January 25, 2015 by in Rants and tagged , , , , .
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