ALE Spring 2003 No. 309

Full Pints - The Saga Continues

The National Audit Office has called for a modernisation of Weights & Measures legislation to stop beer drinkers being served short measures in pubs.

It estimates licensees are selling an extra 200 million pints of beer each year than they buy in, with a wholesale value of 130 million.

CAMRA's own research shows that 9 out of 10 pints sold in British pubs are less than 100% liquid and that 1 in 4 pints are less than the industry's own guidelines of 95% minimum liquid. (Licensees take note: a JD Wetherspoon in Gateshead was fined 5,000 in February for serving short pints.)

CAMRA has been campaigning for 'an honest pint law' for many years, but current Government proposals for a 95% minimum pint rule will still leave beer drinkers short-changed by millions of pounds every week and will be difficult to enforce.

The pubs industry is still campaigning hard against any change, claiming that (unlike, say, petrol) less than a full measure is acceptable. They tend to confuse the issue by equating full measures to mandatory use of lined (oversize) glasses but that's just one way of ensuring full measures. (Another is to use metered dispense; another is to top up without being asked.)

The only pubs we know of in the branch area which used lines glasses are the Free Press in Cambridge and the Waggon & Horses in Milton. On the other hand, it has been reported to the Editor that a pub near the Grafton Centre in Cambridge proclaims on a board behind the bar that they serve beers with a `traditional head' (whatever one of those is) and that if customers would like to have their drink topped up, they are free to ask. In other words, an institutional policy of short-changing customers unless they've made the effort to ask for what they've actually paid for.

Meanwhile Wolverhampton & Dudley have had to drop their policy of using lined glasses in managed pubs due to conflicts with suppliers' branded glasses and new beer dispense systems. It has been an important marketing tool for the company - guaranteeing a full pint.

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Cambridge & District CAMRA