Pubs win pint-size battle

British government rules 95% full equals a complete pint

Mar 18, 2002 - Pubs owners celebrated a victory Monday when the British government ruled they must serve a 95% liquid pint, up from 90% but less than the 100% consumers groups pushed for.


"Pulling a pint is not a precise science but at the moment the worst offenders are consistently giving consumers a short measure," Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt said. "This change will give consumers better value for their money."

She said the new measure would put 60 million pints of beer into British bellies each year, or about four pints per drinker.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) quickly criticized the decision. Mike Benner, Head of Campaigns and Communications said, "The Labour Party has been promising a full pint since 1997 and now appears to be bowing down to big business and sticking two fingers up at Britain's 15 million beer drinkers by proposing to make it legal to serve pints of beer up to 5% short," said Mike Benner, Head of Campaigns.

The pub trade has long fought a 100% liquid pint, claiming it would cost millions of pounds in new glassware and wasted beer. The Department for Trade and Industry agreed and said changing glasses would cost the pub and brewing industry 95m.

"This debate has been going on for 25 years and it is really very pleasing that in the end it has been resolved in the best interests of the industry and the consumer," said Mark Hastings, spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

As long ago as 1991 the previous Conservative government announced it would enforce the 100% pint. It never did. The full pint was one of Prime Minister Tony Blair's election pledges, and as recently as January a government minister assured the House of Commons that "any short measure is a clear public scandal."

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