Home > Off the Beaten Beer Path > SimplPlea for Half pints

SimplPlea for Half pints

Let’s face it, once you get past the session beers, the alcohol rises and so does the price.  Its not uncommon for a pub to charge $6-8 a pint, and many brew pubs offer up to 10 or 11 unique brews.  After a flight of samples, there’s always two or three standouts that require further investigation.  And who knows, you may never have the chance to visit that brew pub again.  The problem, however, lies in the volume.

Yes, I realize that’s not a problem for some people.  I, on the other hand, have many useless talents, but holding my own has never been one of them.  So I’d like to pose a question that’s weighed on my mind for some time.  Why don’t more US bars, or at least beer bars and brew pubs, offer half pints?  On rare occasion I’ll come across a bar that serves half pints – most are brew pubs, and most of the time I have to ask.  In Great Britain, the bar keeper always did the asking, half pint or full pint?  In fact, that question is as common there as caf or decaf? Sweetened or unsweetened?  Rare or well-done?

Half pints offer so many benefits – less cost, more variety, and the option to maintain some level of sobriety, if needed.  Hey, you might even have some recollection of what you drank so you can blog about it the next day.

How does the business benefit?  Well, speaking from my own experience, if I’m driving, then I’d probably stop at one because two pints are too many (hey, I’m a responsible lightweight)…but a half pint might be just right.  So in essence, a half beer sale is better than no beer sale.  Makes sense, right?

Half pints are a win win!  And as we see more and more restaurants offering half size lunch portions and mini desserts – why not half pints?  Which brings me to my next question – shouldn’t every restaurant serve mini-desserts?

Cheers beers!

  1. Mike Roy
    April 13, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    At our brew pub we offer half pints. As far as what is in it for the business, generally speaking most bars/pubs will increase the cost of a half pint,so say a pint is $5.00, a half pint may run you $2.75 or $3. In my mind there’s no reason not to offer them, it also encourages customers to drink responsibly.
    Mike Roy
    Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery & General Store

    • April 14, 2011 at 6:29 am

      Hi Mike,

      Just one of the many reasons why we’re big fans of Franklin’s. And I’d happily pay more for a half pint, particularly if I have the opportunity to enjoy more of your great brews. Hope you got a chance to read about our visit to Franklin’s (one of many to come) – https://cheersbeers.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/franklins-brewery/. Thanks for stopping by and sharing the business point of view!

      Cheers Beers!

  2. April 13, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Yo Paula!

    I couldn’t agree more. As I have written on numerous occasions, I have a bit of an ADHD problem when it comes to food and drink. I like variety, especially when I am out and about. There is one bar that we frequent, The Pour House in Westmont, NJ, and they have about 20 craft brews on tap at all times. I have asked on numerous occasions about ordering a flight, but for whatever reason, they won’t do it on most nights. Like you said, sometimes a full pint is too much, especially if you plan on sampling a few different beer varieties or have to get behind the wheel to drive home. The only reason I can think of them not wanting to do it is the fact that they would then need to store more glassware. As far as price goes, I would happily pay half the price + $1 for a half pint. I think that’s a fair compromise. Whatcha think?


    • April 14, 2011 at 7:14 am

      Hey G-LO!

      I agree with you on all accounts! I’d definitely pay more for a better overall experience and for peace of mind knowing I can still drive home safely.

      My thoughts on glass storage? If you’re a beer bar, then beer glasses of any kind should take priority (e.g. move over margarita glasses and make way for half pints). Half pints take up half the space, and there are so many ingenious ways to store things these days – above the bar, beneath the bar, behind the bar, on the bar wall. If it makes money and makes the customers happy, then storage should be an issue worth figuring out.

      As for the Pour House, sounds like a good pitstop if we’re ever in NJ. I feel your pain though. We frequent a great beer bar called Frisco’s Tap House in Columbia, MD that has about 50 craft beers on tap (see my Frisco’s BeerVenture blog), and they don’t offer flights or half pints either. Plus, their list changes regularly, which makes it even more frustrating when there are so many great hard-to-find beers at your fingertips.

      Btw, I share your food and drink ADHD! Just makes life that much more interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts G-LO.

      Cheers beers!

    • April 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      If you’re ever in the vicinity of The Pour House, drop us a line. While the bars in Philly bars are my preference (walking from bar to bar is better than driving), The Pour House is on par with the best of them. I’m sure you’d enjoy it there.

  3. The Wookie
    April 14, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    As a 6’5″ – 215 lb walking carpet holding my own has never been a problem. With that said I would love to “sample” more in the time I have allotted for boozing. One nice thing is that the bar G-lo mentions above will allow us to taste most brews prior to committing to a pint. Also like most good beer bars it serves high ABV in 10-12 ounce chalices. But to answer the larger question of why most American pubs don’t offer flights or half pints I would suggest the following:

    1 – They would rather sell one large full priced beer to a drinker that will only drink half (like my wife) than sell that same drinker one half priced half pint.

    2 – Bigger is still better in our culture which is why you’ll find the 22 ounce “Big Glass” in more pubs than the half pint.

    3 – Most beer drinkers (not us) pick one beer and stick with it. I was in a pub earlier in the week that had a great beer from Magic Hat on special. When I ordered it the barkeep remarked “We can’t give that stuff away, everyone here drinks Yeungling.

    I guess, even though it’s growing, the craft beer world is not the majority beer world. Besides if you could taste everything at once it would take the fun out of the hunt for great beer.

    • April 16, 2011 at 7:45 am

      Hey Wookie! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think you’re absolutely right about our more is more society. The demand isn’t there, and its just not something people here consider because its not part of our culture. As the craft beer scene becomes more popular, and particularly as more and more women get involved, I can see growing potential for half pints.

      As for the chalices, yes, there are exceptions, and some bars that serve half pints will only make them available for certain beers. I’m fine with that.

      I also received a comment stating that many bars don’t know how to price half pints. See Mike Roy’s comment below – I think half the price of a pint plus a convenience fee is perfectly fair and I’d be willing to pay that price. I’ve also seen bars, who don’t offer half pint glasses, simply fill a pint glass halfway and charge half. Not typical, but it certainly shows that they’re willing to give the customer what they want – simple things like that are what keep us coming back.

      Perhaps as the craft beer market continues to grow and the “one beer” population slowly dies out, the half pint trend will take hold and become part of our culture. We shall see.

      Cheers beers!

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