Saturday, 24 May 2014

Mine’s a pint

A few months ago, I wrote a post about the history of electric real ale dispense. In this I mentioned that some pubs in Sheffield used to have metered pumps that dispensed a full pint rather than the usual half. This is something I have often heard mentioned but never saw with my own eyes.

With a few amendments, the blogpost appeared as an article in the May issue of the local CAMRA magazine Opening Times. In response to this, Ray Balawajder sent the editor a scan of a page from a 1977 Sheffield Pub Guide showing a metered pump of that precise kind, albeit in a Tetley’s pub, the Rutland Arms, rather than a Stone’s or Ward’s as I might have thought. The picture of the pump is shown on the right and the scanned page can be seen here. Ray says:

I visited quite a few Ward's and Stones' pubs in Sheffield in the late 70s and can't recall ever coming across a one pint meter - which doesn't mean that those company's pubs never used them. I did, though, find one in a Tetley pub - the Rutland Arms on Brown Street, just down from the station – in 1978. This was at the end of a boozy day out and a whole pint was just what we didn't want at that point. I'm told that we shared a pint and glass of lemonade.
I’m not really familiar with Sheffield so can’t comment on how those pubs compare today. The lack of choice is very noticeable – only four different beers on the whole page, and no pub with more than one cask beer available. I’m sure today there would be dozens. On the other hand, back in 1977 there would be much more cask beer being consumed in total, and in most of the pubs probably a lot more customers and a more varied clientele. The pub with “an interesting display of teapots” is very much a sign of a vanished world.

4 comments:

  1. I've never seen a pint meter, or heard of one until now, but my experience of drinking in Liverpool, Warrington and Southport in the 1970s was that most real ale was sold through electric meters. Handpumps were very rare.

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  2. Good job the descriptions have moved on from the cliched "friendly, popular local" variety.

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  3. It's all bitter. Except when it's mild.

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  4. Fondly remember growing up in Shropshire, drinking Wem Ales served in the old half pint piston method. Went back to the old pub - Seven Stars at Cold Hatton about 5 years ago. No Real Ale and the overriding smell of chips. Shall not be back again.

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