Thursday, 20 August 2015

Make your minds up!

Go back a few years, and it was common for a man ordering a round of drinks in a pub including a half-pint to be asked by the bar staff “and is that half for a lady, Sir?” If you said No, you would get a smaller version of the pub’s standard glass, probably a Nonik or tulip. If you said Yes, you would get a stemmed beer glass of various designs, or at least one with a thick, splayed base. Understandably, this was widely seen as patronising and sexist, and you don’t tend to hear it any more. Surely there is no reason why the glasses used by men and women should not be identical.

But, on the other hand, you often see articles such as this and this arguing that pint glasses put women off drinking beer, which seem to imply that women actually do have different tastes in glassware from men. I think there are several things going on here, including a dislike of traditional macho pint-drinking culture, and not really wanting to drink beer in that kind of volume. It’s not simply a dislike of Noniks and dimpled mugs.

Few pubs outside of specialist bars have taken up the recently introduced two-third pint measures, but every pub serves halves, and I’m sure most, if asked, would produce a stemmed half-pint glass of some kind. Maybe pubs should make more effort to stock stylish half-pint glasses, but other customers would object if they were offered as the default, and is that going to make much difference in the overall scheme of things anyway?

This kind of thing is easy to say, but it’s more difficult to define exactly what pubs are expected to do about it. Recently we have seen a large rise in the number of distinctive brand-specific glasses used, although they normally only come in pint sizes and are usually just for keg beers and lagers. This is a conscious attempt to make glassware more appealing, although personally I find many of the designs unattractive and over-tall, and the stemmed ones, such as the Stella goblet, are particularly horrible. I don’t think stemmed pints are really what is being requested.

I don’t believe, though, that it’s in any sense sexist or discriminatory to say that women have different tastes in glassware from men, as they do in many other spheres. And, deep down, I suspect one of the things women dislike more than men about pub glasses of any kind is that they are brim measures with the attendant risk of spillage. But that isn’t going to change any day soon, and neither is the position of the pint as the predominant beer measure.


  1. It's a sweeping generalisation to suggest glassware preferences are gender- based, but regarding branded glasses, most are abominable, especially Meantime's "In a Glass of it's Own". Cringe. And about brand recognition rather than anything else.

  2. I think glassware in pubs is generally a let down, and could do with a bit of an overhaul anyway. Particularly half pints, where a nonic is just a bit rubbish.

    In terms of women though, I think far more of the problem is if people make assumptions about what they want based on their gender. There's no point faffing around having some nice glasses if when a woman orders something a bit strong/dark etc they get met with "Are you sure?".

  3. I think the big difference is between
    i) observing that a significant proportion of women will prefer certain sorts of glassware and hence that it may makes sense to have it available and
    ii) assuming that all women will prefer one sort of glassware and all men will prefer another, and hence giving it to them without asking.

    In the original example, it'd hardly be more effort to ask whether they want a stemmed half glass or a straight one.

    For my part, I normally prefer stemmed half glasses, because if I'm drinking a half rather then a pint then it's almost always because it's a pretentious sipping beer rather than a good honest supping beer and hence I want the pretentious glassware to go with it.

  4. Whatever the design, a pint glass is still a pint glass, and personally I find a Nonik or tulip far preferable to a conical, a Willibecher, anything that looks like a flower vase, or anything with a stem. The San Miguel branded glass is just as bad as the Stella one.

  5. As beer bloggers seem to prefer personal anecdote over carefully collected datasets I'll offer you one of my own.

    I read one of the posts linked to in this article to my girlfriend last night:

    "He says women like fancy glassware"

    "Oooh yes"

    "He also says women don't like pints"

    "What bollocks"

    Make of that what you will...

  6. It's the insistence on filling glasses to the brim that's part of the problem. Nowt wrong with lined glasses.

  7. How do you carefully collect a dataset of what you personally prefer? Surely you tend to know what tyou like.

  8. @Rob - lined glasses is a whole different can of worms ;-)

    But I'm convinced that a brimming "elegant" glass is more offputting than a brimming half-pint Nonik, and not only to women.

  9. Me and a mate got two pints of the new Theakstons Barista Stout last week. Aside from the fact it's bloody delicious, the branded serve is a pint stemmed vase which frankly looks daft.

  10. Several random points (without any data sets to back them up!)

    Fancy glasses tend to get stolen fairly quickly until they've been around for a while!

    If each beer/lager had its own dedicated glass there wouldn't be the shelf space in most pubs to keep a sufficient number of each - pints and halves

    The advantage of the Stella 'Chalice' is that when it comes out of the washer and is still warm when filled, the warmest part isn't in contact with the ice cold lager, unlike with a Carling glass!

    I actually prefer the fancy glasses...and I'm not a lady!

  11. I agree with Mudgie more often than not, but...


    They really are. It means I can drink my preferred measure (a full, Imperial, King's pint) without my hot and sweaty palm warming it up against my wishes every time I take a gulp, and without having to use a handled dimple jug that makes me think of 1970s keg bitter.

  12. I would have thought in the Mudgie pub is would be Nonics or nowt, and what women want would be no more a consideration than what the kids want.

  13. Stemmed pint glasses are great for improvising into weapons. So I'm told.

  14. SEXIST!!!!

  15. I remember walking into a Manchester pub in the 80s with my girlfriend and ordering two pints. "Would you like a pint and two halves?" came the response.

  16. Dimpled mugs are perfect for a half-pint. So nostalgic. It's time to introduce them to a new generation of pub-going ladies.



Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval. See here for details of my comment policy.