A strapping, healthy-looking man walks into a pub, and orders a half-pint. You immediately raise an eyebrow and think “hmm, something’s up here.” There must be some reason why he’s done that, because you’re sure he’d rather have a pint. Either he’s short of time, or short of money, or he’s driving and getting close to his personal limit.
The only reason that stands up as not being something of a distress purchase is if he’s a beer enthusiast/ticker who wants to try as many beers as possible. But that doesn’t apply if it’s a half of Carling or Bombardier.
Even the excuse that he wants to impress his boss or girlfriend with his sobriety doesn’t hold true nowadays – if that was his motivation he’d stick to soft drinks. Let’s face it, unless they’re beer geeks, men just don’t willingly drink halves.
This wasn’t always so, and I understand that in the first couple of postwar decades it was common for men of the more mature or genteel sort to drink half-pints of beer. But, by the time I started drinking in pubs in the mid-Seventies, that had largely vanished. Halves were for old codgers and the limp-wristed.
However, people seem quite happy to drink bottled beers of 330ml or even just 275ml, which is no more than a half of Stella, without any fear of being dismissed as wimps. Could it be that the two-thirds pint “schooner” measure, legal from last October, will be the way of “decontaminating” lower-volume drinking of draught beer?
A survey by Molson Coors says that two out of five British consumers would order two-third pint glasses if they were on offer, although just one in 10 are aware that the ‘schooner’ option exists.
I have to say I haven’t been in a pub so far showing any evidence of offering them. There would certainly be occasions I’d try them if they were available.
If they eventually take off, I can actually see them superseding halves much more than pints.