What’s re­ally in a pint of beer?

Kapi-Mana News - - FEATURE - By AMY JACK­MAN

We love beer. Welling­ton hosts the largest an­nual beer fes­ti­val in the coun­try, 12 ded­i­cated craft beer bars and we would have drunk our fair share of the 300 mil­lion litres of beer con­sumed in New Zealand last year.

But there is one ques­tion that seems to bug many beer-drink­ing Welling­to­ni­ans. What ex­actly is a pint?

In the United King­dom a pint is 568.26 millil­itres, in the United States a pint is 473.17ml and in New Zealand a pint can be any­where be­tween 400 and 500ml de­pend­ing on which bar you go to and which beer you or­der.

British beer his­to­rian and au­thor of Beer: The Story of the Pint Mar­tyn Cor­nell said the size of a pint was de­ter­mined by the size of the gal­lon it was taken from.

‘‘The pint is one eighth of a gal­lon, and a gal­lon was orig­i­nally the vol­ume of eight pounds of wheat, mak­ing a pint the vol­ume of one pound of wheat,’’ he said.

‘‘By the 18th cen­tury a num­ber of gal­lons were recog­nised in Bri­tain, in­clud­ing the wine gal­lon and the beer or ale gal­lon. The Im­pe­rial Weights and Mea­sures Act of 1824 abol­ished all other gal­lon mea­sures and brought in the im­pe­rial gal­lon at 4546.09ml. The im­pe­rial pint, one eighth of this, is thus equal to 568.261ml.’’

The US adopted the 231 cu­bic inch wine gal­lon as its stan­dard gal­lon mea­sure, mak­ing a US pint 473.176ml.

The Malt­house in Courte­nay Place is one of the few bars in Welling­ton that serves a British pint.

Pro­pri­etor Colin Mal­lon said cost was a big fac­tor in why im­pe­rial pints were not pop­u­lar in Welling­ton.

‘‘I have been in New Zealand for nine years and 425ml has pretty much been the stan­dard,’’ he said.

‘‘The rea­son why we don’t of­fer this [UK pint] as the de­fault size is be­cause if a stan­dard beer, a Mac’s or Mon­teith’s, is cost­ing $8 these days and an im­pe­rial pint is 24 per cent big­ger, it means the cost of the beer is get­ting up to around $10. Also you would pay $10 for a craft beer in the stan­dard size, so it starts to get scary when you go up fur­ther.’’

Mr Mal­lon said the size of the pint they serve of­ten de­pends on the na­tion­al­ity of the cus­tomer.

‘‘If some­one comes in and says, ‘ Can I have a pint?’, then we de­fault to the 425ml size,’’ he said. ‘‘If some­one English comes in and asks me for a pint, I’ll clar­ify with them that the 425ml size is what Ki­wis call a pint and this is a real pint. Then they re­alise they would be pay­ing about £5 for it so they gen­er­ally go for the stan­dard size.’’

If you do or­der an im­pe­rial pint with 5 per cent al­co­hol con­tent, be aware that it is equiv­a­lent to 2.24 stan­dard drinks, while a 6 per cent beer would be 2.69 stan­dard drinks.

‘‘Most craft beers in New Zealand start at 5 per cent and up­wards.

‘‘So to be hon­est, if you are drink­ing four im­pe­rial pints that’s five-and-a-half of the stan­dard size,’’ Mr Mal­lon said.

‘‘‘‘So when you are get­ting up to 6 or 7 per cent al­co­hol, a stan­dard 425ml size is big enough.’’


How big: An im­pe­rial 568ml pint, a New Zealand 425ml pint and a 300ml half. Size does mat­ter: Colin Mal­lon of the Malt­house serves im­pe­rial pints if cus­tomers ask for them.

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