Brews News

So you just bought a draft beer at a bar or restaurant. If you’re in Asheville, you’re typically paying anywhere from $3.75 to $6 for a pint.

But wait. Did you get a full pint for your cash? A standard American pint equals 16 fluid ounces. But not all “pint” glasses are equal. Some may look like they’re the same size as a true pint, but because the glass on the bottom or the sides is thicker, they only hold 14 ounces. While that’s just a two-ounce difference, if you’re offered the choice of 14 ounces or 16 ounces for the same price, which are you going to choose?

Turns out there’s something called the Honest Pint Project (honestpintproject.org). It’s a Web-based effort to promote the use of true 16-ounce pint glasses to serve draught beer in this country.

When Xpress learned about this initiative, we thought it would be fun and educational to set up our own local Honest Pint Project. To start off, I visited, unannounced, randomly chosen beer purveyors around town with the 16-ounce measuring cup from my kitchen and my camera in hand (see results below). I’ve also included the average price per pint for comparison purposes.

The cost analysis is based on the cost of a typical locally crafted session beer, such as Highland Brewing’s Gaelic Ale. Beers that are higher in alcohol (such as Belgians) or have unusual or organic ingredients typically cost more per pint.

Feel free to point us to certain bars or restaurants if you feel they might be misrepresenting their glass size. The goal here isn’t to embarrass anyone — it’s just to see if we can get all the beer purveyors in Beer City, USA, to be transparent, so to speak, about their glassware.

Pint sizes and cost analysis of draught local craft beer per ounce:

Glass size Cost   Cost per ounce Where
16-ounce   $3.75   23.4 cents     Barley’s, Usual Suspects, Tingles,’ Asheville Pizza & Brewing
14-ounce   $3.75   26.8 cents     Mellow Mushroom
16-ounce   $3.95   24.7 cents     Marco’s Pizzeria
16-ounce   $4     25 cents       Wild Wings, DeSoto Lounge, The Grey Eagle, Pack’s Tavern (average)
16-ounce   $4.50   28.1 cents     Burgermeister’s, Thirsty Monk (average)
16-ounce   $5.50   34.4 cents     The Orange Peel (plastic cup)

Thus, an ounce of beer at $3.75 per glass at Mellow Mushroom is 14-percent more expensive than a beer of the same cost at Barley’s or anywhere else that uses the same pricing for a 16-ounce pour. However, the cost per ounce for craft beer is 20 percent more at Burgermeister’s and The Thirsty Monk because of the higher price per pint (though that’s an average cost at the Monk), and 47 percent more per ounce at The Orange Peel (luckily, that’s not where people typically go to get their beer on).

Also, remember that different beers have different heads (i.e. Belgians tend to have a thick, creamy head), which can change the pour slightly. One bartender told me that all pints should have a two-finger head. I disagree. The head depends on the beer — some lagers and wit beers can be tapped with almost no head. Know that it’s perfectly acceptable to ask your bartender or server for a top-up if you ever feel a pour is off.

Every glass tested that came from an actual craft brewery (Pisgah, Highland, Sweetwater, etc.) was a true 16-ouncer, so look for those. I didn’t visit the actual breweries because they’re consistent with their use of 16-ounce glasses, and typically offer lower prices per pint (you’ve cut out the shipping costs). Also, note that these breweries often give their labeled glassware to bars and restaurants (inexpensive advertising), so the argument that the expense of glassware is a reason to use smaller glasses isn’t particularly valid.

This analysis, of course, is all pennies and ounces. But, if you’ve ever counted a mason jar full of pennies or cleaned up two ounces of baby barf, you know that these small units can seem pretty big.

Buy your tickets for Oktoberfest

Tickets for the Asheville Downtown Association’s Oktoberfest on Wall Street on Oct. 9, are $25 on sale at ashevilledowntown.org. Asheville Brewing Company, Craggie, Green Man, Highland, French Broad and Pisgah will serve brews, including a number of Oktoberfest styles. The Stratton Mountain Boys will return with Oktoberfest music, and Cucina 24, Jack of the Wood and The Market Place will be serving up German foodstuffs.

— Send your brews news to Anne Fitten Glenn at brewgasmavl@gmail.com

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