Pints are one of the greatest things ever.
I understand that applying that level of hyperbole to a drinking glass is probably a bit excessive, but the pint is such a joyous, and yet totally confusing thing, that it feels right to say so.
The joy of a pint is easy - it is a big beer.
But then there is the confusion aspect that really adds to the mystique - why are they serving beer in 568ml glasses? It is a pretty weird measurement.
In general the fight between the metric and imperial systems in the UK is a bit unusual. Based on informal discussions the UK measures liquids in ml/cl/L (including petrol), other than glasses of beer (pints) and bottles of milk (also pints, though I think they do have the amount in ml written on the bottle too). People refer to their weight in stones(which I have never been able to grasp), but the weight of other objects in kilos(like a bag of onions - I wonder how big a stone of onions is?). Distance is in meters, unless it is between cities in which case it becomes miles (or horse races, which are in furlongs, which no one has ever pretended to actually understand).
Being in this country really makes you appreciate the metric system more (I always knew it was better, but once people around you are actually using imperial measurements in conversations the metric system gets more points).
They also use Celsius, as far as I can tell. But I am not sure that temperature fits this discussion - is Celsius a metric measurement? Should we be using Kelvin?.
Anyway, to focus on the pint, at least in the UK you know that every time you are poured a beer, the glass will be a pint (even plastic glasses are most often pints). It is comforting to know that is at least a standard (it helps with understanding the relative expensiveness of pubs).
Meanwhile, in Europe, you can never know what you are ordering...
In Europe I think the standard for a large beer is 500 ml (sometimes 1 liter, depending on the country), but you will equally see as many 45cl glasses or other random sizes. In that way, Europe is like New Zealand - pints don’t exist. The difference is in New Zealand bar staff will often serve beers that they call pints which are actually far smaller.
To confuse the pint further, the pint in America is actually smaller. For some reason the UK pint is 20 ounces, while in the US it is 16 (don't get me started on what an ounce is?).
There are only two potential downsides to the pint that I can think of:
- They are bigger than the beers you are used to drinking. Initially you might think this is a benefit as you get more beer, but the reality is you need to grasp the fact that a pint can be like 2 and a bit standard drinks, yet you will be drinking them like they are normal sized beers.
- They make drinking normal beers (bottles or cans) feel very weird. Even cans in England tend to be 440, 500, or 568ml, so when you find yourself on a Barcelona beach buying cans from some guy with a plastic bag a 330ml can feels like a beer for a child.
In the end, pints are great, but, surely the metric system is better and we should all use that instead?
While we are on the topic, another benefit of England, is you can buy jugs of Snakebite if you are so inclined