Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vancouver Licensees Beware the Pint Police

A sleeve is not a pint, or even close to one,
so don't call it one!!!
In Canada, 20oz = pint, nothing more, nothing less
I don't know about you but I am getting fed up with being mislead, whether intentionally or not, by bars and restaurants who advertise pints and serve sleeves.

Twice in the last few weeks I have seen restaurants on Commercial Drive advertising "pint" specials when they were serving sleeves, which are between 20-40% less in volume depending on which version of the hated glassware is being employed.

This pisses me off to no end as it is misleading at best and downright dishonest if the misrepresentation is advertised knowingly.

A few Mondays ago I notice Falconetti's tweeting about an all-day "pint" special. I tweeted back a few times asking if they were in fact serving 20oz pours and was met with silence. Later in the day, I walked past the restaurant, on my way to the park with my kid, and noticed a "pint" special advertised on their sidewalk chalkboard outside the restaurant. Curious, I stuck my head it the door and there was not a pint glass to be seen. Just to be sure, I called to enquire, and was told "pints" were apart of the Monday special and when I asked if it was actually a 20oz pour or a sleeve, the response was, "technically, I guess you are right, we serve 16oz sleeves."

Technically, really?

I wonder if I offered them $3.60, which is 20% of the $4.50 they were advertising their "pints" of lager for on Twitter, if I would have been told I was technically right as well?

I don't think that would have been acceptable to them as it should not be acceptable for consumers to be mislead. I would have been very pissed off if I had seen their tweet, traveled specifically to Falconetti's for this great pint deal only to receive a sleeve.

Eventually, after yet another tweet, where I pointed out that their tweet and sidewalk chalkboard board were inaccurate, whoever is in charge of Falc's Twitter account corrected their mistake and tweeted to clarified that they did, in fact, serve sleeves.

A few days later, while walking down Commercial, I noticed Timbre advertising "all draft pints $4" on their sidewalk chalkboard out front of their establishment.

'Wow, what a great deal," I said to my wife, better check this out." I stuck my head and was not too surprised to see that this too-good-to-be-true offer was in fact too good to be true.

Later, when I got home, I queried on Timbre's Facebook page if they did serve pints and immediately they answered back that they did serve sleeves. When I mentioned the chalkboard advertising, they responded it must have been an "oops" and that they would correct the problem.

I don't know if these mistakes, which are not isolated to Commercial Drive or these two places, are a result of some generational information gap for those raised on the metric system, failure to pay attention to detail or intentional misrepresentations. The Imperial System is as foreign to some as hops are to Alexander Keith's IPA, but that should be no excuse for attracting patrons into their establishments with what is basically false advertising, whether intentional or not.

I come from an age when a pint was a pint, sleeves did not exist and millilitres and litres were weird European concepts, but the majority of today's generation of servers and bartenders are from a different era, the era of the metric system and the non-standardized sleeve glass. But they need to learn that "pint" is not just a generic term for a serving of draft beer, no matter the size. The term pint has the official and legal volume in Canada of 20oz (1 gallon is 160oz, pint is 1/8 gallon), as per the Federal Weights and Measures Act, or in today's money, 568ml.

The term sleeve has no legal or standard volume attached to it in Canada and is a term invented by the pub and restaurant industry to decrease serving sizes and increase profits.

I am not stating that either Falconetti's or Timbre were intentionally misrepresenting their serving sizes because frankly I don't know, and I commend them both for publicly admitting and fixing their mistakes, but obviously someone at both locations did not know that a pint is an actual measure, at least I hope that was the case. I am quite sure these same folks would not advertise a dozen chicken wings knowing full-well that a dozen is defined by the number 12 and knowing that their serving sizes were much less than 12 wings.

So why is it okay to do this with beer?

CAMRA Vancouver, with the Fess Up to Serving Sizes Campaign (FUSS), have tried to address the misrepresentation of serving sizes here in Vancouver and even had the cause brought forth in the BC Legislature by NDP MLA Shane Simpson, but the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch have done little to ensure licensees do not mislead consumers and Rich Coleman, the Cabinet Minister responsible for alcohol, basically stated it did not matter.

But it matters to this consumer and as a result of being fed up with this problem, I am going to start waging a one-man war against this misrepresentation of draft beer serving sizes. It is us, the consumers, that must put pressure on licensees to change if we want to see change. I know others out there are frustrated and even angry about this issue. I, for one, intend to start trying to apply some pressure.

Stay tuned for future posts related to the Pint Police... 


  1. Quite the imperialist. 1/8th of a US gallon is 473mL i.e. 16oz.

  2. Quite relevant if I lived in the USA, and the places I am blogging about are in the US, but I don't and they aren't.
    I live in Canada, where the US gallon and US pint are not legal measures. Our currency is called the dollar and so is the American currency, so does that mean when it suits retailers, they can just advertise dollars and then demand which ever one, $Cnd or $ US, to be the legal tender of the day?
    Am I Imperialist? Decidedly no. Am I Canadian, yes.
    We kept the UK Imperial system right up until we converted to the metric system and never adopted the US measures...

  3. Is there anywhere that someone is collecting info on who is advertising sizes in which amounts? I know, for example, that St. Augustine's menu says that most pours are 14oz, PortlandCraft's board says 16oz (a US Pint) or 20oz next to the individual beers, and Habit's menu says that their beers are all 20oz. I heard that the Whip was offering 20oz pints, though haven't confirmed. I'm not so sure about Alibi or any of the other watering holes around.

  4. Why am I not surprised I'm friends with the two people who have posted...

    I have zero problem with 16 oz sleeves, I actually prefer them if I'm at a place with a varied selection so I can have that extra beer in the night. I just want to know what I'm getting when I order.

    Whip does 20 oz pints, but also offers 16 oz sleeves, which is perfect as far as I'm concerned.

  5. I agree with the last comment. I am only trying to point out that it is important to accurately tell people what they are ordering, not advocating for pints over sleeves or any other size. I the world of strong craft beer sometimes to much is not a good thing!!

  6. Tim, actual a 16 oz drink would not be a US pint, it would be 15.37 US liq ounces as the USoz is larger than the imperial....