Morning essay on drinking beer in American bars & brewpubs compared with the British pub experience (after learning to appreciate really good beer in Germany in my youth – mostly lagers and weissbiers – and living on and off in Oxford, England since 2012):
After another in a long line of disappointing beer experiences in American brewpubs and bars, I decided to finally look into this comparative pint and pint glass situation, and it is worse than I feared. First, an American pint is 16 ounces or 473 ml, while a British/Commonwealth/Irish Imperial pint is 568 ml. Who cares, you say? Because we are talking about beer and whether or not you are getting your money’s worth!
It gets worse. Because there are no laws and no effective nationwide advocacy groups like CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) looking out for the public, American pints of 16 ounces are often underpoured to 14 ounces to allow for the foamy head inside the top of a glass that may or may not even be 16 ounces! I was once even served in a cognac glass at a microbrewery when I ordered their darkest beer!!! Then factor in that even decent American micro-brewery beers and lagers (much less all the more popular “light beers”) generally have a good bit less alcohol than the stronger British and Irish beers, ales, bitters, porters, and stouts, and that just finding a dark beer in most bars is an impossibility (much less one on draft).
This leads to the conclusion that drinking beer in the US is pretty sad and pathetic compared with the exalted Vallhalla-esque experience of drinking locally-made real pints of much stronger beer all across the UK from Kent in England to Cardiff in Wales and from Land’s End in Cornwall to Culloden in Scotland. Now here’s an area in which Britannia still rules! And it’s in no danger of seeing its Empire of Ale crumble, largely thanks to CAMRA, which basically has been saving the British beer industry, pubs, and the beer-drinker’s experience from Corporate Bollocksism for the last 40 years or so!
Now, the state of Michigan appears to be ahead of the curve on such things due to its rather large number of microbreweries, but the US essentially needs its own nationwide version of CAMRA to begin to rectify this awful situation. Until then, I’ll just have to continue drinking my Guinness when and if I can find it on the drinks menu. Even out of a can.