Vancouver Licensees Beware the Pint Police
I don’t know about you, but I am getting fed up with being misled, whether intentionally or not, by bars and restaurants who advertise pints but 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 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 knowingly advertised.
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. I 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. Curious, I stuck my head in 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 a part of the Monday special. 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.”
I wonder if I offered them $3.60 – 20% of the $4.50 they were advertising their “pints” of lager for on Twitter – would I have been told that I was technically right also? I don’t think that would have been acceptable to them, as it should not be acceptable for consumers to be misled. I would have been very pissed off had I 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, whomever is in charge of Falc’s Twitter account, corrected their mistake and tweeted to clarify 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. “Wow, what a great deal,” I said to my wife, “Better check this out.” I stuck my head in 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 via Timbre’s Facebook page if they did serve pints. They immediately answered that they served sleeves. When I mentioned the chalkboard advertising, they responded that it must have been an “oops”, and that they would correct the error.
I don’t know if these mistakes – which are not isolated to Commercial Drive or these two places – are the result of some generational information gap for those raised on the metric system, a 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 trying to attract patrons to their establishments with what is, basically, false advertising, intentional or not.
I come from an age when a pint was a pint. Sleeves did not exist. Millilitres and litres were weird European concepts. The majority of today’s generation of servers and bartenders, however, are from a different era – the era of the metric system and the non-standardized sleeve glass. But they need to learn that a “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, 1 pint is 1/8 gallon), as per the Federal Weights and Measures Act, or in today’s money, 568ml. A “sleeve” has no legal or standard volume attached to it in Canada. It is a term invented by the hospitality 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. 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, yet serving fewer than 12 wings. So why is it okay to do this with beer?
CAMRA Vancouver, with the Fess Up to Serving Sizes Campaign (FUSS), has 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. Rich Coleman, the cabinet minister responsible for alcohol, basically stated that 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, who 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 applying some pressure. Stay tuned for future posts related to the Pint Police…
~ originally published on the VanEast Beer Blog on October 14, 2012.