I knew a friend of a friend a few years back whose nickname was “Half-Pint.” The story behind Half-Pint’s nickname was predictable. When he was around 19 he was on a night out with his friends. With fifteen minutes left before they were moving on from a bar, but with empty glasses in front of him, Half-Pint asked a simple question: ‘Shall we just get halves since we’re going in fifteen?’ The idea was so remarkable, so scornful, so unbelievable that some six years later the name still stuck. The idea was laughable and of course the origin story concluded with the group buying full pints and drinking them quickly.
In a time of schooners, thirds and beers served in Bombay Sapphire glasses, I was reminded of Half-Pint’s tale by a work colleague last week. He’s the sort that refers to my drink preferences as weird, fancy shit. I caught the tail end of a proclamation he was making to somebody else. “I just can’t bring myself to order a half. I just can’t do it. Occassionally, if I’ve only got five minutes, I’ll ask them to stick half in the pint glass I’m already using. But that’s it.”
The conversation continued along the basic insinuation that ordering anything less than a pint wasn’t “manly.” Perhaps there was a time when such suggestions would have caused an aggressive reaction from me, but after a weekend of drinking thirds of several double and triple IPAs the most I could raise to my colleague was a metaphorical shake of the head and a fleeting ‘What a Life Wanker’ thought.
Three days after this encounter came the opposite to the anti-half-pint team: it’s the anti-pint crowd. I was in Piccadilly Tap in Manchester with time to spare until my train. There’s a couple of beers I fancy squeezing in before the train so I opt for the more appropriate half measurement of the first beer.
“We only do that beer in thirds or two/thirds.”
Let’s be clear on two things here. Firstly this is not policy with Piccadilly Tap. Most beers are available in any measurement you want. Secondly, the offending beer was Cloudwater’s Farmhouse Radler – a 4.1% locally brewed beer. It wasn’t a super strength, imported rarity that one might want to approach with caution. It was a beer that on a warm, sunny day in Manchester was surely designed to be supped by the pint.
I don’t care who is to blame for the fact I can’t buy a beer brewed half a mile away by the half pint - or pint. I care about craft beer being craft for the sake of being craft. I care about somebody being such a craft wanker that we now can’t buy beer by the most basic of measurements. Put the suggestion on the board that you might want to just have a schooner of a particular beer if you fancy, but do not explicitly refuse somebody the right to a pint.
I never thought I would find sympathy with the life-trained monkeys that see anything below a pint of lager as a societal disease, but stood in Tap with an unwanted schooner of beer, I wondered whether Half-Pint was still being ridiculed.
So which is worse: the Pint Wanker or the Craft Wanker?