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A couple of discussions seemed to have passed me by in the last couple of weeks and, when I did eventually pick up on them, roused some interest upon reading. The first was an article by Glynn Davis for Beer Insider, the second was a Hopinions podcast Twitter poll and the resulting audio show. 

Both referred to the discussion of whether a half pint should be half the price of a full pint. Whilst the results of the Twitter poll at least were fairly one sided, there were still discussions justifying any difference in pricing; areas where half a pint may be more than a full pint because there is some sort of strenuous extra labour involved in its production. With this I have discovered new types of bars that have interesting pay structures.

The argument seems to be that the labour costs are the same for serving a half as they are a pint and that must be reflected in the price one pays. Therefore, there are areas in the country where people either are or believed to be working in one of the following two ways:

1)      The bar staff are paid commission on every drink served; a pay by play basis if you will. Each drink, whatever it is, forms the wages of the staff and therefore they must be factored in as such. Presumably they are just standing around waiting for customers and do not get paid if nobody comes in.

2)      Serving drinks at the bar is a huge inconvenience and additional service provided by bar staff that is beyond their original contracts. Each drink must be charged per pour because it is not expected of them.

I’m intrigued by these bars as I’ve never been in one. Those that I have been around work out their beer prices based on a GP for all beer that at a bare minimum will cover the overheads of the business as well as turn a profit. Overheads usually include things like electricity, rent, business rates, wages, maintenance and... wait, that’s right – wages. Wages are included in the overheads. Wages have already been factored into the beer prices - as has the use of the glass washer, glass expense and wear and tear on the beer engines. This is already included in the price of your pint or any other measure that you choose.

So there is no “extra” cost for pulling a half over a pint. There is no comparable difference in the work involved that needs to be factored in. That has already been paid for.

If bars are adamant that there are further unaccounted costs in pulling a half pint over a pint then I encourage them to base their GDP on a half pint and double it.

Further counter points are that this is a discount for added quantity, like one may see elsewhere, but beer down the pub is not advertising space or a carton of milk. Not everything in the world is priced the same. If this was the case then it would be commonplace to see 6 pints for £20 offers as well (and yes I am aware such nonsense exists in student bars and Yates.)

The reason it is not comparable to the likes of milk is because the overheads are projected in the original price. It is not:
 £5.00 a pint + £50p service charge = £5.50 a pint 
THEREFORE £2.50 a half + 50p service charge = £3.00 a half. 

However, the likes of milk are calculated in such a way: 
A pint carton = 30p worth of liquid + 30p packaging and labour. 60p overall. 
A 2pint carton = 60p worth of liquid + 40p packaging and labour. £1.00 overall.

The only counter arguments can be that it “has always been this way” so we are following some dormant tradition. Or perhaps they are looking to the continent where uneven pricing for “small” and “large” measures is common, though this doesn’t adhere to our stricter measurement acts.

If any pubs or bars want to have a specific pricing structure that increases price for smaller measures then they have every right to do so. I'm also not bothered by the odd 10p here and there. This is not a flat out criticism of those structures. 

It is criticism of the outright lie that this can be attributed as an extra service charge because wages are not already pitched as overheads. Do not continue this folly that we are paying service charges for pouring beer. It is insulting nonsense. The beer pulled at your pub is different to that sold packaged in your local supermarket. It is also very different to the meat at your butcher’s, the cost of travel insurance or a new three piece suite. Those things do cost money and are priced in a certain way. But to almost coin a popular phrase – what the hell has that got to do with the price of a half? 


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