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UK law behind sending pint back to bar and how much head can be served on drink

Poppy Bilderbeck

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UK law behind sending pint back to bar and how much head can be served on drink

Picture this. You've had a long, trying week at work and you've made it all the way to Friday. It's seconds away from half past five, you've already packed up your belongings and have your coat on, a** half-lifted off the seat.

As soon as the clock's hand flicks past, you stand up, regaining all the energy that has been slowly drained out of you from work - it's pub time.

You make your way to your local, the atmosphere buzzing with those Friday feels.

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You dance your way up to the bar and order a pint - having waited a torturously long day to get your hands on that sweet, juicy nectar - only to be served a beer which is pretty much half-head. You may as well have agreed to work overtime.

But what if we told you all is not lost? That you don't just have to meekly pick up your pint and take it back to your table deflated and defeated, too polite to ask for better, too tired to argue.

An industry guideline written by the UK's British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) means you may never have to accept a measly pint again.

The state of that. Credit: Leszek Kobusinski/ Alamy Stock Photo
The state of that. Credit: Leszek Kobusinski/ Alamy Stock Photo

According to a member of Martin Lewis' Money Saving Expert team, the question of what makes an acceptable pint has - historically - been a contentious one.

The initial rule in the Capacity Serving Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Regulations 1988 states a full pint measures up to the brim or to the line which you see on some other bigger pint glasses.

Alas, the regulation didn't specify whether this includes the head of the pint or not.

Later on, in 1985, a law was created called the Weights and Measures Act. In part IV, section 43, the law explained that when considering what a full pint looks like 'the gas comprised in any foam on the beer or cider shall be disregarded'.

While this sounds like great news, it would mean the head would either end up overflowing off the pint glass and going to waste or become non-existent altogether - running the risk of pissing off some people who like a bit of added foam.

The law is also no longer in action as a result of it being revoked in 1994.

The 'perfect pint' can look different to every drinker as well. Credit: Cum Okolo/ Alamy Stock Photo
The 'perfect pint' can look different to every drinker as well. Credit: Cum Okolo/ Alamy Stock Photo

While there haven't been any other official laws created or enforced on the matter, in 1993, the BBPA teamed up with the Department of Trade and Industry to create its own guidelines.

The Guidance Notes on the Dispense of Draught Beer by Free Flow and Hand Pull read: "A measure of a beer served with a head must include a minimum of 95 percent liquid."

While 95 percent is pretty good going, if you're not a fan of a mouthful of foam, you technically lose out on 19p's worth of beer for every £3.79 pint, Kelvin Goodson explains.

Thankfully, the 'guidance notes' encourage pint drinkers to go up to the bar and ask for a top-up if they're not fully satisfied - a request which it says 'should be received with good grace and never refused, subject to avoiding spillage of liquid'.

The Guidance Notes on the Dispense of Draught Beer by Free Flow and Hand Pull encourage customers to request a top-up if not fully satisfied with their pint. Credit: Photo Central/ Alamy Stock Photo
The Guidance Notes on the Dispense of Draught Beer by Free Flow and Hand Pull encourage customers to request a top-up if not fully satisfied with their pint. Credit: Photo Central/ Alamy Stock Photo

However, only certain pubs are required to follow the rule as BBPA reportedly only oversees 20,000 establishments in the UK, so keep that in mind before you go storming around demanding more beer for your buck.

If you are refused, you can decide to take things further and speak to management, or if you feel that hard done by you can go to your local trading standards office to complain about the boozer.

Although, if it does get to that point, maybe it's best to just make the most of your evening and look at it as half-a-glass full opposed to half-a-glass empty.

Featured Image Credit: Alex Segre/Alamy PA/Alamy

Topics: UK News, Food And Drink

Poppy Bilderbeck
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