In honor of the 1/3 pint

The worst thing that’s happened to me during the pandemic is that I “really love beer.” I was already into it in the simplest way possible: I liked drinking it and I liked getting drunk. I loved the ceremony of it: walking into the pub, ideally around noon on a balmy Saturday, breathing in the rich smell of the carpet, ordering a simple fizzy lager and taking that first perfect big sip. Ah!

But then I started buying expensive cases of IPAs and NEIPAs, things that describe themselves as “hazy,” and huge heavy stouts with double-digit alcohol content. I browsed the taps, my head low like a predator, and asked, “Sorry, can I – yes, sorry, can I have a taste of that?” Then I would just order the first one I tried. This started to affect my friendships. The pub order now is: ‘Three Guinness, and Joel can arrange it himself. I don’t want to be seen with him doing that.’ I’m starting to think they started a WhatsApp chat without me.

The April to May slouch is its own season: not quite spring, certainly not summer, but we’re far enough away from winter that you can feel reasonably safe putting away your heavy coats. There isn’t really much to do; You can’t have a picnic in comfort, can you? What some people do to get around this state of limbo is set up a marquee, generate the worst logo you’ve ever seen, and hold a craft beer festival. And when they are there, they drink from ⅓ pint glasses.

The logic behind the ⅓-pint glass is threefold: the first is that once you start drinking craft beer, you have a strange urge to try as much of it as possible, to say yes to the ‘Whirly Whippet’ and the ‘Captain’s Hand’. ‘. Secondly, these beers are often very strong and a pint of the stuff would have much the same effect as a clumsily performed lobotomy, so a smaller portion is preferable. Third – and the most important reason: craft beer is occasionally very tasty, but more often it tastes like an art school sink, and if you don’t like your ⅓ pint, you can slurp it on the floor without feeling too bad. to feel heartbroken.

I recently ordered a paddle – a big wooden plank with four holes in it, each holding a pint in it – and yes, the bartender hated me for doing it, and yes, all four beers were sour, terrible and thrush. A beer that can only be kept in a ⅓ pint glass often has a threatening, drink-like energy, and this is to be feared.

The serving has potential though. An Australian friend of mine tells me that the ⅓ is colloquially known there as a ‘pony’, which I think means it has legs. Europeans are fond of serving beer in schooners so that they don’t get too hot when you drink them in the sun while smoking. With summer just around the corner, perhaps we should think outside the confines of the old-fashioned pint – still a perfect thing, fizzy or hazy or otherwise – and look for the varied uses of different portions.

Clearly one of the best things you can do in London is go to The French House and sink half of it quickly. But ordering a ⅓ just after you’ve had your last full pint and before you sprint to the train can be an elegant move. We could call it a ‘Hometimer’, and people who want one will be given priority when serving at the bar.

Joel Golby’s Four Stars: A Life. Reviewed is out now. Listen to Joel on the latest episode of Table Talk here.