Thursday, August 7, 2008

Measures of confusion

A Polish-themed bar and restaurant in Doncaster is reported to be facing prosecution from Trading Standards for serving draught beer in metric measures of 0.5 and 0.3 litres. Predictably, this has led to a chorus from the metrication lobby about “freedom of choice” - but you do have to wonder whether they would be quite so vocal if a traditional Scottish-themed pub was serving whisky in measures of a quarter of a gill. In reality, of course, they couldn’t care less about freedom of choice - they are championing it as a way of eroding one of the few traditional measures we are still allowed to use.

The key issue here, of course, is not really one of metric vs Imperial but of pubs being required to use the measures prescribed by weights and measures legislation. If there was a free-for-all in draught beer measures it would lead to endless confusion for the customer. Some pubs would switch to serving beer in half-litre measures, but would not reduce the price accordingly, while no doubt others would try to encourage customers by saying “10% bigger pints here”. It’s also important that customers should left in no doubt as to how much they are drinking.