By way of an introduction to this observation, imagine for a moment that your dick shrinks by 20% overnight. Now consider that the British pint is 20oz while a US pint is 16oz...
I drink from a British nonic pint all the time; I have one by me now, the cupboard is filled with them and I have one at work for water. It’s the glass most pubs use, most of the time, and I’m warmly familiar with how it feels when it’s full, when it’s empty and all the way in between. There’s also a certain comfort to holding it, a feeling that it’s designed to snugly fit in the hand; the perfect size and weight to hold a drink. So, when a nonic of frothing, golden-orange beer slides across the bar to me in California, I think nothing of it, sensing a touch of the familiar with the excitement of the new... but that only lasted until I picked it up.
It was a 16oz nonic. Lighter, thinner, noticeably smaller and it didn’t fill the pocket of the hand. Imagine your dick shrinks by 20%... it’s weird. I can’t even remember what beer was in the glass, I was just fascinated by this slightly smaller glass in a very familiar shape (I was probably quite drunk at the time too, which didn't help).
This also, loosely, leads to the size of pours. The US doesn’t have the pint, half, third restrictions that the UK has, rather, you ask for a beer and depending on what it is and where you are it comes in a different and appropriate glass. Many ‘normal’ beers come in 16oz shaker glasses (which I like drinking beer from; they feel good in the hand, like a soft drink glass only more potently filled), but I was served 2, 4, 8, 10, and 12oz glasses, maybe other volumes too, in a wide variety of glassware. I like the freedom to pour different measures and it works perfectly for the wide range of beers on offer in many beer bars over there. To be honest, there isn’t the necessity to have this freedom in the UK, but I still like the idea of no preset amounts, which makes me think of a comment Zak made on this post about ordering beer in a financial volume rather than physical (£2 of beer, please). That’s an interesting idea.
I like that we have set measurements in the UK and I don’t want to change the pint, half and third. I would, however, like to see thirds more widely used in the pubs which need them (because they sell stronger beer) and more care taken over appropriate glassware, because, as good as a pint is, I don't always want to drink a pint of each beer I have and some beers are just better suited to particular shaped glasses.
I’m in a campaigning mood and want to kick off a few different ones... I’m thinking of starting one for a fifth-of-a-pint glass (about 4oz)... who is with me?! The day we get a one-fifth-pint in the UK will be the day extreme beer properly arrives. Bring It On!
The picture is a bit dodgy, I apologise. It shows two glasses from the Toronado, one of a just-finished saison (12oz glass, I think) and the other of an IPA in a shaker pint.