The way pubs sell alcohol is rigidly defined under the law of Weights and Measures so getting this fundamental piece of business right is essential if you want to stay within the law. The law protects both pub businesses and their customers by setting out in what measure alcohol can be sold so both parties know what being sold is what’s being charged for.
Beer, Lager, Cider – when sold from draught taps and can only be sold in ⅓ pint, ½ pint, or full pint measures (or multiples thereof) in “brim full” glasses (where the server fills the glass to the brim) or in over-sized glasses (where the server fills the glass to a line indicating the size of measure being served). In either case the glass must carry a government “stamp” indicating the volume the glass carries.
Some pubs still have “metered dispense” where the server presses a button on the beer font and measured amount of product is dispensed into the glass. If you have metered dispense then it is acceptable to dispense beer etc. into an “unstamped” glass.
An ambiguous area of weights and measures law is the size of the head or froth that is allowed to make up a pint. The industry’s acceptable size for this portion of the pint is 5%, however should a customer request that their pint be “topped up” then their request should be granted.
A customer who requests a half pint be added to the contents already in their pint glass should receive a measured half pint which is then poured into their glass – you should not attempt to guess what constitutes a half pint by free pouring it into the glass.
Should a customer request a “dash” normally of lemonade, blackcurrant or lime, then they should be charged no more that the price of a normal measure of the draft product (if you charge a separate amount in the first place).
Shandy can be charged at the normal price for a full measure of the draft product the customer is ordering. For instance if a customer orders a lager shandy then they are charged for the full price of the lager and the soft drink they request the shandy be made from.
Top Tip – In my experience offering a discounted shandy price is preferable to charging full price, as customers are quite savvy and know you make a high margin on soft drinks… no one likes to think they’re being ripped off.
Soft Drinks – when dispensed from a “gun” these free flow dispense units should be dispense into “lined” over-sized glasses or “brim full” glasses according to the measures you publish in your price list. For instance if your price list states you serve 16 fluid ounces of cola, then this is the measure your customer should receive. Some bars have “metered dispense” so you can dispense soft drinks from these devices into unstamped glasses too.
Top Tip – check your glass stock regularly as occasionally customers may arrive with their own glasses (from other pubs, parties or BBQs etc) and some of these may not be government stamped pints or half pint glasses, these need to be removed from your pub’s general stock of glassware.
Wines & Spirits
Whisky/Whiskey, Gin, Vodka and Rum must be sold in measures of either 25ml of 35ml, or again multiples thereof. Whatever the measure size you choose to sell these four spirits in, they must always be measured, either by using an “optic” or “thimble/jigger”. Whichever measuring device you use they must either carry a government seal or government stamp to prove they dispense the stated volume. However if they are sold in cocktails that contain three or more liquids then they do not have to be measured. You should note for the purposes of Weights and Measures, water is not considered a liquid for the purposes of cocktail ingredients.
Most other products are sold in 25ml or single measures, however there are traditional exceptions. The stated measure below is the traditional measure for the products listed below and constitute a “single measure” of the product:
- Bailey’s Irish cream 50ml
- Vermouth (e.g. Martini)50ml
- Ginger Wine 50ml
- Port 50ml
- Sherry (all brands) 50ml
- Advocaat 50ml
- Cinzano 50ml
Measures should always be the size stated
The customer should always be supplied with size of measure stated on the price list you display in your pub. The measure should never be “short” or under that stated and equally it should not be greater than the measure stated.
You may add ice before you pour any post-mix products in to a glass provided the customer asks for it.
If a customer requests a mixture of two drafts products such a pint of lager a cider mix (Snakebite) or lager and bitter (Mickey Mouse) then they should be charged for half a pint of each of the two products ordered.
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