Sunday, 10 February 2013



     I heard on the grapevine (the very best source of obvious or long out of date news) that the Thornbridge, well known brewers of hoppy porter Juvenia, have decided to stop using lined glasses.

This is a bit of a surprise, but to be honest, when it was mentioned to me, I immediately looked at my glass of Thornbridge beer, and saw that its a traditional size with a line not too far below the lip. They don't use the huge Trophy and John Smiths club pint pots that could fit an extra quarter pint of foam in, they just use what I would consider ordinary glasses with a line.

Having said that, I don't even know if that applies to the whole estate, because I rarely have reason to ask for a top up, so rarely pay much attention.

It will be interesting to see the reaction of drinkers to this change. Brim measure glasses will inevitably save Thornbridge, the struggling millionaire backed brewery, money, as less liquid will go into the pints. Yet Thornbridge beers have never been about billowing heads. The vast range of styles means there isn't really a core "trad" bitter with a similar clientele keen to hold onto their frothy beer culture.

Also, they only have 12 premises (who knew Graze Inn and Relish were theirs!) and that means that the number of customers affected is comparatively small. Comparative, say, to the last pub owning business to make a similar decision - Wetherspoons.

Its weird because one of 'Spoons gripes was that they were wasting too much beer and selling over measures all the time. Obviously there's quite an issue surrounding training and staff knowledge. Thornbridge are near a hundred times smaller than JDW  and also have, as I understand, high expectations of their staff and their knowledge and service.

If this decision is due to them not trusting staff to serve an "acceptable measure" it surely wouldn't be a huge feat to simply issue guidance and monitor that its being followed?

The clear downsides I can see are that since Thornbridge sell to a large number of free trade accounts, only drinkers in its pubs will be drinking less liquid when they buy a pint. If its an annoyance, then drinkers can still get larger measures of their Thornbridge beer elsewhere. There will also be real impact on the guest beers - and a perceived lack of liquid will only show up customers concerns about the prices.

The main thing is, having owned/rented/leased/run pubs for many years, changing the ethos now not only rankles regulars but makes one question, why it wasn't done at the start?

 It will be interesting to see if the wide range of venue types in the Thornbridge estate will disburse the impact, or whether the negative aspects listed above will simply sour the Thornbridge-customer relationship further. It seems a big risk for little perceivable gain

And it would also be great to find out what the reasons are behind the decision.

Wee Beefy


  1. While in principle I support legislation to ensure that a pint equals 20 fluid ounces, in practice I doubt whether any customers will be particularly bothered.

    1. As highlighted by my not really having considered if the pint glasses Thornbridge use are lined or not - their staff seem pretty well trained at presenting beer with enough liquid and head to be fine. Still an odd idea though.

  2. Are customers not bothered because they do not know? How many punters really know a pint is less than a pint?

    I gather Spoons stopped lined glasses because of punter complaints. If it falls below the top people will assume it is a short measure and you will have to deal with queries. If all outlets had to have lined glasses, punters would quickly adjust.

    Another point, the only place I know in the UK that has lined glasses are CAMRA fests, somewhere that over measures are common. Other countries like Germany have lined glasses but dispense from keg.

    1. Quite possibly no punters know - its all about appearance.

      As you say people will ask for a top up if its not filling the glass, when, actually, a tall lined glass (if that makes sense) can accommodate a largish head and a full pint - but in being the shape of a shorter brim measure glass confusion arises (I admit I need pics here).

      Come to think of it, I often to ask for a top up in Spoons but this is most likely down to beer being too lively and staff rushed off their feet. The lined thing in their pubs hasn't made any difference.

      And re lager, when on hols overseas I rarely even look, althugh odd 400ml glasses were spotted in Crete....