Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Friday, 20 January 2012

Mine's a pint!

In case anyone was wondering, the recent silence here has been due to the extensive refurbishments the tavern is undergoing; as a bar to creativity, the pram in the hall is as nothing compared to the decorator's ladder on the landing.


As the sidebar implies, I am very attached to my pint mug, albeit a heavy-bottomed one made of glass rather than the handsome antique specimen depicted.

These days it serves mostly as a water-glass, though back in my distant penurious past it doubled as a cereal-bowl on the mornings I couldn't be bothered to wash up, not to mention occasional money-box, flower-vase or wasp-catcher.

When the Urchin came of age, he too wanted a pint mug of his own; however, it proved surprisingly difficult to find one. Pubs had, almost universally, replaced their handled glass tankards with straight glasses and shops had followed suit.

I'm hoping Bucko - having relevant experience - can enlighten me as to the reason for this*; I always thought that it was because the weight and the handle made a pint mug a potentially lethal weapon, but, according to the Telegraph, the reason is far more prosaic:
In the late 1970s and early 1980s drinkers rebelled against tankards. ‘In a straight glass, not a jug’ was a common request. The move saw most pubs ditch them and stock 'straight' glasses only.
Real ale - the sort for which you are supposed to wear a woolly sweater and, preferably, a beard - still came in handled mugs, but for everything else you got a straight glass (unless you were female and in the North, when you would automatically be issued with a half in a 'ladies' glass' complete with stem).

It is thus highly amusing that, as reported in the Telegraph, style-conscious city-dwellers are now insisting on traditional-style glass pint mugs for their beer. In the words of a Wimbledon pub manager:
“More and more people are specifically requesting their beer in a pint jug with a handle, particularly when they see other drinkers with one. There is definitely an element of nostalgia about a proper pint jug.

They are seen as retro-cool yet comforting and traditional, reflecting the return to more traditional pub values.”
'Retro-cool', eh? Just goes to show; hang around long enough and, like it or not, you'll be at the cutting edge of fashion.

*Update: According to Bucko (via comments):
"the glass was phased out because of its adaptability as a nasty weapon. If you hold the handle with your fingers all the way through the hole, so your knuckle is touching the glass, turn it 45 degrees onto it's side, then bang it hard on the edge of a table, the glass shatters leaving you with what is called a 'glass fist'. A bit like a knuckleduster with jagged glass edges. You can imagine the damage such a weapon would do."

It's rather sad when your low opinion of your fellow-man turns out to be entirely justified - though my respect for those who successfully ply the publican's trade has increased in proportion.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for the link, and yes I can help.

    You are correct, the glass was phased out because of it's adaptability as a nasty weapon.

    If you hold the handle with your fingers all the way through the hole, so your knuckle is touching the glass, turn it 45 degrees onto it's side, then bang it hard on the edge of a table, the glass shatters leaving you with what is called a 'glass fist'. A bit like a knuckleduster with jagged glass edges.
    You can imagine the damage such a weapon would do.

    I have a couple of barrel glasses at home that I use myself. One is a traditional dimple style and the other is straight and smooth.

    I also have a very rare half pint Guinness barrel but the logo is wearing off unfortunately.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for such a prompt and informative response; did the Telegraph, I wonder, deliberately omit that explanation?

    I can't imagine the paper's regular readers being inspired by an article to experiment with the tankard's aggressive potential, but maybe you can't be too cautious these days...

    ReplyDelete
  3. No worries. It's been a slow afternoon and I'm just looking forward to getting home and filling one of mine.

    I suppose it's possible that the Telegraph just don't know about that.
    I could be that they are being cautious though if them glasses are making a comback.

    I have met a lot of older folk who did ask specifically for those glasses. Some even brought their own into the pub. That practice is frowned upon, but if it's what the customer wanted we would usually let it happen.

    I've seen a lot of town centre pubs are starting to bring in plastic glasses at the wekend. I think that's taking health and safety way to far. Beer tastes pants out of a plastic glass.

    Having said all that, I suppose phasing out barrel glasses was easier with the rise of lager which you would serve in a straight glass anyway. Maybe this is why the Telegraph think it was a fashion thing rather than a safety one?

    ReplyDelete
  4. It appears that the Sumerians may not have been brewing beer as once thought. Just like some of the big brewing companies.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "I've seen a lot of town centre pubs are starting to bring in plastic glasses at the wekend. I think that's taking health and safety way to far. Beer tastes pants out of a plastic glass."

    The sort of 'beer' they no doubt drink probably doesn't taste good in anything....

    ReplyDelete
  6. re: plastic glasses

    By an extraordinary bit of bad planning, the route form Weymouth's ferry port winds along the seafront and through the town. Passengers disembarking from the night ferries are obliged to drive through drifts of empty plastic glasses outside the town's many pubs - classy!

    Demetrius, it's kind of depressing to think those Sumerians were quaffing the equivalent of Kaliber.

    I looked up the story here; I'm assuming you read it on a recent news site - or does your impressive erudition extend to browsing the original source, the snappily titled Cuneiform Digital Library Journal?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've used two kinds of plastic glasses. One studier type that is supposed to be washed and used again, that isn't too bad if you've already got a couple inside you. The other is a disposeable one that is made of very thin and bendy plastic. If you pick up your pint with a bit of a strong grip, you slop half of it all over the floor. You need to keep your empty glass so you can double up on your next pint and make it strong eough to hold.

    ReplyDelete