Yes, that man is trying to eat a pint glass. Watch out for your uvula!
During my hormone-ravaged youth, I’d often encircle my younger brother with elastic luggage straps then suspend him upside down, like a side of seven-year-old beef. Or I’d lock him in a darkened closet with no company except his racing, panicked thoughts.
“Let me ouwwwwwwt!” Jon would holler, cries drowned by Smashing Pumpkins cranked to 11.Yes, today was the greatest day I’d ever known.
Thankfully, the twin powers of amnesia and family ties—har-har!—restrain Jon from taking revenge and submerging me in the barnyard excrement he investigates as an Ohio EPA employee. We get along swimmingly, sharing passions for beer, dim sum and Japanese flicks such as Machine Girl, in which a bullet-belching gun is attached to a teen’s forearm. You share common ground wherever it’s found.
When Jon swung through Brooklyn a couple months back, I decided to treat him to some microbrews. First, we popped into Washington Commons (748 Washington Ave. betw. Park & Sterling Pls., 718-230- 3666). While the raw, spacious saloon lacks comfy booths, there’s a handsome semi-circle bar, superb happy hour (two bucks off till 8 on weekdays) and 16 finely curated taps. Chief among them were Green Flash’s malty, bitter Hop Head Red and Captain Lawrence’s sweet, tropical-scented Xtra Gold, a potion that transfixed Jon with its alcoholic spell.
“Now that’s a tasty beer,” my brother said rapturously, licking his lips like a Labrador. I beamed: After Gitmo-esque childhood torture, I was finally making reparations! After several more pints, we took our buzzes down the block to
Franklin Park (618 St John’s Pl. betw. Franklin & Classon Aves., 718-975-0196). The indoor-outdoor beer garden equally attracts tight-jeaned twenty-somethings and Caribbean expats— a scene that melts together as well as roomtemp Neapolitan ice cream.
We seized a cozy corner and several pints of Sixpoint’s Righteous Rye. We clinked glasses. I turned quizzical: This tumbler felt too heavy, as if it had piled on some holiday weight. I examined the pint, discovering a solid-glass bottom as thick as a Corner Bistro burger. “Jon,” I said as authoritatively as an older brother should, “we’ve been hornswoggled by a cheater pint.”
Allow me to explain the conspiracy: The sturdy, tapered cylinder from which you sip your suds was originally designed to mix drinks, thus dubbed the “shaker pint.” However, bartenders loved the vessels’ stackability and started using them to serve beer—about 16 ounces, AKA the American pint. Across the Atlantic, the U.K.’s imperial pint is a government-regulated 19.2 ounces. Barkeeps use authorized glasses etched with the word “pint” and European Union’s official “CE” mark. But in the United States, a pint, you see, is not always a pint.
Several years ago, a hop shortage spiked beer costs. Some bar owners raised prices. Others ordered 14-ounce shaker pints, depriving drinkers of several enjoyable sips.
This is perfectly legal—and perfectly misleading. Beer drinkers have been conditioned to believe that a pint glass contains 16 ounces. It’s like shaving several dozen grams of beef off a quarter-pound cheeseburger and keeping its name the same. “Big whoop,” you complain. “You have too much time on your hands, Bernstein. Why not concentrate on a real problem—like why you’re as emotional as an automaton.”
Reader, I’m all hot and bothered because this is petty deceit. It sucks to be a clueless sucker. It was time for this little man to stand up for the little men. “Jon,” I told my brother, “watch me make a fool of myself.” I strode to the bartender. “Excuse me,” I asked, sweet as a schoolgirl, “but are these your normal pint glasses?” He looked at me as if I asked him to lift his shirt and do the Truffle Shuffle. “Uh…yeah, I guess,” he replied. “Why?” “Because these are cheater pints.” I pointed to the thick bottom and explained the loss of two ounces of joy juice. I stood there a few beats, awaiting a response that never came. My cheeks bloomed red and hot. What did I expect to accomplish? Shame a bartender who’s but a pawn? I retreated to my seat, my point proven, my point changing nothing. My brother and I consumed our Righteous Ryes in a snap— too quickly, if you ask me—then placed our empty pints on the bar.
“Do you want another?” the bartender asked, trying to placate his crazy customer.
I shook my head. “I’d like a pint,” I mumbled to Jon as we headed to the door, “but I won’t get one here.”