How Many Ounces in a Pitcher of Beer?

Answering the question of how many ounces in a pitcher of beer requires that you first make a determination of which size pitcher the restaurant, bar, or pub serves. Not all pitchers hold the same volume of liquid, and there is not a standard pitcher size per se; having said that on average pitchers will hold between 32 – 60 ounces, however, buyer beware there are reports of pitchers holding up to 128 oz which is a significant amount of beer, to say the least.

It is also important to know that many establishments that serve pitchers of beer in actuality only serve what is properly referred to as a mini pitcher or half pitcher; which as the name implies holds approximately half the volume of a 60 oz pitcher.

To begin let’s take a look at the two standard pitcher sizes most establishments carry…

How Many Ounces in a Pitcher of Beer?

Normally the beer pitcher sizes most establishments use, hold either 48 ounces or 60 ounces of draft beer.

When it comes to a 60 oz pitcher depending on the size of the beer glasses the bar uses could result in either six 10 oz servings or five 12 oz servings; rarely when being served a pitcher of beer will you see pint sizes glasses of 16 or 20 oz being used, but from time to time establishments will serve in those sizes and if so that will result in just over 3.5 servings for the 16 oz and 3 servings for the 20 oz. Converted to liters, a 60-ounce pitcher is 1.78 liters.

When it comes to the 48 oz pitcher again depending on the size of the glass, it could result in the pitcher holding just under five 10 oz servings or four 12 oz servings; and for the large glass sizes, a pitcher will hold three 16 oz servings and approximately two & half 20 oz servings. Converted to liters, a 48-ounce pitcher is 1.4 liters.

Most bars will not serve in pitchers that hold any more than 60 ounces of beer as it becomes very difficult for their servers to carry them to the table, however, as we have noted there are reports of some establishments serving in pitchers that would hold up to 128 ounces which is 3.78 liters.

Another very common pitcher size is the min pitcher or half pitcher…

How Many Ounces in a Mini Pitcher of Beer?

Many establishments will provide you with the option of ordering a smaller-sized pitcher, however, some will only carry this smaller size so do not be surprised if you are expecting a large pitcher and you get served a mini, it is always recommended that you ask the server in advance how many ounces their pitchers hold.

A mini pitcher holds 32 ounces of beer. Which depending on the glass size serves between 2.5 and 3 glasses. In reality, it is not a lot of beer, and considering most people order 16 oz pints these days it works out to only 2 servings. Converted to liters, a 32 oz pitcher is 0.95 liters.

The Origins of Pitchers of Beer 
A pitcher of beer next to the words how many ounces in a pitcher of beer.
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The origin of the beer pitcher is not documented per se, history has not recorded who was the first person or establishment to drink or serve beer from pitchers; however, we do know that the term pitcher comes from the word “picher” which means “jug” which dates back to the 13th century and simply means a vessel with a spout used for containing and serving beverages.

Jugs with spouts have been used since the beginning of recorded time to store and carry beverages, so it should come as no surprise that beer has also been served out of these containers for centuries.

The term pitcher is primarily used in North America whereas in most other places around the world it is still referred to as a jug.

Establishments serving beer in a pitcher is not as commonplace as it was in years gone by, this is in large part due to the craft beer revolution that started taking place in the 1990s. The mass-produced commercial beer is more suited to be served ice cold from pitchers over the higher quality and more flavorful craft beer that people prefer to have served to them directly from the beer tap into the glass.

Beer Tower vs a Pitcher of Beer

Some establishments will not only serve their beer in 32 – 60 ounce pitchers but will also sell beer towers that can hold up to 100 oz of beer which is 3 liters.

Beer towers are basically portable beer taps, and as their name implies they are shaped like a tower, being a tall plastic cylinder. Unlike a pitcher that one must pick up and pour the beer into their glass from, with a beer tower, the patron pours their own beer from a spigot or tap at the base of the tower.

With a beer tower, the beer is poured into the top of the cylinder by the bar or restaurant, there is also usually a compartment for ice in order to keep the beer cool and at the base of the tower, there are beer taps, usually more than one so that patrons can pour their beers simultaneously.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a Bar Legally Serve a Pitcher of Beer to One Person?

The answer is it depends on the local jurisdiction. It is true that some laws have a limit on how many ounces an establishment can serve to a customer in a single serving.

What’s the Average Cost of a Pitcher of Beer?

Back in the good old days bars would run specials and have pitcher nights where you could get a pitcher of beer dirt cheap, we are talking for only a couple of dollars. Those days are long gone and pitchers now range from $15 – $30 depending on how many ounces are in the pitcher and also the quality of the beer.

How Much Do You Tip For a Pitcher of Beer?

The standard rate for tipping at a bar would apply and is typically between 15 – 20%.

Last Call

As you have seen, determining how many ounces are in a pitcher of beer hinges on what size pitcher the establishment you are frequenting serves their beer in. Typically most pitchers will hold anywhere from 32 – 60 ounces with some reports of bars serving pitchers capable of holding as much as 128 ounces of beer. The smart move is to ask your bartender or server how much theirs holds before ordering.

P.S. If you brew your own beer or want to start, be sure to pick up your gift of Big Robb’s top 5 favorite beer recipes from his brewpub. Details are on the side of the blog or at the bottom if you are on your phone.

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