If you do a search for how many ounces in a pint of beer you are going to very quickly come to realize that the answer is it depends.
The size of a pint of beer used to depend on where in the world you were located. As you will see in this post official pint sizes in the UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, Israel and Australie (to name a few) are all different. There was a time that in each of these countries all pubs would serve the same size, for example, if you were in the UK and ordered a beer at one time you could have expected to get 20 ounces of beer.
However nowadays if you go into a bar or a pub and order a pint of beer how many ounces are in it can depend on what size beer glass the owner has decided to serve their beer in.
You could go to one pub and order a pint and get 16 oz and for the exact same price at the next pub you go to you may only get 14 oz, and pay the same approximate price.
How Many Ounces in a US Pint of Beer?
In the United States “officially” a pint is 16 US fluid ounces, which is equivalent to 473 ml. However, the fact is that in the majority of pubs in the US if you order a pint of beer they are going to serve it in glasses that only hold 16 ounces which means that when you factor in the head of the beer which is typically ½ inch the actual amount of beer works out to approximately 14 ounces.
How Many Ounces in an Imperial Pint
An Imperial Pint of beer is the equivalent of 20 ounces or 568 ml and has been the standard size used to serve draught beer in England since the early 20th century. Prior to that most beer was served in what was referred to as “the pot” which was a quart of beer and was the equivalent of two 20 ounce pints of beer.
In England going out for a pint has been the common terminology for going for a beer for many years. Whereas in the US prior to the craft beer revolution of recent years most people would have simply gone out for a beer.
The 20-ounce sized pint is also common in the other countries forming part of the UK (Scotland, Wales, and also Northern Ireland as well as most commonwealth countries (but not all) such as Canada and most of Australia.
The Different Sizes of Beer Pints Around the World
Many countries around the world use the term pint as a unit of measurement for beer, however as you are seeing the problem lies in the fact that the units they use to measure the fluid varies from place to place.
In most places in Australia, a pint of beer is 20 ounces, however, in South Australia, they serve their pints in what is referred to elsewhere as schooner-sized glasses which are actually 15 ounces or 425 ml.
In Israel, the pint is actually defined as officially being 19 ounces or 568 ml. However in most places in the United States when you order one you could get anything from 360 ml (12 oz) – 568 ml (20 oz).
In Germany, the standard beer size is referred to as a Pintchen and is 11 oz or 330 ml and in France, a popular unit is called a Royal Pint and holds 32 oz or 952ml.
Laws Governing Pint Sizes
In order to ensure that beer drinkers are actually getting what they have paid for, many countries have enacted actual laws that govern the size of the beer glass that pubs and restaurants are allowed to serve their beer in.
In the UK beer on tap legally must be sold in an Imperial pint. To regulate this there is the law that governs weights and measures.
In the USA there is only one state that has a law in place that defines what size glass must be used. It is 2013 House Bill 5040 which mandates pints have to contain 16 oz of beer.
In Australia certified glassware has to be used. The amount of beer that the glass can hold must be defined by the fill line. A fill line is simply a mark on the glass that indicates the amount of liquid it holds.
In the Republic of Ireland, 20-ounce beer pints have what are referred to as meteorology marks on them that indicate it has been inspected by the National Standards Authority.
In Canada, there is a law federally that regulates that pints are to be served in 20 ounce glasses. It should be noted that the law is not enforced and many pubs, bars, and restaurants serve their draught beer in various sizes.
Number of Pints in Standard Beer Sizes
Every day it seems that commercial and craft breweries are coming up with new ways to package their beer. You can now get beer in kegs, growlers, crowlers, big cans and bottles, medium-sized cans & bottles, and even small and mini cans & bottles to list just a few.
However, as the consumer, you may want to know how these sizes equate to pints.
The standard bottle or can size is 12 ounces or 354 ml which equates to 75% of a 16 ounce pint and 60% of an imperial 20 ounce pint.
The larger “tallboy” cans that most craft breweries use to package their beer hold 16 ounces or 473 ml which is the equivalent of one US Pint and is 80% of an Imperial Pint.
Growlers are the glass jugs that you can use to fill up with beer directly from many craft breweries and take home to enjoy. They come in two sizes, 32 ounces and 64 ounces. The 32 ounce growler is the equivalent of 2 US sized pints and 1.6 Imperial pints. The 64 ounce growler is the equivalent of 4 US sized pints and 3.2 Imperial sized pints.
As far as kegs go there are many kegs sizes, however the 2 most popular are the ⅙ keg and the cornelius keg. The ⅙ keg holds 20 liters or 5.16 gallons which is 661 ounces which equates to 41.31 US pints and 33.05 Imperial pints. The cornelius keg holds 19 liters or 5 gallons which is 642 ounces which equates to 40.12 US pints and 31.20 Imperial pints.
How Much Alcohol is in a Pint of Beer?
Although a pint of beer will hold the same volume of beer as another it does not mean that the alcohol content is the same.
Depending on the style of beer the alcohol content or ABV (alcohol by volume) will vary. The typical beer will have an ABV between 4 – 5%. However, you can get beer with very little to no alcohol (nonalcoholic beers) but also beer that are on the complete opposite end of the scale with an ABV close to 20%. It is important to understand that drinking beer with a higher ABV is going to result in you becoming intoxicated faster.
How to Pour a Proper Pint
Many beer enthusiasts prefer to drink their beer from a pint glass. There are a lot of advantages to drinking it this way, the main two being that serving from a glass actually improves the taste and aroma of the beer.
To get the full experience of drinking from a pint glass is not as simple as just dumping the beer into the glass, instead follows these simple rules:
1) First make sure the glass is clean and that all dish soap has been rinsed out well. Any dirt or residual soap can negatively alter the taste, appearance, and aroma of the beer.
2) Next rinse your glass with water before pouring your beer. You may have noticed your bartender giving the glass a rinse before pouring. The purpose of doing this is to get rid of any dust particles that are not visible to the naked eye that may be clinging to the glass. If you have ever noticed bubbles stuck to the side of the pint glass, this is because there is either dirt, soap, or dust on the glass that the carbonation is stuck to.
When this happens the head of the beer can be significantly impacted, and the head or lack of it impacts the aroma, mouthfeel, and overall drinking experience.
3) Start out pouring your beer with the glass tilted at a 45-degree angle, as the glass gets filled to approximately 80% full tilt the glass back straight up. The goal is to have the head of the beer take up ½ – 1 inch of the space at the top of the glass.
You can get more details on how to drink a beer so you enjoy all of its attributes here: How to drink a craft beer.
As you have seen a true pint of beer is either the US 16 ounces (473 ml) or the Imperial 20 ounces (591 ml), however, these days it really does depend on where you are and what size glass the proprietor of the establishment decides to serve their beer in. Do not be afraid to ask them, as you should be entitled to receive what you paid for.
Cheers, Big Robb is Out!