‘In no way do pubs want to be accused of short serving’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Test findings: the research shows seven in 10 beer and wine servings were short measures (image: Getty/	HRAUN)
Test findings: the research shows seven in 10 beer and wine servings were short measures (image: Getty/ HRAUN)

Related tags Licensing

Pubs don’t want to be accused of short serving their customers, one trade body has said in response to the results of research which claimed more than two thirds of beer and wine servings were short measured.

The research, which was published by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), showed of the 137 test purchases, 96 of these (around 70%) were short. Of the short measures, 41 of them were light by 5% or more, equating to more than a quarter (29%) of drinks tested.

Furthermore, it found the majority (86%) of beer was short​ while under half (43%) of wine was.

Again for beer, the average deficit was 4% while it was 5% for wine measures. CTSI worked out the short beer measure was equivalent to a loss of £1.70 a week for the average beer drinker, totalling £88.40 a year. The same calculations for wine was £2.20 a week, meaning it would be £114.40 a year.

A 175ml glass of wine in Walsall was found to serve the largest deficit at 15% at a price point of £3.20.

The next largest short measure was found in Belfast – a 13.4% deficit on a glass of wine, which cost £7.20.

Another glass of wine in Havering was found to have the third largest deficit of 12% on a 175ml measure, costing £5.75.

The research also stated while legally, the head is included​ in the measure for beer, there has been ongoing discussion around this.

Public sentiment

Its public polling showed more than a third (35%) of the 2,000 surveyed felt head should not be included compared to 23% who said the head should be included.

CTSI chief executive John Herriman said: “While this is a snapshot, it is the first time that we have been able to build a national picture of how widespread short measuring of alcoholic drinks are and the potential detriment to the average consumer of around £115 every year suggests there is the need for more comprehensive research to better understand the impact of short measures, not just for alcoholic drinks but across a broader spectrum of consumer goods.

“Weights and measures is a key role for local authority Trading Standards, but right now we simply don’t have the resources to allocate, and even the equipment to use, to undertake spot checks that ensure consumers are getting what they pay for.”

He called on the sector to ensure guests receive value for money by making sure drinks are the correct measures.

In response to the research, British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Pubs across the country take great pride in serving the amazing range of beer brewed in this country and in no way want to be accused of short serving the millions of customers who enjoying visit our nation’s pubs each week. 

“Beer is carbonated and is typically sold with a foamy head although there is considerable difference between consumer preference for the head that different beers naturally produce. 

“This is reflected in industry guidance which says that the measure of beer served with a head must include a minimum of 95% liquid.  Customers who would like less of a head should always feel free to ask for a top up and should never be refused.”

Extremely concerning

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) labelled the outcome of the research as “extremely concerning” and urged pubgoers to request a top up if their drink is short.

National chairman Nik Antona said: “Consumers shouldn’t have to feel short-changed when they support their favourite pubs, social clubs and taprooms.

“The idea 70% of all beer bought at the bar is being short measured in the UK is extremely concerning.

“CAMRA wants the Government to make sure pubgoers have a legal right to receive a 100% liquid pint every time they are being served.

“This latest study is another worrying indication of an issue that has been affecting consumers for a number of years now and should hopefully provide a catalyst for change.

“For anything that is short measured and particularly anything more than 5% short, you should ask the bar staff for an immediate top-up.

“You are well within your rights to do this and the staff should comply and fulfil this request. If you get a negative reaction when you do this, you can get in contact with Trading Standards to report the incident​.”

Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley and CTSI vice president Jess Phillips said the cost of living meant people can hardly afford a drink.

“To discover you’re being served short measures adds insult to injury. A short measure cheats us all but affects those worse off the hardest,” she added.

“Being able to afford to go out for a drink is not easy and you should get what you pay for. In this current climate, it is great to see this campaign from the CTSI raising awareness of the important work of our Trading Standards profession.”

Related topics Licensing law

Related news

Show more