200 years of the legal measure of a pint

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Anniversary marked: it has been two centuries since the passing of the Weight & Measures Act 1824, which defined a pint in law for the first time (image: Getty/eddieberman)
Anniversary marked: it has been two centuries since the passing of the Weight & Measures Act 1824, which defined a pint in law for the first time (image: Getty/eddieberman)

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Today (Monday 17 June) marks the 200th anniversary of the Weight & Measures Act 1824, which defined a British pint.

Greene King CEO and chairman of the British Beer & Pub Association​ Nick Mackenzie explained to The Morning Advertiser​ why the pint is so important.

He said: “The phrase the pint is massive whether you’re a politician or member of the public, it’s in the conversation.

“It comes back to the language – everyone has grown up with that measure, it has lasted 200 years, got through lots of changes in regulation, lots of changes whether we are in or out of Europe and always stayed synonymous with having a beer in a pub.

“That is really important, that heritage point and history point. The fact pubs and beer are in our DNA and the phrase a pint is part of that.”

“[A pint] does play into the heritage of beer and pubs. That is one of the strengths of the pub and brewing sector and something tourists and hopefully lots of politicians and the public, realise.

“It’s a great way to recognised and with the Euros​ having just started, what better way to celebrate.

High costs

However, Mackenzie warned of the economic impact on the sector without support from the Government.

He added: “We as an industry invest billions of pounds but it’s hard to do that when the cost of doing business is so high.

“It’s harder for the industry to swallow. We want to give people a good time but we need that investment from the Government to help the economy grow.

Looking to the general election on 4 July, Mackenzie called on the incoming Government to support the sector.

He said: “Whichever of the parties get in, they are going need the economy to grow and pubs and hospitality can help them do that. If they want to avoid raising taxes then they have to get growth.

“The tax point is really key. In England and Scotland, [in a pint] there is 54.2p in duty. That’s really stark and has been for a long time.

“[There are] 936,000 people who are working in pubs and we want to keep it that way.”

Concrete plans

A number of the parties have now released their manifestos​ ahead of the election with the Conservatives having pledged to ease business rates by increasing the multiplier on distribution warehouses that support online retail over time.

Meanwhile, Labour promised to replace the current business rates system while the Liberal Democrats have outlined a commercial landowner levy.

“[It was ] good to see business rate in the manifestos but [we] need to see that turned into concrete plans. It’s a big change and we need those sorts of bold decisions to be made to help regenerate high streets,” Mackenzie added. 

Furthermore, consumer group the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) also marked the anniversary by calling on all political parties to commit to changing the law in the next parliament to guarantee pubgoers get a full pint, meaning the head on a pint or a half wouldn’t be included in the total volume.

National director Gillian Hough said: “The pint of beer or cider is part of our culture and heritage across these islands and it is right we mark the 200th​ anniversary of the pint being defined in law in Britain and Ireland for the first time by raising a glass to our great local pubs, social clubs, breweries and cider producers.

“But with too many customers receiving short measures​ at the bar, CAMRA wants the next UK Government to introduce a legal right for pubgoers to receive a 100% liquid pint each and every time they are served.

“This would give drinkers a guarantee of getting what they pay for when they are supporting local pubs and breweries and would be a fitting way to mark the 200th​ anniversary of the great British and Irish pint.”

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