Training Day: pull it flat

Illustration: a flat pint.

Lots of drinkers in Bristol like their pints flat. That is, completely without foam.

We’ve written about this before but in the past week got more evidence when we saw a pub manager training a new member of staff.

“No, way too much head, bit more,” said the manager. “Just give it another pull.”

“Like this?”

“No, still too much head. You might get away with that up norf but not in Bristol, mate.”

“It’s OK, we don’t mind a bit of a head on our pints,” we said and then took the opportunity to ask a couple of follow-up questions.

The manager told us that older Bristolian drinkers especially really appreciate pints where the beer is absolutely to the rim with as clear a surface as possible.

He put it down to stinginess – “They’re afraid you’re doing them out of nine pence worf of beer.” – but confirmed that it certainly was a matter of preference, not the result of poorly-conditioned beer.

In Bristol, we’re beginning to think the default flatness of the pints is a pretty good indicator of how many born-and-bred locals drink in a particular pub.

In the city centre, where incomers, commuters and daytrippers drink, it’s quite possible to be served 450ml of beer with several inches of head (“Could I get a little top up, please?”) but that’s much less likely in backstreet pubs and the more down-to-earth suburbs.

The Drapers seems to struggle sometimes, too, with bar staff getting mixed messages from traditionalist locals and beer geeks. A few weeks ago we got served beautiful pints, foam piled high, with an apology: “Sorry, it’s very lively.”

Almost anywhere else in the UK, it wouldn’t have seemed so.

The good news is that at the pub we visited last week, the new member of staff eventually got the hang of it, pulling a string of pints with a perfectly reasonable amount of foam – neither excessively northern nor too strictly Bristolian.

2 thoughts on “Training Day: pull it flat”

  1. It’s a tricky situation, but almost 100% certain it is stingyness and people think they losing a bit of beer/money. If people want the beer to the top, then I’d have a glass that is 568ml to the lip. And if they like a decent head, then the 568ml line should be a good finger below the lip.

    When I moved to America, I was disgusted to work out after a few weeks that the pint (473ml) glass was to the rim. This happened when I’d procured one at home and poured a bottle of Sierra Nevada (345ml) into it. With a nice big head, it nearly filled the glass. Horrors ensued, as I got out the measuring jug.

    So when often paying $7 for a beer (and probably a dollar tip on top), I was regularly losing a dollar each time. Beer pouring out there is a wild west.

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