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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