Maybe we would like it topped up after all

Four pints of beer.

We’ve always said we’re not that keen on CAMRA’s ‘Take it to the top‘ full pint campaign, because we like our pints to look something like No. 1, above.

Some people, you see, get a pint like No. 1 and ask for it to be topped up so it looks like No. 2: headless and dribbling over the sides of the glass. For a while, because some bar staff wanted to avoid being asked to top up (it wasn’t always done politely) they started serving every pint No. 2 style to be on the safe side. Eventually, we found ourselves actually having to ask for a head on our pints when we ordered them, which is silly.

Now, if we get a pint that looks like No. 3 (a little shy of the top of the glass) we might ask for a top up, or we might not, depending on our mood, how pleasant the bar staff are and, crucially, whether we think it’s been done cynically. Yes, it’s a classic fence-sitting position from us.

Last week in London, however, really for the first time in our years of pub-going, we got served several pints that looked like No. 4, in more than one pub. That is, to be clear, with an inch a centimetre or two of foam and then another inch centimetre or two of empty space, just to be on the safe side. Too much, right? (Or, er, not enough, rather.)

In one  pub, we were able to sit and watch as one person after another was given the same treatment, suggesting, to our minds, that it might be a matter of policy — that their profit margins might be reliant on consistently serving short measures to, say, 70 or 80 per cent of their customers.

If that’s what our fellow drinkers are getting militant about, then their irritation suddenly makes much more sense to us.