When Is A Pint A ‘Proper’ Pint?

A pint of beer at Little Sprig Seatoun

For nearly a year, the fourteen Sprig + Fern and Little Sprig Taverns have dubbed themselves the ‘Home of the Proper Pint’ – a moniker that has re-sparked a long-standing debate. What actually is a pint?

A Google search will tell you that a ‘pint’ equates to 568.261 millilitres. This is consistent with the British Imperial System measurement, which was traditionally one-eighth of an Imperial gallon (which was 4,546ml).

Of course, alongside furlong, scruple and countless others, gallon as a measurement has since gone (largely, and understandably) in the bin, when we flipped to the metric system in 1965. Once that change was made, it was deemed that Imperial units would now be solely, and legally, defined in metric terms.

One British Imperial pint became 568 millilitres. Simple enough, right?

Things only get messy when we take in to account the Americans, and their United States Customary System.

George Washington’s search for “uniformity in currency, weights and measures” in 1790 led to a redefinition of the Imperial gallon – meaning, in America, a gallon was adjusted to 3,785ml. The measurement known as a ‘pint’ remained one-eighth of a (newly-defined) gallon, therefore became 473ml.

So now, to ask what constitutes a pint, your answer largely depends on where  you are and who you ask.

Given that in New Zealand, our Head of State takes up residence in London and an entire quarter of our country’s flag is the Union Jack, we see it as most sensible to stick with the British definition.

Which is why, when you ask for a pint at any Sprig + Fern Tavern, you’ll be handed back a proper pint of award-winning craft beer or cider that measures (more or less) 568.261ml.

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