All aboard the schooner – the two-third pint measure

by Neil Gerrard, Monday 26th March 2012 10:54

The two-third pint, otherwise known as the schooner, has made few waves since it became a legal measure in October 2011. But almost six months on, and with declining per capita alcohol consumption and ever-rising beer duty, could all that be about to change?

New research from brewing giant Molson Coors earlier this month showed that 40% of British drinkers would order a two-third pint if it was on offer, despite only one in 10 currently being aware of it. "Consumer insight highlights demand for this new measure and presents an opportunity for pubs and bars to increase their sales," said Chris McDonough, managing director - brands business at Molson Coors, which has already embarked on a trial of the measure with pub giant Punch Taverns.

Meanwhile, Heineken has announced that it would officially launch new branded glasses for its Heineken, Amstel and Tiger brands this week.

blazing a trail
If it is still taking time for the schooner to develop mass-market appeal, some pubs and bars around the country have blazed a trail with the format. Most notable among those is Scottish brewer and bar company BrewDog, which offers schooners in all of its six bars around the country.

The company, which produces its own glassware, now offers customers the choice of a measures for beers up to 6% abv, while those at 6% to 9% are generally offered in schooners, with beers of 9% to 10% in halves and those above 10% in thirds.

Kerry Allison, manager of the BrewDog bar in Aberdeen, explained that the schooner offered a variety of benefits, from customers simply expressing a preference for a slightly smaller volume of alcohol, to the fact that smaller measures mean that the beer stayed cool to the bottom of the glass. "Craft beer should be about choice, not just what flavours you want but what size glass you want to be drinking it from," she said.

Meanwhile Max Chater, who manages BrewDog's Nottingham bar, has seen schooners outselling pints, in large part thanks to the fact that the bar's core beers, 5AM Saint and Punk IPA, are typically offered in the two-third pint measure. So far this month, the bar has sold 1,070 pints and 2,241 schooners.

"For us it works really well because our beers are very flavoursome and sometimes the abv can be slightly stronger than what you would expect. We serve them out of the tap, lightly carbonated and a little bit chilled and we want them to stay like that," Chater explained.

Value for money
The Heineken-owned Scottish and Newcastle Pub Company has also had successes where licensees have chosen to use the glassware (which costs the same per glass as a pint glass), although it is still a relatively rare sight. Robert Heeps, the lessee at the Canal Inn in Canal Street, Stirlingshire, said the schooner had been a hit with his customers because they felt the measure offered them value for money. Its popularity has meant that he has started to put up point of sale material to promote the fact that he offers the new glass size.

But some still take a more traditional view. "There is no appetite from customers for it in our pubs," said JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon. "There has never been a single e‑mail correspondence from managers asking for schooners."

It is probably still too early to tell whether the schooner will take off - that is certainly the view of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), which supported its introduction. But with the growing availability of glassware, the ever-rising duty on beer, and as the schooner starts to enter the public consciousness, those pubs still offering the traditional measures may yet be forced to re-evaluate their position.


FACTS AND FIGURES
77% The proportion of 18- to 34-year-olds citing at least one benefit in ordering a two-third pint
25% The proportion of respondents who like that schooners offer less liquid/alcohol
13% Those who said they would order a schooner with food
20% Those who see price as a factor in choosing a two-third pint
Source Molson Coors Brewing Company


the reaction from twitter
@SamsBrasserie We love the idea, but when I questioned people in the bar they said want to stay with halves & pints. Think we will still give a try.
@HallamshireHaus I like the idea of a 2/3 for strong beer. It makes sense. But I don't think our customers would take to it. I will float the idea tonight.
@MelissaCole I think it's good to have consumer choice, me I like pints for session ales but like stronger beers in a variety of measures.
@Mcmoop Thirds good for tasting if there are lots of beers. I'd be a staunch defender of the pint as the traditional beer measure.
@TheVictoria We do indeed sell schooners, as do our sister venues @Jekyll_n_Hyde, @RoseVillaTavern and @IslandBar.

By Neil Gerrard


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