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Of Bottles & Kegs
WYSIWYG Meets the World of Beer
By Jim Anderson

It all hit us when we walked into a supermarket one day looking for some rye bread. Scour the aisles as we might, there wasn't one loaf in the house. What they did have, however, were stack after stack of rice cakes. Miles of them. Nearly 20 varieties. They had plain rice cakes, onion rice cakes, sesame rice cakes, cheddar cheese rice cakes, bleu cheese rice cakes, nacho cheese rice cakes, BBQ rice cakes -- we couldn't even make it to the end of the row -- were there bubble gum rice cakes there, waiting to give us minutes of low-calorie enjoyment?

To say that we have too many choices in America today would be to go against a generation of Yankee ingenuity and Manifest Destiny (for the countries who export to us, that is). To put a limit on our choices would to be to limit each and every American's constitutionally-guaranteed right to liberty, and to deny us the choice of imagry to which to subscribe: the Marlboro-hackin' cowboy, the Coors Light-guzzlin' volleyball geek, the Neon-drivin' girl next door.

And to ask, "who needs all those flavors of rice cake," or even proclaim, "if I want BBQ, I won't be reaching for an artificially-flavored, air-injected grain product" would be to trivialize Americans' "right" to ingest whatever insane snack food concept with a 500,000-year half-life they choose to dump into their digestive system.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not about to blast the beer industry for allowing so many products to enter our market -- that would undermine all the hard work I do for the Restaurant Report. What I'm getting at is that as more and more beers arrive on the scene, they have to arrive in something -- and that brings with it a host of mixed blessings.

On the good side, there is now an immense number of packages that our immense number of beers comes in, which gives us -- on both sides of the bar -- more options than ever before. This means that bars don't have to commit to buying more expensive or unusual beer than they can sell in a reasonable amount of time, and consumers can buy in different sizes to suit different occasions.

On the bad side, there's rampant confusion over just how much we're getting in our bottles and kegs. So, here we are today, with no global standard of liquid measure, and to make it worse, beer containers are arriving in not two, but three different measures: U.S. ounces, Imperial ounces and milliliters. It's an unholy tangle in which you never seem to know quite what you've gotten when you get it.

With these bewilderments in mind, I've compiled a handy-dandy conversion chart so that those of you in the beer trade can better cost out your products, paticulalry those few Belgian ales that cost over .20 per ounce! And speaking of costing out products, pints of beer come in three different sizes around here (14oz mixing glasses, 16oz pint glasses and 20oz Imperial pints), and the public is beginning to catch on. So if you're calling it a pint, make it easy on yourself and sell a pint.

HANDY-DANDY CONVERSION CHARTS

DRAFT

SIZE

U.S. GAL

LITRES

U.S. OZ.

U.S. PINT

SSlim Keg *

5

18.9

640

40

20 litre **

5.3

20

678

42

Pin ***

5.4

20.4

691

43

-barrel

7.75

29.3

992

62

30-litre

7.94

30

1016

63

Firkin ***

10.8

40.8

1382

86

50-litre ~

13.2

50

1690

105

-barrel

15.5

58.6

1984

124


BOTTLES

SIZE

LITRES

U.S. OZ

Pony/Nip

.2

7

25cl

.25

8.45

275ml

.275

9.3

33cl

.33

11.18

12oz

.36

12

375ml

.375

12.7

Pub Draft Can

.44

14.9

-litre

.5

16.9

Bomber

.68

22

750ml ~~

.75

25.4

Magnum

1.5

50.8

Jeraboam

3

101

Key
* Also Cornelius keg
**Also Keglet ball/bag
***English casks
~Euro-keg
~~"Champagne"




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