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Your Beer, Or Why Mathematics Is Important

Neighbor kid’s parents are elated that I can help with his middle-school math and science homework.  He’s not so convinced, citing that he’s going to be a doctor when he grows up.  Doctors don’t use mathematics at all, do they? *ducks as calipers and scopes are thrown by various family members*

But wait.  Kid’s jumping ahead of himself.  There’s college and beer in between.

[An engineer and physicist working at a federal research laboratory, Chris] Holloway has noticed that the typical pour in a pint glass is less than a pint. And since the widest part of the glass is at the top — nearly twice as wide as the bottom — leaving just the top half-inch of the glass unfilled costs the customer nearly 15% of the pint he’s paying for. So what may look trivial to bartenders and to drinkers, thanks to our tendency to focus on height rather than width when taking the measure of liquids, is a serious tavern injustice.

To address this, he’s produced the Beer Gauge, which he sells on his Web site for $2 plus shipping and handling … It’s essentially a pocket-sized card, with a groove built in to make it fit snugly along the side of a standard U.S. pint glass. Near the top are lines that drinkers can line up with the top of their pour to show the bartender how much beer they’re missing. Whether anyone would do this in a crowded bar with a busy bartender is an open question. Holloway emphasizes that it’s important to be polite but firm: “At times I have reminded the bartender that the 15% to 20% of the beer missing from my pint is their tip. They are more willing to fill the glass at that point.” Of his local bartenders, he said, “They know me now, and I have to admit, when I order a beer, it’s filled to the top.”

He adds that bartenders aren’t to blame. “The real issue here is not that bartenders or bars are trying to rip us off, it’s the poor design of a pint glass,” Holloway said.

Now you know where your tax money is going and what pocket protectors are really all about.  And why you should make kids do their math and science homework.  For your beer drinking pleasure, of course.

3 comments… add one
  • liprap September 2, 2009, 12:26 PM

    “Doctors don’t use mathematics at all, do they? *ducks as calipers and scopes are thrown by various family members* ”

    Doctors certainly use mathematics, but – taken as a group – damn, doctors’ handwriting needs some serious help.

  • Blair Tyson September 2, 2009, 3:26 PM

    Filling the glass – any size – to the top and not letting the head form means you are not going to get the aroma of the beer and you will miss a large part of the pleasure. (unless you are just in it for the alcohol)

  • Maitri September 2, 2009, 4:15 PM

    See, this is why I drink red wine.

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