IndyEats May 2022

In praise of the half pint

A pint is grotesque sometimes, isn’t it? Sean Russell believes a half is the symbol of civilisation, and also a good option during the cost-of-living crisis

Saturday 07 May 2022 07:00 BST
There is a joy in ordering a small beer at lunch or dinner
There is a joy in ordering a small beer at lunch or dinner (Getty/iStock)

If I’d ordered a half pint at university I would have been an outcast among my friends. I’m not entirely sure why – except that custom dictates I must react in the same way had one of my friends ordered one.

There must be something about peer pressure and group psychology in there. Something about it being “British”, and a pint being a “man’s” drink – I’m not sure my female friends would have had quite the same indignation aimed at them.

But beyond that, I’m at a loss. Recently I have come to embrace and, yes, even love the half pint. To me, it has become is the symbol of a civilised nation.

Half pints are small enough that a perfectly cold one remains so from top to bottom. It can be had at lunch without making you drunk, nor making you seem a drunkard. They are better with food than pints, since they make you less bloated and you can drink them for longer over the night, thus dragging out the tipsy period, and, in these expensive times, they cost half the price.

Picture this: it’s sunny, you’re sat at a table outside, people are going about their business as usual around you, you have your sunglasses on, you’re reading a book or writing or chatting with your friends or just thinking and people watching. Well, a pint would be grotesque. Better a handy little half pint, with a chilled glass and perhaps some olives – and then the scene is complete.

The Italians know this, as do the Spanish and French. I am lucky enough to have spent time in all of these countries and I have realised the absolute joy of ordering a small beer at lunch or dinner. After all, how many other drinks do we have by the pint-load?

It occurs to me that dainty things are the most civilised. Along with my half pint, I also like wine which is generally served in measure nowhere near a pint; I like to drink espressos, I like tapas and aperitivo. Nothing in excess, nothing debauched.

So then, what is barbarism? Super-sized everything, surely?

Yes, there’s peace in a half pint. A peace that says, enjoy the cold beer, life is good sometimes. It’s not about sinking yourself into oblivion, it’s about watching the world and being with friends and enjoying a drink.

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