Page last updated at 23:01 GMT, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Cheers to saving the British pint

By Andy McFarlane
BBC News

David Trott pulls a pint
Customers would not be happy to lose their pints, according to David Trott
An agreement has been reached with the EU to allow Britain to keep measuring its roads in miles and serving beer in pints.

The decision put drinkers in one London pub in a celebratory mood, as BBC News found out.

In tough times, with recession looming and work hard to come by, Britons have always been able to seek solace in a quiet pint.

But even that comfort could have been lost, had the European Commission got its way and forced pubs to start serving in metric measurements.

For David Trott, duty manager at the Defectors Weld, Shepherd's Bush, the thought of scrapping the pint in favour of a continental half-litre is a "nightmare".

"We would have to reprint menus, reprogramme the tills, restructure the pricing. The cost would soon add up," said the 29-year-old.

Using millilitres might encourage more people to drink less. Binge drinking is less common in Europe
Mary Taylor

"The pub industry would be dead against it and I think my customers would be quite offended."

Banning the pint would certainly leave a bitter taste in the mouth of beer lover Matt Lee, 35.

"I like having a pint. If there's one thing you recognise about Britain, it's a pint of beer. It's our heritage, something we've had through the ages," said the independent TV producer.

Exhibition designer Adam Preston, 25, felt the same.

"I'm glad they've let us keep the pint. It allows us to retain a bit of British values and culture," he said.

He was less averse to being told to stick to a 110 kilometres-per-hour speed limit on motorways - though not after a pint, of course.

"We've all been taught in kilometres and I work with metric measurements, so someone could talk about 'a mile' to me and I don't quite know what it is.

"It would be expensive to change the road signs but maybe they would have had digital signs in the future, so it wouldn't have mattered."

Sipping a glass of wine, teacher Mary Taylor, 32, was a rare fan of metric servings.

Mary Taylor and Martin Laurence
Mary Taylor and Martin Laurence were at odds over the pint's fate

She said following Europe's lead would give drinkers greater flexibility to choose smaller serving sizes, which could help prevent problem drinking.

"I worked in Spain where you get smaller servings and you could better regulate what you've had and check how drunk you are.

"Using millilitres might encourage more people to drink less. Binge drinking is less common in Europe."

However, for her partner - 30-year-old New Zealander Martin Laurence - there was no argument:

"Britain wouldn't be Britain without pints," he said.

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SEE ALSO
Q&A: Pounds, pints and the EU
11 Sep 07 |  Europe
Will we ever go completely metric?
02 Sep 04 |  Magazine

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