The Pub Owner That Ran Afoul of the Magna Carta

Eno Sarris, May 04, 2016

The tag line for the story on Eater reads "This seems like a waste of everyone's time" and it's not wrong. It was, literally a waste of taxpayer money when Michelle Craggs, owner of The Fleece Pub in Northallerton in the United Kingdom, was taken to court for serving a pint that was short two tablespoons

In the end, she was let go after a talking to, and it's really much ado about nothing. Maybe we should move on. 

Except! I always hated this approach to serving beer and liquor when I lived in England. I never knew that the Weights and Measures Act required bars to serve drinks to exact standards, but I knew how it worked in practice. If you got a vodka tonic, you got exactly one shot of vodka, poured from a liquor dispenser that did not allow for heavy pours. 

"Mate," I remember saying to my friend as he poured me a drink. "You can make this a double."

Except he couldn't. It would be tracked by the system and would show up short in the receipts at the end of the day. I had to pay for my double if I wanted one. 

And as much as this irked me to no end -- I was poor and I just wanted a heavy pour -- I didn't realize how far this goes back in time. This goes back to the Magna Carta. 

Don't believe me? Look at item #35 on this document, which was written in 1215. 

(35) There shall be standard measures of wine, ale, and corn (the London quarter), throughout the kingdom. There shall also be a standard width of dyed cloth, russet, and haberject, namely two ells within the selvedges. Weights are to be standardised similarly. - See more

Are you kidding me?! 800 years ago they decided that a pint needed to be a pint and you'd be in trouble if it wasn't a pint. I mean, it makes sense for buying and selling food stuff, and before the standard pint glass, it probably made a ton of sense for ale, too. And maybe it could help those without the math sense to understand that the skinny tall glass had less in it and wasn't worth paying more for. 

But, yes, Michelle Craggs? Sorry, but it was in the Magna Carta. What, did you not read it?