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Glass or jug?

October 6, 2019

The other night I asked for pint of bitter in a pub and the barman said: “Would you like that in a glass or a jug?”

I knew exactly what he meant, of course, but it occurred to me that this would be a most puzzling question for a foreigner. A glass or a jug? Un verre ou une carafe? Un vaso o una jarra?What could that mean? And why is one even offered such a choice?

A glass is a straight glass – although the most popular design is not completely straight but has a bulge about two-thirds of the way up. A jug is a dimpled tankard with a handle sticking out of the side. The jug looks the more traditional, but apparently isn’t. It was invented in the 1930s – a time of retro-design, with its roadhouses, Tudorbethan architecture and fake wooden beams. Nevertheless, I have a fondness for the jug, so that’s what I chose. It’s not the older design, but so what? Anyway, it’s the beer that’s in it that’s the important thing.

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2 Comments
  1. Mark Brafield permalink

    Now this is really interesting. What you call a jug, I would have called a tankard or mug. If I had been offered a ‘jug’ of beer, I would have expected a large tapered vessel with a handle on one side and a spout or lip on the other, out of which I would pour pints of beer into individual glasses for my friends. A larger version of a milk jug, if you like.

    I remember being both impressed and horrified when I was in a restaurant one evening with a particularly fastidious friend, and he sent back his gin and tonic on the basis that it was in completely the wrong sort of glass. To this day I am still not quite sure what the correct type of glass is for a gin and tonic.

    I suppose, however, I could now ask my son. He has just started his gap year by working as a cocktail waiter in a local American-themed restaurant and tells me that every drink has its own particular type of glass. In keeping with the American style, beer is sold by the ‘schooner’, being a 2/3 pint glass. Wikipedia tells me that this was originally a large measure of sherry, the smaller measure being the ‘clipper’, both names deriving from the type of ships that brought the sherry over to this country from Spain. Wikipedia further tells me that ‘since 2011, beer and cider is permitted to be sold in 2⁄3 imperial pint (379 ml) glasses known by drinkers as ‘schooners’, though these are not defined as such in UK legislation’.

    So your bartender could have offered you your beer in a glass, jug, mug, tankard or schooner; overall, then, I think you got off pretty lightly.

  2. Simon Carter permalink

    A schooner is also a beer glass in Australia. The most popular glass is probably a middy which is smaller – a small glass doesn’t give your beer time to get warm which is important when it’s as hot as it can get there.
    It’s slightly ironic that there was a drive to bring back “straight” glasses in the seventies in place of mugs and it’s now been found that due to the thickness of the glass and the handle that mugs are probably better to drink beer from.

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