AUGUSTA — Beer drinkers, you know how it goes.

You’re looking forward to that tall, cold one after work and what you get instead is an almost full glass or a glass with three inches of foam, instead of beer. But you’re so thirsty you don’t bother to complain. You pay up and drink.

But state Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, wants to make sure that when you order a pint of beer, you get just that — 16 ounces.

Patrick, a longtime paper mill worker, has a bill before lawmakers that would require Maine bars and pubs to pour full pints and not an ounce less.

“If you go and buy a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk, you expect to get a gallon,” Patrick said. “Some places will give you two or three inches of foam or head on a beer and some people like that, but there are a lot of others who expect to get what they are paying for.”

Patrick says he bowls regularly in Portland and travels the state a bit as a state senator and has heard from beer drinkers all over who say the same thing.


In some cases, Patrick said, bars and restaurants advertise a “pint” when they are using 14-ounce glasses.

“Basically, it’s a proof-in-advertising-type bill,” Patrick said. 

Patrick’s bill goes before lawmakers on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The committee has jurisdiction over the sale of alcoholic beverages in Maine.

Patrick said he hadn’t included provisions for enforcing the new law but said he believes there are sufficient numbers of state inspectors who already ensure bars and restaurants are abiding by state liquor and health laws.

He said the timing of the bill is hinged on other proposals before lawmakers to change laws around craft beer manufacturing and other types of small-batch alcoholic beverage production in Maine.

“I figured if we are going to have some major changes throughout the whole system and everything, we might as well make sure that everyone gets what they are supposed to get,” Patrick said.


Manning the bar at Legends Sports Bar and Grill in Auburn on Tuesday, Shawn Sabourin said the bar was in compliance.

“We already serve 16 ounces and 22 ounces, so if we advertise it as a pint, it’s 16,” Sabourin said.

As for purveyors who may pass 12-ounce glasses off as pints, Sabourin said, “I think selling 12 is a little ridiculous because I think people looking for a small beer won’t order a pint.” Those in search of smaller portions will order bottles, he said.

Sabourin said at a bar he worked at previously, they carried 16-ounce bottles behind the bar but if patrons asked for a draft of the same variety, it came served in a 12-ounce glass.

At the Fire House Grille in Auburn, owner John Roy was enjoying a full bar as well as a brisk dinner service.

“We have 21 draft lines here,” Roy said. “One of our beers is Spencer’s — it is a very expensive beer and it comes with its own glass that’s molded out of a 14-ounce.”


Roy said for a six-barrel keg (124 pints), he spends $200.

“So, to put it in perspective, for a 14-ounce glass that I have to serve with that particular beer — to make a minimum 16-ounce pour off of that, you’re talking anywhere up to $10 for a beer,” he said.

Roy said keeping this brew, made by Trappist monks, at a reasonable cost to his customers, he has to serve it in the smaller glass. However, Roy said, he never refers to the specialty glass as a pint.

As for the proposed bill, Roy said, “I’m not opposed to that, especially if the reason the bill is put forth is to protect consumers from being ripped off by ounces — four ounces per pour — sure, I don’t think that’s a bad idea.”

Roy said his beer sizes run from special glasses such as the Spencer to the 20-ounce Imperial pint.

Another bill before the committee Wednesday, offered by state Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland, would allow a beer manufacturer to host up to nine tenant beer-makers from different companies at a beer-making facility.


Current law allows just one and Alfond has said the measure would help smaller craft beer-makers meet the demand for their product and increase statewide production.

The measure is an expansion of a law that Alfond ushered through in 2013 that allowed the Shipyard Brewing Co., Maine’s largest brewer, to host Peak Organic.

Another bill wending its way through the Legislature is one that would allow those who make hard cider in Maine to add natural flavorings and sweeteners without incurring a higher tax.  

That bill is being offered by state Rep. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner, but has not yet been scheduled for a committee hearing.  

“As it is now, if you use those, you move up into the next tax bracket,” Timberlake said. Timberlake’s family owns Ricker Hill Orchards and produces both a sweet-flavored, non-alcoholic and sparkling cranberry cider as well as hard cider in cans. Timberlake said adding flavoring to the hard cider does not enhance the alcoholic content of the drink.

Specifically, his family’s company would like to add pear juice and cranberry juice to their hard cider.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.