PhotoHow much beer is in a pint? In Michigan, the correct answer is so hard to figure out, a state lawmaker has proposed a bill to fix it.  

If passed into law, House Bill 5040 would require that any bar or restaurant selling a “pint” of beer make certain that pint contains a full 16 ounces.

Sounds pretty straightforward—every elementary school in America has a curriculum requiring students, at some point, to learn “one pint equals 16 ounces.” That’s presumably what Michigan state representative Jeff Irwin, one of six Democrats co-sponsoring HB 5040, had in mind when he said “when people buy a pint and they're served less than a pint, it strikes me as sort of low-level fraud.”

Kind of flat

But HB 5040 opponents, including members of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, say the bill is both unneeded and based on a misunderstanding.

MLBA’s executive director, Scott Ellis, told, a local news outlet, “We have other pressing issues right now that need to be addressed over the amount of alcohol in the pint,” and furthermore, he claimed the word “pint” is a generic term that can refer to any glass of beer, not necessarily a 16-ounce measurement.

On the other hand, HB 5040 supporters counter, anti-fraud consumer laws already cover customers in gas stations and grocery stores—whether you buy a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk, that gallon’s supposed to adhere to a specific term of liquid measurement. Same goes for pint, quart and similar terms—if a pint of buttermilk from a grocery stores is supposed to hold 16 ounces, why not hold bars and restaurants to the same standard?

By contrast, “pint” glasses in bars and restaurants can hold as little as 12 ounces, only three-quarters of a pint.

As of press time, it’s far too early to predict whether the bill will make it into law, or just slowly evaporate in the legislature.

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