Beer sellers downsize to woo women wine lovers
It is hoped that speciality beers served in a third-of-a-pint glass will appeal to diners, particularly women, who would otherwise drink wine with their meal.
The move is a central part of a 1 million "Beautiful Beer" campaign which has been launched by the British Beer & Pub Association in an attempt to reverse a decline in sales, which last year fell by nearly two per cent.
Recent figures have shown that 36 per cent of women in pubs drink wine but only 14 per cent drink lager, despite some high-profile converts including the singer Madonna, whose favourite tipple is British beer.
Mark Hastings, of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: "We’re looking at new glass shapes and ways of drinking beer that aren’t about volume, but are more about tasting the drink.
"A third of a pint is already a legal measure. This is about providing beer in a range of measures and glass shapes that are more appealing and of a higher quality than the standard half-pint and pint glasses.
"Beer consumption at the moment is declining so doing nothing is not an option."
He said the wine-glass shape meant it was easier to appreciate the flavour of the drink.
"It enables people to taste it rather than to feel they have to get their way through a pint," Mr Hastings said.
"Women are used to sitting at a table with a glass of wine. Now they can sit with the same sort of amount of beer in a glass.
"A pint is a very large glass. The sort of glass shape we are looking at enables you to appreciate beer in the same way you appreciate wine - the bouquet and all the rest of it."
Christina Lamb, who runs Shieldhill Castle country house hotel near Biggar, which is known for the quality of its wine cellar, said: "There are a lot of designer beers now and it is quite trendy to drink beer. But you do need an elegant glass - it adds to the occasion."
She said gourmet versions of dishes like steak and kidney pudding would go well with "a nice glass of proper beer".
Wine drinker Alexandra Richard, 29, who lives in the Borders and works as an insurance broker in Edinburgh, said she would be more likely to have a beer if it came in a smaller glass.
"I’m not someone who drinks huge quantities of alcohol and I think a key thing is the size," she said. "The idea of sitting down to a meal with a pint of beer would be a bit overwhelming. So something the size of a glass of wine would be preferable and I certainly would consider it. But if it’s a real gourmet meal in a lovely restaurant, I really don’t think a small glass of beer is going to take over from having a lovely vintage wine."
But Annabel Young, secretary of the Glasgow branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, felt serving beer in wine glasses partly betrayed the spirit of the drink. "Normally beer is a big hearty drink, a thirst-quenching drink. It’s got to be served in a pint glass," she said.
"I just don’t drink halves. If I want to drink less, I’ll put a half in my pint glass."
However, she added: "It might work with stronger beers among the foodie set. If it’s over five per cent alcohol, one of the strong beers, I think that’s possibly appropriate."