If there is one legacy that sets us apart from our European neighbours it is the stubborn refusal to abandon all that we hold as 'British'.

This may be cultural institutions or traditions we hold dear and form our national identity, through to more practical daily functions that are an enigma to others. 

This can take several forms, from lengths (such as feet and inches) weights (pounds and ounces) and liquid measures - such as the famous 'Pint'.

Ironically it seems nothing brings greater pleasure to a foreigner to our shores than entering a British pub and asking for the legendary 'Pint'!

So just how long has this famous Imperial measure been with us that is so quintessentially British? 

First references to the pint measure date back to the 14th century, but it was the 'Imperial Codification of Units' in 1824 ( which itself was based on the Roman units imposed on nations that fell within its Empire) that was the fundamental difference between the British and American unit measures. Although Independent of Britain America still continued to use the unit measure, but at 16 fluid ounces to the pint, rather than the British 20 fluid ounces. Referred to in the US as 'customary units' this is the equivalent of 473 ml and 568 ml respectively.

Although Europe did use a 'pint' measure in the past it varied considerably, between half a litre (500 ml) to over one (1000 ml) but  the introduction of the metric system in the 19th century put paid to such wide variations as the measure was replaced. 

The standardization bought about by the UK joining Europe in 1972 however attempted to put an end to 'Imperial' measurements for good.  Whilst market stall holders put up a valiant fight to hold on to 'pounds and ounces' European pressure finally forced their hand - and left a bitter legacy.

For the drinks industry though so entwined in our national psyche was the 'pint' measure that it has remained an impenetrable barrier that no amount of European dictate can dislodge!   In 2008 the EU finally abandoned its attempts to eradicate the pint measure in Britain, with a consolatory attitude of  'coexistence'.   

Whilst in the 'on' trade this has been the case, sadly not so much for the 'off' trade...

The demise of the returnable pint and half pint bottle ( which had been encouraged by the bottle deposit system) that was returned to a brewery to be washed and sterilized in a continues cycle then refilled, and the introduction of a new approach to glass recycling has seen the unit measure practically disappear.

Ironically though in many parts of Europe and the Americas the deposit system is still widely used, and is the norm.


The increase in the 'off' trade take home market, especially within the supermarket sector, has seen the ubiquitous 500 ml bottle become standard.

Curiously however one brewery, from a country not normally associated with the unit measure, has taken up the gauntlet and re introduced the 'pint' measure (of 568 ml) to our shelves!

Volfas Engelman were established in 1853 in Kaunas, Lithuania, and like so many other Eastern European breweries has seen many changes, from private ownership, through to state (communism) back to private again in 1994.

The brewery was particularly famed for a beer produced during the interwar years (1919 -1939) called 'Rinktinis' which disappeared during the communist era, and has recently been re introduced.

Although all are lagers in the Lithuanian tradition, the beers in the range are sterile filtered but encouragingly carry the wording 'nepasterizuotas'  which adds to the freshness of flavour.

What is striking however is the packaging which has a true sense of elegance and style. From the embossed barley corn that cups the hop cone within, through to the label design itself which is neatly balance by a smaller label toward the bottom of the bottle which clearly stated the 'Pinta' size.  

The beers are a welcome addition to our shelves - and received with a large measure of satisfaction!

The Imperial measure it seems reigns triumphant once more!


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