Let's Hope Our Craft Brewers Are Smarter

By Glenn DeLuca

For BeerNexus.com

I’m sure many of you can remember back when you were a kid and your parents
made coffee. My Dad liked it perked, but then again there weren’t many, if any,
electric coffee makers back then. And they grabbed the classic coffee can, maybe
Maxwell House or Folgers or Chock Full O’Nuts, we didn’t have all the specialty
coffees we do today. And it was a One Pound can; a full 16 ounces. But then a funny
thing happened back in 1978. Coffee supplies were scarce and prices were soaring
so one by one the coffee producers all started putting less coffee, as in 13 ounces,
in the can. Interestingly enough they told the public they had found a better way to
roast the coffee so you could use less than you were. Wow isn’t that convenient
when prices are going up?? We noticed but we didn’t have much choice as the
manufacturers were in charge of how much they’d put in a can. I guess they all
figured it was better to give us a little less than to raise the price; what were we going
to do, stop drinking coffee.

And guess what? It happened again in 1986, the 13 ounce can shrank again; to 11.5
ounces. Not sure if there was any explanation then, but hey they had gotten away
with it once, why not again? We weren’t going to start drinking beer for breakfast,
which is a good thing.

So I took out my current can of coffee and it’s down to 11 ounces, not sure when that
happened. And the can isn’t a real can anymore, it’s cardboard! Don’t they know we
used those cans for storing nails and odds and ends and cleaning paint brushes?  I
took one of my last real cans, (yes I saved them because I use them) which is
probably a few years old and I see it was 11.5 ounces, so they got away with it again
in this century.  It’s taken a few decades to lose 5 ounces, which by the way is a
31.25% reduction.

Although I think coffee led the way other products followed. I remember how shocked
I was to find out my half gallon of OJ is really only 59 ounces…I wasn’t paying
attention, assuming I was still getting what I expected, they got me. Interesting though
I looked at the bottle of Cranberry juice in the frig and it’s a full half gallon, an
expected 64 ounces. So sometimes they’ll try to fool us and other times not.

My Half n Half is a full quart, no messing with that. A Coke or Pepsi is still a full 12
ounces, but look at this, a can of Sanpellegrino Sparkling Blood Orange is 11.15
ounces or 330 ML, short for milliliters. I guess if you make it overseas you can go
metric and round down.

And what about tuna? A can of tuna was 6 ounces at one point, but its 5 ounces now,
a 16.6666666% reduction.

So why am I looking at all these labels to see what the contents are? Well I’m at my
favorite beer bar recently, The Cloverleaf, working on my MBA; Masters of Beer
Appreciation (it’s good to be learned) and I’m drinking a Fullers.  While perusing the
label I see its 11.2 ounces…excuse me, this isn’t a 12 ounce bottle?? I also had a
bottle of Innis & Gunn and guess what, another 11.2 ouncer! So do they think we
won’t notice that 0.8 ounce or 6.6666666666% reduction? Maybe there’s another
explanation…maybe they’re concerned about our health and/or drinking and driving.
But then again they could lower the ABV if they were concerned as opposed to giving
us less, couldn’t they?

I want to make sure I’m not being deceived so check a bottle of Sam and a can of
Founders All Day IPA at home and they’re both the 12 ounce variety. Some in our
craft industry have moved to 4 packs instead of 6 packs, but we’re still getting 12
ounces in each bottle. And our brewers and bottlers check to make sure the bottles
are filled correctly. And if not they’re pulled off, and yes we call them “SHORTS.” We
don’t relabel them as 11.2 ounces.  They’re not sold, in many cases they’re given to

I need to see how widespread this is so head to the liquor store and do some
investigation. I don’t see any less than 12 ounces domestic beers, but here’s
Carlsberg Elephant at 11.2, Guinness at 11.2, Corona at 12, Heineken at 12,
Guinness Blonde (brewed in the USA at Latrobe, PA) at 12, Guinness Nitro IPA in
11.2 ounce cans…interesting.  So it appears to be a foreign thing, but not all of
them, so we need to make sure we check. They must think we can’t tell the difference
because we’re used to being duped for decades.

Well guess what; we’re talking about beer now and this will not go unnoticed…by us
the consumers. And the craft brewers may, rather should take notice and should
immediately pledge NEVER to begin trying to make SHORTS and selling them to us.

There was an American newspaperman and writer in the first half of the 20th century
by the name of Alfred Damon Runyon. He was best known for his short stories
celebrating the world in New York City that grew out of the Prohibition era. And we
know some of those short stories as Guys and Dolls and Little Miss Marker. But there
are also many interesting quotes attributed to him and there’s one (not one of his
most famous) that I’ve always liked that I think summarizes this situation quite well. So
in the words of Damon Runyon

“Do not sweet-talk me sweet-talker, for I am no stranger.”.

Glenn DeLuca writes about beer and culture of drinking. He may
be reached by writing thebigG@beernexus.com.

***   ***   ***
Glenn DeLuca
Outtakes from a life of beer.
beernexus.com presents
Big G's Beer Beat
by Glenn DeLuca
BeerNexus is proud to
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Glenn "
Big G" DeLuca
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