An imperial pint is a unit of measurement equivalent to 20 fluid ounces, 568 milliliters, or 1.2 US pints. Imperial pints most commonly crop up in the world of bartending, where beverages continue to be served in imperial pint glasses in some regions. Many glassware companies sell glasses designed to accommodate an imperial pint, for those who prefer this unit of measurement, and it is sometimes possible to see recipes calling for ingredients in imperial pints.
This unit of measurement is part of the imperial system of measurement, which was once used in England and many of its colonies. Imperial measurements were standardized in 1824, before being refined several times and ultimately abandoned in favor of the metric system of measurement. For much of the world, the metric system is the established and familiar system of measurement, and the imperial pint is sometimes defined as a half liter for the sake of convenience, even though it is a bit more than a half liter in actuality.
The demise of the imperial pint was a cause for much tribulation in pubs around the world, with consumers being convinced that they would be cheated by the establishments they patronized once the metric system took effect. Many old-timers were also attached to the volume of an imperial pint glass, and they continued to demand beer in imperial pints. The imperial pint was also a source of confusion to people from the United States, who use a system of measurement known as standard or English units; although the term “pint” is common to both systems of measurement, the volumes of imperial and US pints are different, as noted above.
In establishments where beverages are served in imperial pints, it is common to see several different units of measurement on offer, all with slightly different charges. This allows consumers to pick a beverage in a volume they are familiar and comfortable with, and it explains why bartenders may sometimes ask for clarification when you request “a pint” of beer.
Transitioning between systems of measurement has historically been chaotic, as people grow accustomed to thinking about things in terms of the system of measurement they grow up with. For example, someone accustomed to asking for weights in pounds often has trouble when dealing with countries which use the metric system. For this reason, many cosmopolitan businesses keep scales which read in multiple systems of measurement to “translate” requests for things like an imperial pint of lager or a pound of potatoes.