You may remember from earlier articles that control of beer prices in the final years of, and immediately after, the war caused considerable tension and confusion. And reputed pints only made matters worse.
It's an odd anomaly of British law that while beer could only be sold in multiples of half and a thits of a pint - a law that had been around for centuries - bottlers could use any size they pleased. In particular the reputed pint, which in reality was two-thirds of a pint.
Another odd thing is where I first came across the reputed pint - Australia. At least back in the 1990's, about the only place the reputed pint was still in use. And, ironically, as a draught beer measure. Slightly bigger, too, as it's thrre-quarters rather than two-thirds of a pint.
"BOTTLED BEER PRICES IN ABERDEEN.I wonder why Scotland used reputed pints and England imperial ones?
Attack on "Reputed" Pint.
SCOTSMEN PAYING MORE THAN ENGLISHMEN.
Aberdeen City Food Control Committee met last night—Mr John M. Ross, chairman —and had under consideration, among other matters, the prices of eggs and fish—reported in another column—and the charge made for the reputed pint of beer as compared with the imperial pint.
. . .
Unfair Beer Prices.
Mr Frank Ambler moved a resolution in the following terms dealing with the price of beer:—
That this committee desire to draw the attention of the Food Controller the latest official retail maximum price list of bottled beer and porter, as adversely affecting the consumer in Aberdeen, where, generally speaking, the bottlers use the reputed pint bottles. According to the list, the fixed price the imperial pint bottle is only one penny in excess the bottles containing a reputed pint, whereas the former contains 4 gills and the latter contains only 2.5 gills (and very often less), or, a matter fact, the Aberdeen consumer is being called upon pay 9d for a bottle containing 2.5 gills as against the consumers in England (where the imperial measure is generally used) having only to pay 10d for a bottle containing 4 gills. The committee are opinion that if it is not practicable to enforce the imperial standard of measure here, the prices should be amended so as to prevent the bottler gaining undue advantage, at the expense of the consumer.
No doubt, he said, some of the members of that committee were not directly interested in the consumption of beer, and no doubt some of them thought beer should not be consumed at all. He thought they would all agree, in the light of what had occurred during the war, that beer played a very important part with the working man. He (Mr Ambler) admitted that he took a glass of beer, and always felt benefited by it. - (Laughter.) He did not see why in Scotland they should have to pay more for their beer than anybody else. He took three reputed pint bottles to the Weights and Measures Inspector, and not one of them held 3.5 gills. The bottles hold only about 2.25 gills. Assuming, however that they held 2.5 gills it would just mean that they in Aberdeen were having to pay 3.5d for a gill of beer, against 2.5d where it was bought imperial measure. That meant that they had to pay 4d more for beer supplied by the reputed pint than for an equal quantity sold by the imperial pint. He thought the Controller did not know the local circumstances, and must have been badly advised in view of the vast difference between the prices.
Treasurer Fiddes asked if it not the case that a large part of the cost went to the bottle, the labour in filling the bottles, the corks, the labels, etc. It was the custom here of certain people to prefer the reputed pint, and there seemed to be an explanation of the difference in price from the extra number of bottles, etc., required for selling the reputed pint.
Mr Ambler said the price for a half reputed pint was 2.5d for a half imperial pint the price was 3d. The Controller had taken the cost of labour into consideration.
Dean of Guild Meff said he was not teetotaller. but, like the Treasurer, he was not an expert in regard to the system measures. Mr Ambler might defer his motion, and illustrate his argument at next meeting by examples. (Laugher.)
Mr Ambler said a lot of people were commenting adversely upon the reputed pint. He did not see why they should pay 4d more than the men in England.
Dean of Guild Meff—The Londoner might turn round and ask, "Why should I pay more for a glass of whisky in London than you can get it for in Aberdeen?"
Mr Ambler—There seems to be too many teetotallers here. (Laughter.)
Lord Provost Sir James Taggart said the cure might be to get the Imperial pint introduced here. They might recommend that.
Treasurer said the English brewer had only to supply and fill five bottles for 28 gills, while in Aberdeen they had to supply and fill 8 bottles for 28 gills.
Sir James Taggart—If you took a barrel of beer you would get it cheaper than by the reputed pint. (Laughter.)
Mr Ambler said the vast difference in the price they had to pay for the beer would not be represented by the difference in the cost of a few extra bottles.
Mr Ivan Sutherland seconded Mr Ambler's motion.
Lady Member's View.
Miss McRobbie moved that no action be taken. People who took beer could generally look after themselves. (Laughter.)
Treasurer Fiddes seconded.
Mr Ivan Sutherland said he was not beer-drinker himself, but there were complaints as to the poor quality the beer.
Mr A. Morrison said it was the beer not the bottle the man paid for. He did not get possession of the bottle.
Treasurer said the capital cost of the bottles had to be considered.
By 5 votes to 4 the committee decided take no action.
The Chairman said though he voted for the thought amendment, he thought Mr Ambler perfectly right, but that was probably not the place at which to bring the matter up.
Miss Taylor said she had refrained from voting, and the reason was that while she thought there was injustice, she believed the Food Committee had more important matters to consider. This was not an essential matter."
Aberdeen Journal - Wednesday 05 March 1919, page 6.
It's odd how much laughter there was in committee meetings and courtrooms back in the day.