Pat Nolan Blog

No room for half-pints in Bittles Bar

A Belfast publican has put in writing what the trade has known all along – that a half-pint of stout is not merely half the time and effort of a barman providing a full pint.

Customers here often criticise barmen for charging more than half the price of a full pint for a half-pint of stout. But it’s more complex than this with the half-pint incurring the same costs as a full pint for time spent pouring, glass collection, glass washing up etc.

And so Belfast publican John Bittle of Bittles Bar in Church Street erected a sign in his pub to point out that half-pints of Guinness would no longer be sold on the premises.

The sign, which went viral on social media last Spring, stated: “Half pints notice: Due to Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol we are no longer able to sell half-pints of Gunness [sic]”.

While keeping tongue firmly in cheek John nevertheless wanted to make a valid point on behalf of the trade.

It takes the same time to pour a half-pint of stout as it does a full pint and John said his pub was “too busy” to continue sales of half-pints of stout.

(As for the misspelling of ‘Guinness’ John explained that the man who made the sign is dyslexic.)

“It only went up during the week and nobody has kicked up any fuss or complained,” he told the Irish Independent at the time, “I think most people know it’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun and they’re asking if it’s true and we’re telling them it is.

“We’re a small place here and we’re selling hundreds and hundreds of pints a day and there’s no room for selling half-pints.

“It is a bit of work with Guinness, it’s a bit of an art form. Really, we’re a city centre pub; we’re a small pub; if the people pay you by cash they’re also using your change in the till.

“You’re not going to get the same experience drinking a half-pint as you are a full pint anyway,” he concluded wisely, “I know people mean well but we only have 10 tables here. It doesn’t pay us to sell half-pints.”

As for the Brexit reference, John said, “Most people know it’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun and some of the tourists wouldn’t be sure, but at the end of the day, they’re happy.”


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