Icons of England
  • Introduction
  • The Icons
  • Nominations
  • News
  • Learn & Play
  • Your Comments

The Pint

The Basics

We may still have our milk delivered in pints, but for most of us, the pint is first and foremost a big glass filled with beer served to us by a familiar face down the local. We have been drinking a fermented barley brew of one sort or another since Roman times, and we don't look likely to stop at all soon.

Pint (silhouette white)
To visitors from overseas, the English typically like to drink their beer warm, but in practice that only means that the national taste has nearly always been for a pungently hop-scented bitter brew that doesn't need chilling to within an inch of its life, like bland continental lagers. As well as bitter, though, there is a whole spectrum of styles, from mild and porter to stout and seasonal ales with all sorts of natural flavours in them.

Quite as fascinating as the development of all the various styles of the brewer's art has been the huge variety of receptacles that have been in use over the centuries for drinking them from. Who would like to see a revival of the whistling tankard, which had an actual whistle built into it, so that you could alert the hospitable landlord when you needed a refill? The height of civilisation, surely.