Friday, July 29, 2011

Measure for measure

I went to the grand reopening of BeerMania a few weekends ago, and have been again a couple of times since.

God knows why. Well... amongst the reasons: it's new, it deserves to be given a chance; it's near The Bookworm, so a convenient stop-off after a speaker event there; I have a couple of friends who live nearby; it's got a decent outside seating area; and there's a woeful lack of competition these days, a serious dearth of worthwhile bars around Sanlitun.

But I do not like the place. It's a bland, characterless, boomingly empty space. The loo is a long, unsignposted trek away, on the far side of the foyer of the hotel of which the bar is a part. The enormous beer list is otiose, a tiresome affectation. The staff haven't got a clue what they're doing. And it is TOO EXPENSIVE. No, I find nothing to like about the place at all.

But.... the thing that really pissed me off about it is this....

The last time I was in, I was just meeting a couple of friends, wasn't intending to stay long, didn't really want to drink much more. I disregarded all the stupid beers, and scoured the menu for my default order, Stella. In a menu like that, it took me two or three minutes to find it. Aha, there it is, at last.  Small, 25 rmb; large 40 rmb. Well, I baulk at paying 40 rmb for anything (though I suppose this is slowly becoming the standard for 500ml of non-happy hour Stella in this city). A small one will probably do me. And (although there's significantly more chance of a - potentially massive - overpour in your favour with the larger glass) 25 rmb for 330ml would actually be, theoretically, ever so slightly better value.

However, the size of the measures is not marked on the menu: is a large draught 500ml, is a small draught 330ml? What's going on? I try to check with the staff, but they have no idea - can't tell me what size either of the glasses are, much less which represents the better value (numeracy is an extremely rare virtue amongst the Chinese). Still, every other bar that sells Stella in Beijing uses a 330ml glass for a 'small' - so, it seems a reasonable assumption that BeerMania will be following suit (I feel sure they used to, didn't they, before this recent expansion?).

Reasonable, but INCORRECT. No, in fact, they're using a 250ml glass - which I don't think I've ever seen before, and it looks absolutely TINY. In fact, I am fairly convinced that it wasn't much more than 200ml (we can't really trust the stated capacities on glasses manufactured in China; later, The Choirboy and I were comparing our two 500ml Stella glasses in there and found them to be of conspicuously different profiles). I managed to drain it in a single gulp, and ordered a 'large' glass instead. [If that had proved to be a 300ml or 400ml rather than a 500ml, I think I probably would have run amok!!]

Not advertising the size of your measures??  That's a very basic NO-NO, I'm afraid. I'm not going back to a bar that stuffs up on something as fundamental as that.

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