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Beer United Kingdom Idle Science

Drinking Too Much? Blame Your Glass 115

sciencehabit writes "Before you down that pint, check the shape of your glass—you might be drinking more beer than you realize. According to a new study of British beer drinkers, an optical illusion caused by the shape of a curved glass can dramatically increase the speed at which we swill. The researchers recruited 160 Brits, and asked them to watch a nature documentary while they drank beer from straight or curved glasses. The group drinking a full glass of lager out of curved flute glasses drank significantly faster than the other group--possibly because the curved glasses impaired their ability to pace themselves while drinking."
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Drinking Too Much? Blame Your Glass

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  • Drink through a straw.

  • by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:09PM (#41199837) Homepage Journal
    ...that drinking out of my gf's pumps was my problem. Now I know for sure.
  • by KrazyDave ( 2559307 ) <> on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:10PM (#41199843) Homepage
    ...what the pub and bar industry has known for 200 years. Attaboy, researchers! Next research mission; Do those free peanuts and pretzels make you thirsty for more beer, too?
  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:12PM (#41199855) Homepage

    Just one small study with 160 people cannot be trusted. I feel it my duty to help out with the research, I think that this merits a lot of experimental evidence to ascertain the veracity of this important question. I shall be off to the pub to do repeated tests using different glasses - this evening, straight after the new Dr Who has aired.

  • Does this make any real difference whatsoever? Surely people are still capable of counting the number of glasses they drink, or is drinking one pint too quickly "binge drinking" now?

    • Assuming the drinker in question limits their intake by units, this is true.

      But most people limit their intake by a time based function: let's have another while we are here!

      [units] = [time] * [consumption]

    • Re:And? (Score:4, Informative)

      by houghi ( 78078 ) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @01:39PM (#41200433)

      They will be able to count. I doubt that they will actually do so.
      What people do is go out and then go home at a certain time.

      Say that in that time you have 5 pints out of pint glasses, but because you now drink out of a straight glass, you will have only 4. That is 20% less consumption.

      No matter what company you are working for, 20% less sales is a LOT.

      Or look at it the other way around. Imagine that you are a company that sells beer in straight glasses. Going to curved ones can increase your sales by 25%.

      In Belgium Stella Artois is chaging the Stella straight glasses for curved ones. They do not change the beer. They do it purely out of marketing reasons. Make the beer classier and not compete with their other standard beer Jupiller. They estimated that the whole image change will take about 10 years. Turn it into a classier beer. And all this without changing the taste of it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Holding a fluted glass, you're more likely to drink faster off the top just to make it easier to hold w/o spilling. It's a less convenient form factor compared to a straight mug.

    People try to avoid spillage as it invites accusations of tipsiness or worse.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:21PM (#41199923)

    The Mobius Mug and the Escher Pint are the worst causes of hangovers, but you don't see them at most bars because the profit margins suck.

  • by another random user ( 2645241 ) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:27PM (#41199987) Homepage

    From the article (i know, what am I doing reading that...)

    "They assigned each group to drink either about 177 milliliters or about 354 milliliters of lager or soft drink from straight or curved glasses."

    No they didn't! It's a British report and beer sure as hell is not measured in ml!

    Still, the actual measurements used (6 fl oz and 12 fl oz) still seem to be an odd choice to me. Have to wonder why they didn't use 10 fl oz (a half) and 20 fl oz (a pint) to more accurately represent the normal quantities of beer drinking. []

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As in any international publication, the volume must be expressed in the international system of Units (SI,
      It's actually you who are still using the old, unnecessary complex and arbitrary imperial system. Sorry.

    • Because a pint, or a half, would be a whole glass, and the aim is to study the ability of the drinker to estimate volume based on the glass shape. It's too easy to estimate the volume when you ask them for a volume that's a standard glass size.

      • If so, it's a less useful result. If someone pours you a glass without you knowing the size of the glass, it's pretty hard to estimate anyway. If you buy a pint of beer, then you know that you have a pint of beer. Unless you buy it in the USA, in which case you have 83% of a pint of... something.
  • From Observation... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dripdry ( 1062282 ) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:29PM (#41200011) Journal

    I had a major "aha!" moment after reading this. It is absolutely true in my experience, oddly enough. I get a pint in one of those tall thin glasses and it goes down *fast*. Otheriwse I tend to be more of a sipper. I guess I just figured that might be why they serve beer in those at some of the "chain-ier" restaurants out there. They already know this information, perhaps?

    The beer shoots down the into the mouth faster, I think, less feeling against the skin above the lip (what's the term for that?), so maybe you don't get that "I have to wipe my face off" feeling, and just keep drinking?
    The feeling against the lips/mouth is different between glasses, and I'd be interested to get more data about the cognitive EXPERIENCE of the beer and probably other factors... I posit that this IS an ok place for me to totally geek out on thinking I'd love to conduct an experiment on this sort of thing and learn a lot more details than this research may have accounted for.

    • exactly. it has nothing to do with an "optical illusion". one pours down the gullet in a more efficient manner is all.
  • i wonder if they tracked the type of beer as a variable.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 )

    The shape of the glass doesn't matter if you count how many drinks you have had.

  • Is they stop working after about 5 minutes and someone has to replace or repair it so it starts working again.
  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:42PM (#41200081)
    What is this "pace themselves while drinking" TFA is referring to? I have never encountered this concept before.
  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:42PM (#41200087) Homepage Journal
    I can attest that the shape of the glass causes over drinking. When I was using my half yard, I could go though a six pack of Guinness in minutes. Switch back to a pint glass and it was a leisurely half hour per.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Usually when I'm at a bar the only time I look at a glass is when it's empty. The rest of the time I'm paying attention to the people I'm with.
  • If this kind of research is interesting to you, check out [] ... it's not a diet book, but I definitely lost a lot of weight after I read it.

  • Yep, sounds like the attitude most people have nowadays. Nothing is ever the fault of the individual; it's always the environment that caused his actions.
  • Personally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QX-Mat ( 460729 ) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @01:31PM (#41200379)

    Personally I find beer impairs my ability to pace myself. YMMV.

  • Personally, I never use a glass; also, I prefer cans to bottles.
  • ... you can only rent it!
  • I am a regular social drinker, and I have some fair doubts about this study.

    I have tried many different beers in their trademark glasses. But regardless the glass, I always stop at 4 (British) pints of regular beer (5% alcohol level) , as that's the absolute limit of liquids I can hold in my body cage.

    My answer for "why some people drink too much?".. I think they are genetically able to process alcohol much faster. Also, the colder climate can make you drink slightly more. Or it could be just that, beer is

  • In the UK, lager is not beer. Beer is never served in lager glasses.

  • has always been a schooner. But it's been years since I've seen a bar that has one. (I have 3 at home; 2 glass, 1 wood.)

    Second favorite container is the liter mug, followed by the half-liter.

    After that I really don't care. I'll drink out of a jelly jar if that's all you've got.

    But never plastic. Lord no, never plastic.

  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @06:51PM (#41202225) Journal

    If I drink too much, it's my fault. Not my glass, not the bartenders, not whom I'm with. My fault. I'm the idiot who didn't stop drinking.

    Come on peeps, take responsibility for your actions. Seriously, the glasses fault that we might drink too much? What's next, it's our shoes fault when we speed?

  • by Yer Mom ( 78107 )


Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?