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Let's hear it for the half-pint

Lately I've been getting sneaky in bars.

I've perused tap handles, noted a few things that semi-interest me and launched into stealth mode.

"Can I have a taste of that?" I'll say, implying that I want to try a certain beer before deciding whether to order it properly.

Most recently it was just after work and a hit of bitter India pale ale seemed a perfect way to end the day.

But I didn't want a full pint; I didn't love the IPA on draft, and I didn't want that much beer. The bartender poured 3 or 4 ounces that I savored for a minute before ordering what I wanted all along: a bourbon with a couple of ice cubes.

My guilt was alleviated by two factors. The whiskey was more expensive than a pint of beer, which was good for the bar and bartender's bottom line. And, more relevant: There would have been no problem if the bar in question had the sense to offer vessels other than pint glasses.

So, ladies and gentlemen of the food and beverage industry, hear this plea: add half-pint glasses to your shelves.

Many brewery taprooms already arm themselves with an array of glassware and sizes, encouraging customers to order 4, 8 or 16 ounces. They understand that one size does not fit all when it comes to beer. Especially good beer.

Sometimes you like a beer enough to drink 8 ounces, but not 16.

Sometimes you just want a taste of beer before strolling the whiskey path.

But the biggest problem I find, especially in the world's better bars, is that too many interesting beers are waiting to be had; I often want the saison, the pale ale, the IPA, the porter and the barrel-aged stout. But that doesn't mean I want five pints of beer (well, not always).

Denver's Great Divide Brewing understands. After only selling pints in its taproom, the brewery began offering half-pints for half the price last year.

"We actually sell a lot of half-pints nowadays," Great Divide taproom manager Jennie Richau said. "As a bartender, if I see someone is on the fence about having another beer, I offer the half-pint, and most people go for it. Or sometimes if someone can't decide between two, I suggest a half of each. It works out well for everyone."

Exactly. This trend won't take off without pounding on a few bars, so I hereby pound, declaring the beginning of the crusade: Viva la half-pint!

Who's with me?

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