Why Are American Beers Served In Smaller Portions?

If there is one European country that can compete with America in terms of love and consumption of beer, it’s Germany. You’re more likely to be served beer than water in most German restaurants and it’s┬ánot a small beer, either. Though we may look through Oktoberfest with a more stereotypical lens than it deserves, those large steins are in fact the average size of a German beer. Called a “masskrug” these iconic steins hold an astonishing one liter of beer (32 ounces). In contrast to the standard U.S. pint (16 ounces), a masskrug is over double the size.

These size differences also apply to German beer cans and bottles. A German bottle runs between 11.2 to 16.9 ounces. Meanwhile, over in the U.K., the size is around 15 ounces. Keen-eyed observers will note that American beer bottles, cans, and glass sizes are, in fact, smaller than their European counterparts. What gives? How come we get the short end of the stick, especially considering how much Americans love beer?

The U.S. has had its ups and downs when it comes to alcohol consumption. As far as bottle/can size is concerned, the story ranges from changing industrial shipping standards to the temperance movement that spawned one of the biggest government bungles in history to latter-century regulations. Each had a role to play in the current size of American beer servings.