Beers served in 0.4 l portions aren't anything new. Flekovský, Sv. Norbert, Staropramen Granát, Velvet and Kelt (when it was around), and Ferdinand Sedm Kulí have always been available on that size, only. But it seems that recently, this plague has multiplied. None of the three newest brewpubs in Old Town, U Tří růží, Národní and U Dobřenských, serve any of their beers in a full, adult portion of half litre. There are also pubs like Pivo a Párek and Pivní Rozmanitost that are now selling some beers in 0.4l sizes, and even bigger companies like Plzeňský Prazdroj and Pivovary Lobkowicz have got on the game.
I don't like it, at all.
When I think of točené (or, to speak correctly, čepované) pivo, I picture a half-litre glass or mug (or a 0.3 l one, for those rare occasions that I want a malé pivo), so a 0.4l serving gives me the sensation that I'm being short-changed.
I know it’s only a sensation, it's not true (though if you can buy at Vojanův dvůr a half-litre of a beer from U Tří růží at the same price as a 0.4 at the brewery, or if a 0.4 l of Bernard Černý costs the same as 0.5 l used to, at the same pub, because of a gimmick, I'm not that sure). The way I see it, this portion size is a psychological trick similar to pricing a product at 99.90 instead of 100, as it's used mostly for the more expensive beers.
That makes it a bit silly. For better or worse, there's a growing a number of people, at least in Prague, who've got used to, and are OK with paying top money for beer they believe is worth it. Price has stopped being a default barrier for the success of a microbrewery, ask Matuška, if you don't believe me. So, if a pub is charging me 56 CZK for 0.4 l, why can't they charge 70 CZK for a full portion? I don't get it. (The case of Národní is even harder to understand, 35 CZK for a 0.4 l? What's the problem with 45 CZK for a half litre?)
To be fair, though, you could say this is a pet peeve of mine. After all, by volume, I'm still paying the same, glass size notwithstanding (with the exception of Bernard Černá Lavina, that is a rip-off). The 75 cl glass bottles, however...
I used to buy Antoš Tlustý Netopýr quite often. It wasn't cheap—110-120 CZK for a 1 l PET bottle—but I thought it was worth it. Lately, though, I've seen it only available in a very pretty 75 cl bottle FOR THE SAME FUCKING PRICE! Likewise with the beers from Frýdlant, and a few others I can't remember now.
Am I the only one who believes this isn't right, having to pay a 25% surcharge for no equivalent value in return?
We can thank the glass-bottle snobs for this; the people who believe and will tell anyone who wants to listen, and those who don't want, too, that PET bottles are not a worthy container for a precious liquid like good beer, and should only be reserved for crap like Braník, or whatever. They are, of course, unaware the the same was being said about glass bottles a century ago or so.
It is true that PET isn't an ideal material, I agree with that. But neither is glass*; I've bought my fair share of glass bottles (brown ones) with beer that was oxidised, light-struck, or even worse. I try to be more careful now, and the problem has all but gone, same with PET. It's not that hard, really.
So, what I've decided to do is to boycott all Czech beers with an ABV lower than 8% in 75 cl bottles (and their even more awful siblings, the 33cl bottles). I'm not buying them anymore, to drink at home; to take to a dinner-party, or as a present, even the most overpriced ones are still better value than a wine for the same money.
* Unless we're speaking about bottle or cask conditioned, anything other than drinking a beer straight from the conditioning tank is a compromise on quality.