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How Many Beers Are in This Pitcher?

I have many people with me, and none of them want to be left without a cold one

Every summer for the past eight years, I’ve been blessed and cursed with the responsibility of “coaching” a team of my friends in a 16-inch slow-pitch softball league. As is tradition in Chicago, the softball matters just about as much as the beer-drinking that takes place before/during/after the games. Win or lose, it’s my duty as coach to shepherd the team to a nearby bar where we celebrate with cheap pitchers of beer — specifically Coors Light (I don’t know why). 

Until recently, that is. After losing a season to the pandemic, we resumed play last summer and sauntered over to the patio of our favorite bar, where we were greeted with open arms. But one thing had changed: Rather than our cheap pitchers of Coors Light, the bar could only offer us buckets. These buckets contained six glass bottles of Coors Light and cost about three times as much as our beloved pitchers. 

The price we understood. The bar needed money and the process, labor and shipping of bottled beer makes it cost more than simply filling pitchers from a keg. But were we getting the same amount of beer as before? Also, now that I’m thinking of it: How many beers are even in a pitcher, anyway? 

Unlike 16-inch softball, it all depends on the size of your pitcher. Standard pitchers are typically either 32 ounces, 48 ounces or 60 ounces. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I have no idea the specific measurements of the pitchers my idiot friends and I were guzzling down on Sundays, but I do know they looked like this:

These plastic “stackable” pitchers, a mainstay for the type of bar that offers pitchers of beer in the first place, are usually 48 ounces. Assuming the average beer is 12 ounces, you can fit roughly four beers in that sucker. You might find this interesting, given these stubby plastic pitchers look smaller than most others. But you’d be wrong, as the average mass-produced 32-ounce pitcher looks like this:

A 32-ounce pitcher, of course, is just over two-and-a-half 12-ounce beers, or two 16-ounce pints. It’s hard not to feel a bit ripped off knowing that, but I guess my real beef is with the people who decided how much beer should be in a beer in the first place. 

Finally, there’s the 60-ounce pitcher, a classic design that you might recognize for its vertical indented columns and pinched spout

There are five 12-ounce beers in a 60-ounce pitcher, which according to Sound Brewery, is the most common pitcher found at restaurants and bars. So if you find yourself hastily reading this article in the middle of a bar, there’s a good chance that five beers is your answer. 

With another season of 16-inch softball around the corner, I personally can rest assured knowing exactly how many beers are in a pitcher. Better yet, it’s helped me accept the transition from pitchers to buckets of bottled beer at our usual post-softball hang. It turns out that the six beers therein weren’t only more hygienic, but they undoubtedly contained more ice cold, Cold As the Rockies™ Coors Light® by volume than we’d been getting before. 

Cheers to that, no?