Think you know how to order a beer? Think again.

A man walks into a bar and orders a beer. How difficult could that be? In Australia, more complex than you might imagine.

Quick Guide

Beers by State

Large (425ml)

Schooner: everywhere except SA where it's a Pint

Medium (285ml)

Middy: NSW, ACT, NT, WA

Pot: NT, QLD, TAS, VIC
Schooner: SA
 
Small (200ml)

Seven: NSW, ACT, NT, QLD, TAS

Butcher: SA
Glass: VIC, WA

Tip

Here at Bottlemart we’re committed to supporting the responsible service and consumption of alcohol. Because not just the name, but the size (and therefore alcohol volume) of beer glasses varies significantly, what might be a ‘standard serve’ in one State, is more than ‘standard’ in another. Remember, one standard full-strength beer is about 260ml, a little less than a 285ml pot or middy (as they’re called in most states). Four or more standard drinks in three hours and your BAC is over 0.05.

Background

Remember when you used to be able to order a simple coffee? It had milk or not, sugar or not. You were lucky if you were served ground beans rather than a teaspoon of Nescafe in hot water. The complexities of ordering a cup of coffee these days pale into insignificance when compared with how to order a beer depending on where you are ordering said beer in Australia.

 
Aussies have made standard beer sizes into a Mastermind specialist subject, basically because they vary by State. With six states and two territories we’ve got eight regions assigning whatever names and liquid measures they feel like.
 
In fact there are over 15 different glass names and measurements across Australia, and if that wasn’t hard enough, some of the names are the same – but with different sized contents.
 
Woe betide the non-native who exposes themselves as a Terry Tourist by using the wrong terminology. So here’s a simple ready reckoner guide to ordering a beer in Australia. You’re very welcome.
 

Small Serves

The standard ‘small’ glass of beer, is 200ml. There are smaller ‘small’ glasses, there are larger ‘small’ glasses, but let’s start with the most common size. It’s pretty much served everywhere around the country, and is most often referred to as a ‘Seven’. This is an historic throwback to its Imperial measurement equivalent – seven ounces. There are at least three smaller sized beers as per the table below, but they’re very rarely used and most Aussies will wonder what would be the point.

State 115ml / 4oz 140ml / 5oz 170ml / 6oz 200ml / 7oz
NSW / ACT N/A Pony N/A Seven, Glass or Beer
NT N/A N/A N/A Seven
QLD N/A Pony (or Five) N/A Seven (or Glass)
SA N/A Pony N/A Butcher
TAS Small beer N/A Six (or Beer) Seven
VIC N/A Pony (or Horse) Small Glass Glass (or Beer)
WA Shetland Pony Bobbie (or Six) Glass (or Beer)

 

 

Medium Serves

Your every day, garden variety, not too big, not too small glass of beer comes as a 285ml or 10 ounce beverage. This is the serving size with which most people get into trouble when ordering outside their geographical comfort zone. There are four different and equally common names – Pot, Middy, Handle and Ten – and some States change terminology within States. What might be called a Pot in central Brisbane for example, could be called a Ten in Far North Queensland. As Pints (see Large Serves below) become more commonplace, some pubs have introduced the Half Pint as well, but these are usually only available in pubs with a British heritage, or which serve boutique beers such as ales and stouts. And a Handle is just the same size glass but with a … handle.

State  225ml / 8oz 285ml / 10oz
NSW/ACT N/A Middy
NT N/A Pot, Middy or Handle
QLD N/A Pot (or Ten)
SA N/A Schooner
TAS Eight Ten or Pot/Handle
VIC N/A Pony (or Handle)
WA N/A Middy

 

Large Serves

If you’re going to have a beer, the Schooner is arguably considered the perfect unit of beer to have. It provides just the right amount of refreshing, malty fizziness to allow leisurely consumption without the beer getting warm. Beer contained in pint glasses historically didn’t have to contend with this issue, being of the non-chilled ale, stout or bitter variety but in Oz you might want to consider how thirsty you are (or how cold the ambient temperature is) before ordering a pint of lager. Warm flat beer really isn’t too appealing. And just to complicate matters, there’s news that some NSW and ACT premises are serving a ‘schmiddy’, halfway between a middy and a schooner at 350ml. Decried and denounced as a lesser vessel, it is nonetheless gaining popularity in the boutique beer enclaves of trendy inner-city establishments.

State 425ml / 15oz 568ml / 20oz
NSW/ACT Schooner Pint
NT Schooner Pint
QLD Schooner Pint
SA Pint Imperial Pint
TAS Fifteen (or Schooner) Pint
VIC Schooner Pint
WA Schooner Pint

 

 

Extra Thirsty Serves

For those with an extra large thirst, the Jug is for you. Available in most States, the Jug is a 1140ml behemoth of beery deliciousness. It’s not an actual glass on its own, as the name suggests it’s a jug which you’ll usually share with your mates by pouring it into a Pony, Bobbie, Seven, Pot, Middy, Schooner or Pint glass of your choice.

 

Now, having provided what we hope to be a comprehensive guide, there will doubtless be many readers claiming that a particular name or size referenced above is rarely used, out of date or just plain wrong. As hard as we’ve tried, we’ve discovered that terminology changes not just between States, but within States, and even between different pubs, clubs and bars. We know it’s a contentious and ever changing landscape, so we’d love to hear your thoughts and comments if you’ve got different experiences.

 

 

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