A man walks into a bar and orders a beer. How difficult could that be? In Australia, more complex than you might imagine.
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.
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.
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|
|QLD||N/A||Pony (or Five)||N/A||Seven (or Glass)|
|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)|
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|
|NT||N/A||Pot, Middy or Handle|
|QLD||N/A||Pot (or Ten)|
|TAS||Eight||Ten or Pot/Handle|
|VIC||N/A||Pony (or Handle)|
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|
|TAS||Fifteen (or 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.