The Colonial Beer Drinker•


  • John Gunn


One trouble when ordering a beer in Australia is shared with other countries - you have to remember what amount you want, where you are at the time, and the local popular name or one according to the capacity of the glass. Even a 'glass' can be a specific measure - 200 ml. in Western Australia and Victoria but 225 in  Queensland. The now uncommon pint is 575 ml. in New South Wales but 425 in South Australia. Some of the many names for large beers such as cruiser, dreadnought, silo, and Trickett (after a champion sculler) enjoyed limited or local use, while others established a place in history: long sleever was popular for many decades after the 1870s, less so deep sinker and Bishop Barker (he was 6'5" tall). During World War II an approximate pint was a cut down beer bottle which gloried in the name of Lady Blarney, honouring the wife of the C.I.C. Like the English 'dead men', empty bottles have been dead marines for over a century, perhaps via 'dead mariner' or, as Grose suggested, an expression of sailors' contempt for the seamanship of marines. Marine, hence mariner, marine dealing, and marining have been used in a formal way in connection with the bottle-o trade. The schooner of 425 ml. is now the main large drink in New South Wales and the Northern Territory, but it only holds 285 ml. in South Australia. There has also been rare use of Yankee schooner (suggesting its source), Botany schooner, a vague association with the Sydney suburb, and black schooner, the drink permitted in the coalfields before one cleans up after a shift.