The "Beer in Australia" article on Wikipedia, includes a table listing the names for various size glasses in the different states. One peculiarity is that some South Australian glasses are one size down compared to the equivalents in other states.

For example, it lists their pint glass as three quarters of an imperial pint (which would be called a schooner in other states that use that size), and their schooner glass as half a pint (which would be called a middy in a number of other states).

So my question is how did this discrepancy occur? The Wikipedia page includes a number of references that indicate that these names have been used in SA, but doesn't indicate why.

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    I doubt anyone can answer this with any veracity. most likely it is just something to mark up as regional differences. Sort of how all soda is called "coke" in the southern part of the US. Some bar in Southern Australia probably served pints in the wrong glass for a while and it became the standard there. Or else the wikipedia article is wrong. Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 18:10
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    The Wikipedia article is verbose. I've never even heard a lot of those names used before. Pint and schooner sizes often differ between venues. There really isn't much of a standard except for perhaps legal definitions.
    – Anthony
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 2:22
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    @BillRawlinson: Your comment contains a nonsequitur. That regional differences exist in many things does not inherently preclude tracing provenance. Soda is probably called "Coke" in the southern US because Coca Cola is based in Georgia and has been the most popular carbonated beverage since carbonated beverages became popular. But yes what you say is certainly true otherwise, it might prove more difficult to find why other regions use "fizzy drink", "pop", "softdrink", "soda" or "soda pop". But it's still just "might" so you never know ... Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 4:07
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    @anthony-arnold is correct, these names are sometimes so regional as to be different in neighbouring pubs. There are places in Queensland where a pot and middy (small and medium) are the only two glasses you'll find. Don't know about SA, but in Cairns and Townsville the rumour is that smaller glasses sizes are so that you can drink your entire glass before it warms up...
    – Paul Hicks
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 4:06
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    @PaulHicks Yes, I was chatting with a bar tender this weekend about that very thing. Apparently it's gone out of fashion now, but beers used to be served smaller so you could finish them while they were still cold.
    – Anthony
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 4:09

2 Answers 2


In short, it's because of taxation.

In the Commonwealth of Australia's Parliamentary Debates of 1904 (p.8534), The Honourable Chris Watson (who went on to become the 3rd Prime Minister) made a statement about the brewers of Sydney strongly objecting to a proposal for an excise duty on beer. The sentiment amongst Sydney's brewers was that the additional cost would be difficult to pass on to the consumer, and in fact they had thus far failed to do so. In response The Honourable Alexander Poynton, said that the tax had successfully been passed from brewers to consumers in South Australia by making the glasses smaller.

For the record, The Honourable Chris Watson expressed sadness at the notion of smaller glasses.


While the names might differ, this is the key principle: there’s a name for a large (425ml) and small (285ml) size in every state. Most (but not all states) use schooner for the larger size, but the options for the smaller one vary considerably:

there is no reason that I can find to why they have different measures but i have found a really good source of information to help understand what size beer to order

here is the handy guide for buying your beer

  • That doesn't really answer the question. I know that there are different names in different states (I linked to a similar table in the question). The question is why the names used in South Australia seem to be one size smaller than what those names refer to in other states. Commented May 30, 2016 at 8:40

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