Limits were placed on beer production by the Australian Government in March 1942, requiring breweries to reduce their output to two-thirds of previous levels.
The resulting beer shortages led to widespread profiteering and black-marketing in some parts of Australia, including Sydney and Melbourne.
Although wartime restrictions on beer production were lifted in March 1946, it took well into the 1950s before the breweries recovered.
Beer shortages persisted as a result of delays in repairing or replacing inadequate equipment, and a lack of raw materials and shortages in labour.
The Illawarra Mercury reported ” a beer joke” at Wollongong on July 1 1948:
Members of the S.C. Branch of the U.L.V.A. have been chuckling amongst themselves over a neat joke played on a well known licensee a couple of weeks ago. Beer is generally short on Monday mornings — in fact, is non-existent at most hotels. On Monday morning, this particular licensee received a phone message to the effect there was an eighteen gallon keg of beer at the Showground. It was a ‘left-over’ from a footballers’ do, he was told. Post-haste, a truck was despatched to collect the keg. It was delivered, placed in the cellar and connected. ‘The beer’s on,’ the licensee told some thirsty souls at the bar. He drew a schooner, but it appeared mostly froth, so he drew another. Still puzzled, he tasted it — It was Ginger Beer.
GLASSES BOTH FOR BEER – AND CANDLES
Because of the electricity rationing in Sydney, a new use was found for empty bottles and glasses at this hotel bar. The barmaids used them to hold candles.
– Newcastle Morning Herald Thursday 18 October 1945.
CANDLES SERVE IN BLACKOUTS
Power failed in the King’s Cross area last night. Here a barmaid is serving beer by the light of two candles at the Gladstone Hotel, William Street.
– The Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday 17 May 1949.
WOMEN ARE allowed to drink in the public bar of the Regent Hotel, Sydney, when men are not claiming bar space. Regent is probably the only city hotel in Australia where public bar is open to women. They come in off-peak hours – 10am until about 4pm – but not on Saturday. So far no trouble has been reported in the bar. Women seem to drink less paying their way at the bar than they do when trying to keep up with men folk it lounge two and foursomes. Men behave better when women are present, keep their language under control and don’t get tipsy.
– Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA) Friday 15 November 1946.
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