Beer taster Bee

Drunk again, eh sarge?

Alfred Bee

Alfred Bee

Ex-Police Sergeant Alfred Bee, of St. John’s Home, Toowong, used to be paid to get drunk one day a week. Each Sunday, he used to stagger from one Brisbane hotel to another until he had to be carried home – and all in the line of duty. Mr Bee, now 77 years old, was the official “beer taster” for a two-man licensing squad in Brisbane’s early days.

This is the story he told to the “Brisbane Telegraph” today: “When I was a constable, another policeman, J. A. Bennett and I were given the job of catching hotels in the act of trading on Sundays.

“We had to prove that the customers were drinking beer and spirits, and not cough mixture. As Constable Bennett was a strict teetotaller, it was my job to do all the tasting.

“I had to sample every glass on the counter, and you can imagine what the mixture of whisky, gin, beer, &c., did to me. They used to carry me away on a stretcher after we had done a few hotels.

“In spite of that though, Constable Bennett and I obtained convictions for nearly every hotel in Brisbane.”

An unofficial tribute to the work of the two men was the “Bennett and Bee” bottle. These were large bottles specially manufactured so that families could take home enough beer for the weekend. They were introduced after Constables Bennett and Bee had successfully eliminated Sunday sly-grog sessions.

–  Brisbane Telegraph Saturday 28 April 1951.


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