The birth of the 10-ounce middy and pot glass in NSW and Qld

middy nsw 1941
Bonnie Reece in a Sydney city hotel with the new “middy” February 1941. Picture: Daily Telegraph.


IN Sydney it’s called a middy, while in Melbourne or Brisbane, a 10 ounce glass of beer is dubbed a pot.

The 10 ounce glass has been a popular beer vessel in Australian pubs for over a century, although the means in which it’s been ordered over the bar has varied from state to state.

The middy or pot first formerly appeared in Australian pubs in February 1941.

Prior to 1941 drinkers could enjoy their beer in various size receptacles, ranging from four through to 12 ounce glasses, right up to a pint.

Queenslanders have been drinking their beloved 10 ounce ‘pot’ of beer in its current form for 80 years. But the ‘pot’ as Queenslanders know it, wasn’t always 10 ounce.

Prior to 1941 the pot held 12 ounces of beer and was sold at six pence. That same year the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner sanctioned a new size beer glass.

The new measure would appease disgruntled customers who would not mind having two ounces less in their pot after a beer price rise. The inconvenience of an extra penny had cause for many to grumble at an increase to seven pence a pot.

The 10 ounce pot was introduced to meet the demand of the price rise. Pots that contained 12 ounces were sold at seven pence, while the new 10 ounce pot was sold at six pence.

The new 10 ounce glass first made its appearance in Queensland pubs on Saturday February 15 1941, and over the following years the 12 ounce pot gradually disappeared from bars.

qld pots 1941
The new Queensland 10-ounce pot, compared to the 12-ounce pot. Cleverly, the new glass was slightly higher and narrower, giving the impression of a larger beer vessel.

A leading Queensland hotelkeeper in 1941 reported that some men who normally enjoyed one drink at seven pence a pot, was now having two 10 ounce pots instead.

In most Australian states, with the exception of NSW, the term ‘pot’ seems to have been used for all size glasses, up until the 1940s.

Victoria in 1940 had a 5-ounce glass of beer for 3-pence, a 10-ounce glass for 5-pence, and a 12-ounce glass for 6-pence – all known as ‘pots’.

By the end of the 1940s though, Victorians, when ordering a pot of beer, would be served an 11-ounce glass of beer, and pay 6-pence for the pleasure.

Over in Western Australia during the 1940s, you would receive a 10-ounce glass of beer when ordering a pot. That has now changed, and a 10-ounce glass of beer in Perth today is generally known as a middy.

South Australia has the most confusing names for beer glasses. A 10-ounce glass of beer is labelled as a schooner. The name originated in the mid 1930s, and has stuck to the present day.

In NSW a 10-ounce glass is known as a middy.

The 10-ounce middy glass, priced at 6-pence, was introduced into NSW pubs in February 1941.

The history of the middy glass in NSW is similar to that of Queensland.

The glass was introduced to appease disgruntled drinkers who were upset with the rise in beer prices. The United Liquor Victuallers’ Association (the forerunner of today’s Australian Hotels’ Association) planned a reduction in the size of the 17-ounce schooner glass, and an increase in price. Drinkers (and unions, which black banned many pubs), understandably were not happy.

To ease the growing backlash, the ULVA introduced the 10-ounce middy glass at 6-pence, and a 12-ounce ‘half schooner’ at 7-pence. A 17-ounce schooner would set you back 9-pence in 1941.

The new middy proved an immediate success, and the 12-ounce half schooner, which didn’t quite catch-on, was gradually phased out in NSW pubs.

Tasmania is probably the most sensible of all our states and territories. In that state all glasses of beer are ordered by their size – a 10-ounce glass is simply that – a ‘10’.

For more on Australian beer glasses, see the Time Gents’ story: Evolution of the Australian beer glass

© Copyright Mick Roberts 2018

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Categories: Australian Hotels, beer glasses

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3 replies

  1. A most interesting article. However very little mention is made of the significance of the ULVA badging on the glasses even tough an image is shown with ULVA badged glasses.Mention of the issue of overcharging is referred to in No Bar to Time in relation to a hotel in The Junction in Newcastle. Also there is a double page devoted to ULVA badged glasses.

  2. I believe that in some parts of England the “half” (10 oz) is called a middy.

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