BEER bowsers first made an appearance in the late 1940s and early 1950s when they became popular in another new innovation sweeping across pubs in Australia – beer gardens.
A beer bowser made an appearance in the beer garden of the Royal Hotel in the Newcastle suburb of Cardiff in 1951.
Royal Hotel head barman, American born James Stewart showed patrons to their beer garden seats, and, if they desired, attended to their requirements. But patrons were encouraged to collect their own drinks at the servery. They collected their drinks on trays, and from the time the trays left the servery till they were no longer required the glasses remained untouched by members of the hotel staff.
The Newcastle Morning Herald reported on January 6 1951 that the glasses were refilled at a beer bowser, which operated on much the same principle as a petrol pump.
“The customer places the tray of glasses for his party on the servery counter and an attendant fills them by holding the plastic nozzle of the bowser tube at the mouth of each glass in turn.”
Publican George Anderson explained the system: “Everyone gets the same glass back by remembering where they were placed on the tray,” he said.
Anderson reportedly picked up the idea in Chicago, where he saw it in operation as far back as 1935 in a night club. The club introduced a mobile freezing unit, with a beer bowser attachment. It was wheeled from table to table to custom order.
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