Worst Sydney Beer Shortage on Record


white horse hotel surry hills 1944

Crowded bar of the White Horse Hotel, Surry Hills — one of the few hotels in the city area with beer for sale yesterday.

THE beer shortage in Sydney yesterday was the most acute on record, the president of the United Licensed Victuallers’ Association (Mr. N. H. Connolly) said last, night.

Mr Connolly said less than 30 per cent, of metropolitan hotels were open. All hotels had received their full holiday quotas, and brewery production was probably greater than last December, he added. The shortage had been caused by an abnormal demand.

Reasons for which were:

  • Hot weather.
  • More spending money.
  • Public optimism on the war situation, and relaxation of the austerity mood.

Deliveries Today

Mr Connolly said that most hotels should get deliveries from the breweries today.

A Daily Telegraph survey of city hotels yesterday showed:

Hotel Manly: Bar open 11am to 1pm; closed to 2.30pm; police controlled 600 people, who crowded bars and jostled on footpath.

Manly Hotel 1949 anu

Manly Hotel, Manly, 1949. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University

Mayfair, King’s Cross: Served beer from 11am to 6pm. Staff said trade “extraordinary,” even for a holiday.


Lasted Half-hour

Paragon, Circular Quay: Beer sold out at 3.30. Of 19 other hotels visited, nine served customers for part of the day. The remainder had no beer.

At one hotel the beer lasted only half an hour. Two hotels had had no beer since Friday. Because they had run out of liquor, the majority of metropolitan hotels yesterday defied a National Security Regulation requiring them to remain open between 2 and 6pm.

Paragon Hotel Circular Quay 1949 anu

Paragon Hotel, Circular Quay, Sydney, 1949. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian national University


The White Horse Hotel, Crown Street, Surry Hills, sold 114 gallons of beer in an hour and 20 minutes yesterday morning.

The hotel was one of the few in the greater metropolitan area with beer on sale yesterday, but will have no more until Monday.

The licensee, Alderman Dan Minogue, of the City Council, said that when he opened the doors at 11am a waiting crowd of about 600 charged into the hotel. At 12.20pm, when his stock had been exhausted, he closed the bar.

The hotel’s bar-room, 15ft by 20ft, including counter-space, one of the smallest in Sydney, its two adjoining parlors, and two long corridors were crowded out.

An overflow of about 50 people drank on the pavement out side. Mr Lee Southen, of Baptist Street Redfern, arrived outside the hotel in a buggy. As Alderman Minogue’s most regular customer, he got four beers for himself and four for his horse, Mickey. Oldest customer was Mr “Snowy” Thompson, of Riley Street, Surry Hills, 89 yesterday.

– Sydney Daily Telegraph Tuesday 4 January 1944.

Categories: NSW hotels, Sydney hotels

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