Here are some helpful hints when ordering a beer in Sydney. Whether you are a seasoned Australian drinker, a visiting tourist or a younger craft beer drinker, it is a good idea to become familiar with the range of beer measures now available.
In Sydney, and indeed in the rest of New South Wales, the principal measures of beer are the middy (285 mls or half an English pint), or for a larger measure, the schooner (425 mls). These are a tradition in New South Wales, and are accepted and well understood by locals.
Many craft beers are now served in measures of a half pint or a pint (these are English or Imperial pint measures).
So, a half pint is the same as a middy, which is 285 mls.
A pint is, of course, twice this, or 570 mls (568.3 mls to be absolutely precise). Leaving the schooner exactly half way between the middy (half pint) and the pint, making it pretty close to 425 mls or ¾ of a pint. .
Here is a diagram to summarise :
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Now here’s the tricky bit. If you are from the United States, a US pint is 473 mls.
Not the same as an English pint, which is bigger at 570 mls. So it’s best to forget the US pint if you are visiting Sydney.
Oh, and if you go to one of the fabulous German Bierkellers in Sydney, such as the Lowenbrau Bierkeller in the Rocks area, the beer is sold in…you guessed it…half litres and litres, (500 mls and 1000 mls respectively).
When ordering in a pub new to you, the best advice is to proceed to the bar, and say “I would like a (name of designated beer), please” and then simply nod as a reply to any questions such as “D’ywanna middy or a schooner”, “Is that a pint, sir” or “You vish a half litre or a litre, bitte?” You will generally end up with a beer of some acceptable quantity. After consumption of a sufficient amount, the weights and measures calculation will become relatively unimportant, which was probably the idea in the first place.
Most pub and off the shelf beers in Australia are sold in a 330 ml bottle, but there are also bottles and cans of 375 mls. The new standard for larger bottles is 500 mls, or almost one English pint.
There’s also the revived container called the growler, which is a refillable 1.8 to 2 litre container. Perfect for taking craft beers home or to a party.
And please don’t talk to me about the schmiddy. Whatever that is.