Alcohol in Australia vs. America

This morning I came across an article that stated that 3 of the drunkest cities in the United States are in Northeast Wisconsin, with my hometown of Appleton reigning supreme at number 1. The article also mentioned that Wisconsin claimed 7 of the top 10 spots in the report. Although it made for interesting reading, this is not something I’m necessarily proud of. The statistic suggesting that 47.5% of driving deaths in Green Bay involve alcohol is particularly alarming and just plain sad. This article got me thinking about the differences that revolve around alcohol in Australia verses America. Here’s what I came up with:

  1.  Prices

    It’s stupidly expensive to drink here. I don’t care to elaborate; it will just annoy me. 

  2. Beer tastes better in Australia

    American beer, often confused with water, just doesn’t measure up. However, I do miss my Leinenkugel’s, Stone Arch, and New Glaurus. 

  3. Happy Hour doesn’t exist

    Related to Number 1. No BOGO, no Buck Nights, no Tall Boy Tuesdays, and no drinking games. Bars simply aren’t allowed to offer extreme discounts. 

  4.  Limits on drinking

    They’re harsher than in the States. The Wisconsin .08 BAC is higher than the .05 allowed in Aus. Also, fines are extremely heavy for serving overly intoxicated people or underagers. 

  5. You can’t purchase alcohol in the pharmacy or grocery store

    You have to go to a separate store called the “bottle shop” AKA liquor store. Most are rather small and do not include bottom shelf liquor, so expect to pay a pretty penny for your Captain Morgan or drink of choice. Oh, and I have yet to find Fosters in a bottle shop.

  6. Public holidays

    Bottle shops and pubs are completely shut down on both Christmas and Good Friday. Or at least that’s how it was in Rockhampton on Good Friday when I called about 7 establishments only to hear recorded voices informing me that my hopes of purchasing a harmless carton, were in fact, crushed. That was a dark day in the Sunshine State. Also, I’m pretty sure that Christmas is one of the busiest days in bars across the US, or at least in Wisconsin. 

  7. Cartons

    It’s their version of a “dirty thirty” however you’re lucky to actually get 30 in there. Most times I find that it’s 24 stubbies/cans per carton. They are a awesome, but they cost upwards of $45 AUD. 

  8. Courtesy shuttles

    By far one of the biggest edges Australia has on America when considering drinking culture. These shuttles/vans/buses are driven by pub employees who pick you up and drop you off at your desired destination for FREE. It ensures everyone gets home safe, and Wisconsin would undoubtedly benefit from such services. 

  9. Dancing

    It happens… but not like in the US. Grinding – not really a thing. Girls dancing on each other like idiots – not really a thing either. Maybe it’s because the clubs are open til 5am and American dancing for that long would just ware a person out.

  10. Tipping

    Because I’ve been on both sides of the bar I found not tipping a little strange, and almost rude, when I first arrived. However, now it seems normal given that bartenders make $20/hour on average. 

  11. Schooners & Pots

    These terms mean different things depending on which state you’re in, but basically they signify various sizes of glasses of beer – small (285 ml) or large (425 ml). I now understand what the terms mean in Queensland, but what I can’t understand is why anyone wouldn’t order a full glass of beer?? Somewhat related, but not really… aussies seem to have a strange fascination with red solo cups. I’ve gotten asked three times now if we, “really use those red cups at parties?”

  12. Premixed drinks

    In Australia, almost any mix drink or spirit that you want, you can find already premixed in a can or bottle. At first I thought it was kind of weird to see cans of jack and coke already mixed, however it is actually quite convinient. It avoids the hassle of having to supply cups and ice, plus they’re harder to spill!

  13. “Eskies” are coolers, and “stubbie holders” are koozies. 

  14. Dress Codes 

    They are a thing. I was refused to a night club in Rockhampton because I had flip flops on. Keep in mind, this was Rocky, the “Beef Capital of Australia,” not the clubbing capital. 

  15. Goon

    It’s a lifestyle. Or at least that’s what the numerous backpackers I’ve met have made it sound like. Although I have not experienced it personally, this Buzzfeed article illustrates what the goon life might be like. 

2 bonus facts I learned on my tour of the XXXX Brewery:
  • Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke holds the world record for skulling (chugging) a beer.
  • Vegimite is actually made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract. Maybe I will grow to like it after all.

Considering these differences, you could say I’ve had to make some adjustments to assimilate myself to Australian drinking culture. There’s also been a few times that I’ve been the butt of the joke, for example the time I called XXXX “quadruple ex” instead of “fourex.”

But despite their differences, both nations are similar in that drinking is associated with sport, celebration, and everyday life. It brings together old friends, new friends, and family, and it helps us have some of the best times we’ll never remember.

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