There is no single way to order beer in Australia, though "beer, mate" will get you started at just about any pub. With an American accent, this request will invariably land you a glass of Foster's.
But to impress your hosts, and to actually be served what you're after, here's a primer of drinking terms, with regional variations. EASTERN STATES: In New South Wales, tap beer is typically served in a 10-ounce "middie" or a 15-ounce "schooner." If you prefer a bottle, the colloquial phrase is "stubbie." Cans are called "tinnies." Beer typically comes in two types: "new" (lager) and "old" (dark). Hence, "middie of Tooth's old, ta," will earn you a medium-sized glass of a popular, brown-colored beer (ta is short for thank you).
In the states of Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland, a middie becomes a "pot" and a schooner sometimes becomes a "birthday pot." You also may hear someone order a five-ounce glass called a "pony." Also, Queenslanders are addicted to a brand called Castlemaine XXXX, or Fourex. In the state's outback, Fourex invariably arrives in a can or bottle, squeezed inside a styrofoam cooler. SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Here, a seven-ounce glass is sometimes called "a butcher." South Australia also is home to a trendy brand called Cooper's, which is about twice as strong as American beer. NORTHERN TERRITORY:Berlitz could write about drinking in the Northern Territory. The most common phrase for a beer is "a handle," but other terms include "a snort," "a charge," "a tube," "a kicker over" or just "a can." And the brand is usually denoted by the color of the can, not the name. Hence, a Foster's is a "blue can" or a "snort of blue," and so on through the spectrum. The one irregular nickname is the Queenslander's favorite, Fourex, a beer held in great contempt in the Territory. Instead of being called a yellow can, it is referred to as "barbed wire" because the label is decorated with an "XXXX." Then, of course, there's the "Darwin stubbie," a half-gallon snort that comes in bottles the size of missile casings. WESTERN AUSTRALIA:In the far western state, a four-ounce glass is called a "shetland pony," a seven-ounce glass simply "a glass." Choosing a brand out west is easy; usually the only choice is between Swan and Emu, both owned by Perth brewmaster and America's Cup competitor Alan Bond.
One final phrase is crucial to surviving an Australian pub crawl. If a mate wants to "shout" you a beer, that means he wants to buy you one, not yell about it. But be warned: If someone shouts you a beer, you're expected to shout one back. And if you're with a group of people, everyone must shout a round before the drinking's done.