The Darwin Stubby, available only in the Northern Territory, was introduced by Carlton & United in April 1958 with an 80 fluid ounce (2,270 ml) capacity. Its aims were to minimise the high handling costs associated with bottling and to cater to big Territory thirsts. There are legends about a beer-drinking Brahman bull named Norman, who supposedly was a regular Darwin Stubby drinker at the Humpty Doo hotel. Norman reputedly once sculled a 2.25 litre stubby in 47 seconds.
The first brewery in Darwin was established in 1956 by Carlton & United Breweries. The Darwin brewery produced Carlton Draught, which was available on tap at local pubs. However, the brewery had no bottling plant, so bottled beer had to be shipped from Melbourne. This led to the introduction of NT Draught, in the 80 fl oz bottle, which, with typical Aussie irony, became known as the Darwin Stubby. (A “stubby”, for those unfamiliar with Australian beer packaging, is a squat, 375ml bottle as opposed to a “long neck” which is 750ml.)
When the Darwin brewery closed in 1989 NT Draught continued to be brewed from the company’s Melbourne brewery. Production moved to Darwin in 1996 when CUB acquired another brewery and began producing Victoria Bitter, Carlton Light and NT Draught. But because of rising costs and lower demand, CUB announced in May 2015 that they would no longer be producing NT Draught on a regular basis.
The announcement distressed many Territorians. In Alice Springs, residents held a wake for the Darwin Stubby, where the last bottles were consumed with a slow cooked leg of central Australian camel. The bottle was a tourist attraction in its own right. The NT News reported that “Territorians have been left reeling by the imminent loss of the two-litre longneck, gone too soon at the age of 57.”
The Darwin Stubby may not be gone forever though. CUB may still produce special runs of NT Draught as a heritage beer.