A Yard of Ale – Something Even Prime Ministers Do!

As Troy and I were researching London’s best pubs we stumbled into the Hat and Tun, up by the Leather Lane markets. Behind the bar was a rather dusty yard of ale glass. We started to chat with the barman who was from Serbia and had no idea what it was.

What is a yard of ale?

Yard of Ale glass

Yeah - Good luck with that mate.

The history of a yard of ale is not all that clear, but it is thought to be a drinking game dating from 17th century England. Yard of ale glass hold about 2.5 pints (or 1.4 litres in new money!) and there is a bit of a technique required to down a whole glass.

The bulb at the bottom will normally result in the uninitiated drinker being splash in a deluge of beer once air reaches the bulb. However, by crafty spinning of the glass a vortex is created to deliver air to the bulb and inertia keeps the beer in the bulb and the flow down the shaft to your mouth can be controlled. Well that’s the philosophy behind it anyway!

It has also been known as a “Long Glass”, a “Cambridge Yard (Glass)” and an “Ell Glass”. It is associated by legend with stagecoach drivers, though was mainly used for drinking feats and special toasts.

Bob Hawke and a yard of Ale

A man destined for politics!


The fastest drinking of a yard of ale (1.42 litres) in the Guinness Book of Records is 5 seconds. Drinking a yard of ale requires a certain technique and You Tube has a few videos.

Ex-Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke held the record for the fastest drinking of a yard of ale.

As we wrote about in April 2011, of course the most famous man who drank a yard of ale is Australia’s own former Prime Minister Bob Hawke. He was also famous for his quote after Australia won the Americas Cup for say calling any boss who sacks an employee for not turning up in the morning as a ‘bum’.

Even today he still has a fair go, as shown by this video of Bob Hawke skulling a beer at the Sydney Cricket Ground in early 2012.

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