The shout is very much a tradition when it comes to drinking beer in Australia.
Any time there’s two or more people grouped together drinking beer, you can be sure there’s some sort of shout going on. In case there’s some international readers not sure how the shout works, it’s pretty simple.
In a group of people drinking, everyone takes turns buying a round for the whole group. So if there are five people in the group, then when your turn to shout comes, you have to buy five beers. Of course, once the shout does its full cycle everything balances out – everyone has bought and drunk five beers.
Now some dropkicks will probably label me as unAustralian for saying this, but I’ve always hated the shout. At the worst end there’s the person who buys something cheap when they’re paying but, when it’s your shout, they suddenly ask for something more expensive (even though the unwritten rule of the shout is that you can’t switch from one beverage to another – eg from beer to spirits).
But the real reason I’ve never liked it is it takes away my ability to pace myself, to monitor my intake. Maybe I’m the slowest drinker in the shout, then the beers start backing up – and getting warm. so I subconsciously drink faster to try and catch up. And then I end up getting drunk before I realise it (you know how that is -drink too much too fast and it feels like you got drunk all of a sudden).
It also forces you to stay longer than you might have otherwise planned, because you have to hang around to get your shout in. The idea of stepping out of a shout while it’s under way is frowned upon by those who have already shouted because they resent spending more than those yet to shout.
In the craft beer world, where people are more likely to drink a different beer with each round, you can also end up being stuck with a beer you don’t like – and knew you wouldn’t like.
I’ve reached a crossroads here due to several recent incidents, one of which saw me drinking with someone more than 10 years younger and obviously more robust than me. I was so relieved that we weren’t in a shout because I would have wrecked myself trying to keep pace. There was also another incident in Melbourne where someone shouted me a high alcohol beer – which was way, way, way more alcohol than I wanted at the time.
So I’ve decided that I’ve had enough of the shout. I’m not going to instigate one, and I’m not going to accept one should someone try to start one. If I’m drinking with someone else and they offer to buy me a beer, I’ll say, ‘‘thanks, but I’ll get my own’’. It might be seen as being a bit rude, a bit standoff-ish, but so be it.
It sure beats driving the porcelain bus when I get home and waking up with a hangover the next morning.