Trading Whiskey for a Mercedes in the Underground Booze Economy of Australia

By Mike Pomranz |

© katalinks / Alamy Stock Photo

Trading beer for goods or services is nothing new, but typically it’s on the level of giving a buddy a sixer for helping you move your couch. Social media has made everyone more connected, however, and in Australia, at least, your “buddy” might just be one of thousands of people looking to barter for booze or more valuable items.

A number of Australian news outlets recently reported on the country’s booming “beer economy”—people looking to buy or sell things in exchange not for dollars, but for a certain number of brews, wine or liquor. One “secret” Facebook group—whose cover was blown by a reporter who called his story akin to “going against the rules of Fight Club”—now has at least 50,000 members, allowing people to make transactions like a pet carrier for a six-pack, a stroller for a couple of bottles of wine or even a car for 50 cases of Wild Turkey.

Perth Now, who also reported on the phenomenon, claims “multiple” such groups exist in their city alone and that “beer economy pages are gaining ground in Tasmania, Sydney and Melbourne” as well. But supposedly the west side of the country is where the trend is most prominent. “Booze is fast becoming a legitimate currency in Western Australia,” said Michael Madden, founder of one such marketplace.

Of course, dumping your old stroller for a couple of bottles of Shiraz sounds like a mother’s dream come true. But wouldn’t even the world’s largest lush have trouble figuring out what to do with hundreds of bottles of whiskey? Maybe there’s an even more secret Facebook group that the media hasn’t gotten wind of yet…

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