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A long tom is a long pole with a paintbrush on the end, for painting otherwise inaccessible places on board a ship.

Sometime during the early 1990's South African Breweries sold Castle Lager in 450ml cans with a picture of a Boer War siege cannon on the side. This cannon was one of four that the Transvaal Republic bought in 1897 to defend the city of Pretoria. During the Boer War, British forces called these cannon Long Toms. These impressive 6.25 inch French made weapons weighed 2500kg and were drawn by a span of 16 oxen. They could fire a 90 pound (40.6kg) shell over 9km.

Ever since these cans were issued (long before I started drinking beer) the 450ml can of South African Breweries beer has been known as a Long Tom. Only South African Breweries's mainstream brands Castle Lager and Black Label are sold in large cans. Their premium brand, Amstel Lager, is only sold in the standard 340ml can.

SAB seem to be replacing the 450ml large can with a 500ml (half a litre!) can. This move seems to blur the line between the respectable can of beer and the slightly disreputable 750ml Quart bottle. Myself, I have never had a problem being seen in public with a quart, but I am a student.

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