Which weighs more, a ton of lead or a tun of feathers?  Sounds absurd today but in the 18th Century this is actually a legitimate question.  How many feathers can you pack in a 256-gallon cask?  A lot more than 2000 pounds!  In Colonial America, minding your “P’s and Q’s” isn’t about etiquette, its about measurement.

Brewers, especially in the 18th Century, use some pretty arcane measurements – particularly when talking about large volumes.  When you come to one of my events, I will talk about brewing quarter cask and firkin sized batches – much smaller than the typical brewer supplying a tavern or the army.  I will also demonstrate my mash tun which retains the name event though I have scaled it down from 256 gallons to less than 10.  We ship hogsheads of beer to the army, and Puncheaons to the navy and even though everything is made by a cooper, almost never us a barrel.  You even be may be offered a gil or two of whiskey or rum.  What do all these measurements mean?

Tun 256 Gallons
Gorda 185 Gallons
Pipe or Drum 172 Gallons
Puncheaon 132 Gallons
Butt 125 Gallons
Barrique 79 Gallons
Hogshead 64 Gallons
Barrel 32 Gallons
Kilderkin 22 Gallon
Quarter Cask 16 Gallons
Tub 11 Gallons
Runlets 10 Gallons
Firkin 8 Gallons
Pin 5 Gallons
Half Pin 2 ½ Gallons
Gallon 128 ounces
Quart 32 ounces
Pint 16 ounces
Cup 8 ounces
Gil 4 ounces
Ounce 29.57 ml

I hope this helps.


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Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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