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?
|Pipe or Drum||172 Gallons|
|Quarter Cask||16 Gallons|
|Half Pin||2 ½ Gallons|
I hope this helps.
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