hist-brewing: weight bet (just a side issue)

hdavis at ix.netcom.com hdavis at ix.netcom.com
Fri Feb 13 18:37:48 PST 1998

On 02/13/98 12:59:54 you wrote:
>Well, no -- he's betting that they won't both weigh 256 pounds.  And they
>won't.  They'll weigh 3#8oz.

Or 25 pounds, or 28 pounds, or many other numbers including 256 pounds.

>This is quite an interesting discussion -- I'll be pleased to see where
>this recipe winds up.

To me the key point of weights and measures is that once we move away from 
the primary source, we are dealing with a translator's assessment of what 
the measure was and what it meant. In this case, Bryan has used some sources 
that indicate that a quarter was a volume measure. I have sources that 
indicate that it was both at different times and different places. But, for 
England of the 11th century, my dictionaries and primary sources indicate 
that it was a weight. I'm very interested in the references Bryan gave 
precisely because they are at odds with what I have for period sources. I 
ahve no doubt that the weights and measures Bryan used are reported in the 
references. The question is whether or not the dictioary gives a true and 
complete picture.

Weights and measures were not my primary interest, and still don't intrigue 
me that much - except as needed to understand the receipts that I have.

Scott Mills did some interesting math and selected one unit of measure as 
that which made sense. We could start with the GB definition of a quarter - 
8.26 bu which is an English Statute value. Or it could refer to 1/4 of a tun 
(252 gallons depending on whose tun you use). Each quarter would then be 1 
gallon short of 8 bu versus the ~2 gallons over for the statute quarter.

For this specific receipt the actual measurements may not matter since they 
are "in the ballpark" of each other when we consider modern brewing 
knowledge. The variance in actual extraction rates, varieties of grains, 
quality of malts etc probably introduces a wider spectum of possible 
historically "correct" outcomes than the uncertainty over measures.


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