hist-brewing: Historical "non-sanitization"--any experience?

bjm10 at cornell.edu bjm10 at cornell.edu
Fri May 7 07:45:08 PDT 1999

On Fri, 7 May 1999, Wade Hutchison wrote:

> hogshead sizes to homebrewing sizes, I always use 62 gallons, as
> current US gallons are very close to 16th century (ale or beer)

Depends on what sources you consult on this matter.  The wine gallon (the 
US gallon) was not universally adopted for ale and beer in the 16th 

If I may quote myself:

"The barrel in question was probably a beer barrel, which was 36 gallons,
as opposed to the ale barrel of 30 gallons (Zupko 1968). But this is also
deceptive. How much was a gallon? While some folks that I consulted
claimed that the Renaissance beer gallon was identical to the wine gallon,
231 cubic inches or 1 US gallon, scholarly publications claim that
Elizabeth standardized the beer gallon to equal an ale gallon of 282 cubic
inches (Zupko 1968, 1977). For me, the clincher came from consulting a
German-language source that covered the 13th to 19th centuries in northern
Germany. A 15th-16th century barrel for "Bier" was given a volume of "36
Englische Galonen". It was also listed as having a volume of 166.356
liters (Witthoeft). Simple calculation led to a gallon of 281.9 cubic

I'm not quite claiming that ALL beer and ale was measured in such gallons,
but that there is at least enough evidence to say that the modern US
gallon was not the only measure used for beer and ale in the 16th century. 

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