March and Ordinary Beers

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Full Recipe Name
March and Ordinary Beers
Recipe Source
Gervase Markham, *The English Housewife*
Magnús hvalmagi
Panel Information
Panel Location: Pennsic
Panel Date: 2012
Score: March: 74, Ordinary: 77
Beverage Information
Period: Renaissance
Division: Division 1: Ales, Beer, Braggot, Lambic, Stout
Origin: English

Introduction and Retrosepctive

This is the first project I submitted for paneling to the EKBG; these are two entries derived from a single process, captured in one (13 page) piece of documentation. I present it here as an example of what I used to do, and not what I believe is the current best approach to paneling or documentation. It's wordy, arrogant, and presumptuous. Don't be like Past Magnus!

But the research is still pretty good, so maybe be a little bit like Past Magnus.

What the Heck is “March Beer?”

In period, fermented barley-based beverages fell largely into two categories: ales and beers. The primary difference between the two lies in the addition of hops: ale went unhopped (though it could be flavored with spices, called “gruit”), while beer was boiled with hops.

“March” beer is a specific type, attested to by several sources. William Harrison - who, in 1577, collaborated with Raphael Holinshed to write a description of Britain and England - describes the beer thusly [Harrison pg. 94]:

The beer that is used at noblemen’s tables in their fixed and standing houses is commonly a year old, or peradventure of two years’ tunning or more; but this is not general. It is also brewed in March, and therefore called March beer; but, for the household, it is usually not under a month’s age, each one coveting to have the same stale as he may, so that it be not sour, and his bread new as is possible, so that it be not hot.

The following technique is adapted from one originating in the tail end of the 1500’s, during the Elizabethan era, in the area of London.

The Original Technique: Gervase Markham’s March Beer

Gervase Markham - an English writer who is best known for publishing a treatise on the virtues an English housewife should have, and the skills she should know - gives us a technique for brewing such a beer [Markham pg. 206-7]:

Now for the brewing of the best March beer you shall allow to a hogshead thereof a quarter of the best malt well ground: then you shall take a peck of pease, half a peck of wheat, and half a peck of oats and grind them all very well together, and then mix them with your malt: which done, you shall in all points brew this beer as you did the former ordinary beer; only you shall allow a pound and a half of hops to this one hogshead: and whereas before you drew but two sorts of beer, so now you shall draw three; that is a hogshead of the best, and a hogshead of the second, and half a hogshead of small beer without any augmentation of hops or malt.

Markham says “brew this beer as you did the former ordinary beer;” this is the technique for brewing that “ordinary beer:” [Markham pg. 205-6]

Now for the brewing of ordinary beer, your malt being well ground and put in your mash vat, and your liquor in your lead ready to boil, you shall then by little and little with scoops or pails put the boiling liquor to the malt, and then stir it even to the bottom exceedingly well together. . . and so let it stand an hour and more in the mash vat. . .
This done. . . let the first liquor run gently from the malt, either in a clean trough or other vessels prepared for the purpose, and then stopping the mash vat again, put the second liquor to the malt and stir it well together; then your lead being emptied put your first liquor or wort therein, and then to every quarter of malt put a pound and a half of the best hops you can get, and boil them an hour together. . . then let your wort drop or run gently into the dish with the barm which stands in the gyle vat; and. . . tun it up into the hogsheads being clean washed and scalded. . . and only for a day or two after keep a vent-hole in it, and after close it up as close as may be.

My interpretation of this process is as follows:

1. Specialty grains and other fermentables (“pease” refers to conventional green peas [OED]) are ground and mixed with a quarter of malt.

2. Water (referred to as “liquor”) is made “ready to boil” and then poured upon the grist gently (“little by little with scoops and pails”).

3. The grains and hot water are allowed to sit for an hour or more, in a process called “mashing.”

4. The first liquor is allowed to run from the malt (this is called the “first running” in modern brewing), into a holding vessel. Additional water is heated in the “lead,” or cauldron.

5. A second and third liquor are prepared in the same way as the first. The third liquor should be about half the volume of the first or second (“a hogshead of the best, a hogshead of the second, and half a hogshead of the third”). These liquors are similarly run off (“second” and “third” runnings) and held for boiling.

6. The first running is boiled with hops for an hour.

7. The boiled first runnings (now called “wort”), is allowed to cool, and then mixed with yeast (“barm”) in a fermentation vessel (“gyle vat”).

8. After mixing with the yeast, the wort is tunned up in wooden vessels and allowed to ferment.

9. The remaining runnings are also boiled and tunned as the first, keeping all three runnings separate.

This process results in multiple beers, the first one of which (the strongest) is called “March beer.”

In order to make an attempt at re-creating this beer, we must investigate some particular details of its production, especially the proportion of water to malt that is used during the mash. This will dictate many properties of the beer so produced, including its malt character, hop utilization, alcohol content, and color. What follows is my investigation of this recipe, the specifics there discovered, and redactions that I have made.

My Adaptation of the Original Technique

The first step in discovering this process is to figure out the amount of malt that Markham used, and the amount of water necessary to yield the final desired volume of beer.

A full explanation of my investigation into these matters may be found in Appendix A and Appendix B - one for the bushel and one for the hogshead. I have done this for the sake of brevity and so as not to bore the reader.

My investigations lead to two crucial conclusions:

1. A quarter of malt weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 pounds. However, in period, grain measurements were done volumetrically, not by weight. Weight is noted simply as additional information; the grains were measured by their specific volume. It’s worth noting that the weight of a volume of malt can vary based on the moisture content of the grain and ambient humidity, so the 300 pound value is simply a guideline.

The other fermentables Markham used would have added another ~26 pounds total: ~9.5 pounds of peas, ~8.5 pounds of wheat, and ~8 pounds of oats.

A “quarter” is defined as 8 bushels [Tractatus]. After research and experimentation, I determined that one bushel of malt weighs 38.1 pounds, assuming a specific average density of malt. See Appendix A.

2. A hogshead of beer could hold up to 62 gallons; however, Markham does not tun his hogsheads completely, and so they probably held ~50 gallons of beer. See Appendix B for the math behind the 62 gallon hogshead.

Markham advocates filling the first two hogsheads less than full, to prevent a blowout. In modern brewing practices, a 20% headspace is usually considered sufficient for these purposes. Lacking any other clear directions about how much space to leave, this is what I will assume for my technique.

Markham’s technique produces 2 “full” hogsheads and one half hogshead. It would be unnecessary to leave additional headspace in the half hogshead, as it already has ample headspace. Thus, 2 62 gallon hogsheads which are ~80% full would equal a volume of ~100 gallons. The additional half hogshead would be ~31 gallons.

So, I conclude that Markham’s technique produces ~130 gallons of beer: 50 of the best, 50 of the middle, and ~30 of small beer, and does so using ~300 pounds of malt and ~20 pounds of other fermentables.

He also notes the use of a pound and a half of hops (24 ounces) to the first liquor, and then the re-use of those hops for the second and third liquors.

Redactions to the Technique

In order to produce this beer, I had to make several decisions about and changes to the technique. Overall, while the changes made will keep the beer from being a true reproduction, I believe the beer is a reasonable representation of a beer that would have existed in period.

Throughout the redactions, the reader will note that many decisions have been centered around London. Most of Markham’s writings focused on the London area, and most of his writings were published in London. Thus, I infer that Markham was writing primarily about techniques in and around the London area.

1. The recipe was reduced by a factor of 20. Instead of 130 gallons, I aimed to produce 6.5 gallons. I did this because 130 gallons is a lot of beer, and I lack the facilities to produce that much. That means I should get 2.5 gallons of the first, 2.5 gallons of the middle, and 1.5 gallons of the third, roughly speaking.

2. In reducing the recipe by a factor of 20, I also scaled back the size of the measurements of grains accordingly. Thus, if the recipe calls for 8 bushels of malt at 2124 cubic inches apiece, I instead went with 1/20 that amount, or 849.6 cubic inches of malt. All measurements of grains were taken by volume, not weight. Weight figures are provided for reference.

This volume is equal to 3.6875 modern gallons, or more readily accesible, 14.75 modern quarts of malt.

I also scaled back the measurements of the peas, wheat, and oats. A bushel contains 4 pecks, so a peck of peas should contain 531 cubic inches. Reduced by 20, that becomes 26.55 cubic inches, approximately 2 modern cups. The “half peck” grains - wheat and oats - are then 1 cup apiece.

So, 14.75 quarts of malt, 2 cups of peas, 1 cup of wheat, and 1 cup of oats.

3. The malted barley used was Maris Otter pale malt, from Thomas Fawcett and Sons, Ltd. While this is not a truly period malt, it is one of the only commercially-available malts which is still floor-malted by hand [Fawcett]. I feel that this grain is probably the closest modern equivalent to period malt, based on Markham’s writings about malting technique.

Markham did not specify the type of peas to be used, nor their preparation. However, because they are to be ground with other grains, I assumed that the peas would be dried. I also assumed they would be shelled. As such, I used modern Goya brand green split peas.

Both the wheat and oats were obtained in unmalted, whole grain form.

4. The hops used are pelletized East Kent Golding hops. This specific variety is a traditional English landrace style, and is probably the closest modern equivalent to a period English hop currently available. Pelletized hops did not exist in-period as far as we know, but I chose to use them because the whole-leaf hop options I had available would have been more inappropriate.

5. I did two runnings, not three. The first running is precisely as Markham directs, and this would make the March beer. I elected to combine the second and third runnings, because the third running on its own would have been an extremely weak beer that would not have been worth my effort. I elected to have a larger volume of a more middle-of-the-road beer, rather than some stronger beer and some watery crap beer.

6. Additionally, I chose to use more hops (1.5 ounces for the first and 1.5 ounces for the second), and to use fresh hops for each boil. I did this because I really like hops, because I feel the second beer would be better balanced with a stronger hop character, and because the beer will keep better with more hops.

7. I added brewing salts to my brewing water. Harrison notes that good brewers concern themselves with the water used for their brewing, and further expounds on the best waters for brewing [Harrison pg. 102 - 103]. As this is an approximation of a London beer, I added brewing salts to purified water, sufficient to re-create the London water profile as given by John Palmer, a modern homebrewing author widely regarded as an expert in his field [Palmer chapter 15].

8. I used commerically-available “smack packs” of yeast, pitched into a starter wort and collected after they’ve had time to grow; specifically, I used Wyeast 1968 London ESB Ale yeast . Markham indicates that the beer is to be mixed with “barm,” which is an old term for what we now call “krausen,” the foam layer on top of fermenting beer that contains yeast. By mixing his wort with harvested barm, Markham is effectively advocating pitching harvested yeast into the beer, much as we do with modern yeasts.

Additionally, he specifically indicates that the barm is mixed with a small amount of wort and allowed to “rise.” This is essentially the same as pitching yeast into starter wort.

It should be noted that the Wyeast 1968 is a cask ale strain that is used by the oldest brewery still operating in London, the Fuller’s brewery. There has been a brewery operating there continuously since the mid-1600’s [Fuller’s], so this yeast is probably the closest to period for any commercially-available yeast.

9. I used a wide variety of modern equipment, including a commercial sanitizer. My mashing tun is made from an Igloo cooler converted to have a ball-valve and strainer; my kettles are readily-available stainless steel stockpots; my furnace is a conventional household natural gas range; and my fermentation vessels are made of plastic. I did so because this equipment is what is most readily available to the modern brewer. In-period, the kettle would have been lead (as attested to by Markham), and the various vessels would be made of wood. Lead is not a food-contact material and is dangerous to use for boiling liquids for human consumption, and wooden vessels are usually prohibitively expensive.

Additionally, I used StarSan to sanitize every surface that the boiled wort would contact. Markham makes mention of hot water sanitation, but this is impractical when using plastic. Thorough sanitation is crucial to producing a quality product, and to ensure the safety of the final product.

10. I left the beer in the fermentation vessel for a full three weeks before transferring it. This ensures a very clean fermentation, and also allows time for the yeast to settle out.

11. I bottled my beer in modern glass bottles and primed them using a cane sugar solution in water. The bottling makes it easier to transport and share the beer, while the sugar solution gives the beer the slight carbonation it would have had I moved it to a secondary vessel after a few days, as Markham writes. The carbonation level was kept low, in keeping with traditional English styles of beer.

It should be noted that while the use of cane sugar specifically cannot be documented, there are examples in-period of bottled ales and beers with added sugar to promote carbonation. Sir Kenelm Dibby - an Anglo-Norman knight whose recipes for various alcohols and foods were published posthumously by his son - gives a recipe for bottled ale which includes the addition of raisins to every bottle [Digby pg. 100]. Raisins have a high sugar content, and their specific sugar profile is close to that of cane sugar (sucrose). Thus, both bottling of ales and beers and the use of sugars for carbonation are supported.

I elected to use a solution of sugar, as opposed to entire raisins, for two reasons. First, a solution of sugar and water can be boiled on the stove top, which very effectively sanitizes the solution. Secondly, as I had 2.5 gallons of beer to bottle, it is much more manageable to mix a sugar solution into the beer and then bottle, as opposed to adding 12 raisins to each of 25 bottles. The solution also requires far less manipulation of bottles, which in turn reduces the chances of contamination.

12. While Markham does not tell us how much water to use for each liquor, I felt it pertinent to note that I calculated the volumes of water I would need based on my own equipment and its losses, so that I would have the correct final volume of beer.

13. I did not bring the initial water to a full boil; rather, I heated it to the strike temperature that I calculated based on my equipment and the weight of my grain. A full boil would have resulted in a mash temperature of ~175 F, which will completely denature the enzymes needed to convert the grain.

Putting it All Together: My Process Summarized

Grains and Hops:
14.75 quarts (~16lb 3 oz) Maris-Otter pale malt, ground
2 cups (~14.5 oz) green split peas, Goya brand
1 (~6.5 oz) cup unmalted wheat
1 (~6.5 oz) cup unmalted oats
3 oz. whole East Kent Golding hops

Water and Yeast:
11 gallons Adirondack brand purified drinking water
Brewing salts (per 6 gallons of water): 2.5g chalk (added to mash), 1 g gypsum, 3 g epsom, 1.5 g baking soda, 3 g kosher salt
2 Smack-Packs, Wyeast 1968 London ESB Ale yeast

1. Heat 5.75 gallons of water to 174 F; add salts except for chalk.
2. Place the malt and 2.5 g chalk into the mash tun.
3. Using a 1 gallon pail, gently pour the hot liquor on top of the malt. Stir to combine thoroughly.
4. Mash for one hour; the temperature should be 155 - 156 F.
5. Attach the drain hose to the tun, and drain the liquor into the kettle (7.5 gallon capacity).
6. Bring the liquor to a boil, add 1.5 oz of hops, and boil for one hour.
7. During this time, heat the remaining ~5.25 gallons of water to ~180 F; add salts again.
8. Pour the heated water on top of the wet grain with another 2.5 g of chalk. Mix thoroughly and mash again for one hour.
9. When the second mash is complete, drain it into two separate kettles (5 gallon capacity each).
10. Bring the second liquor(s) to a boil, add the remaining 1.5 oz of hops (half to each kettle), and boil for an hour.
11. By this time, the first boil should be complete. Place the pot in an icewater bath to chill quickly
12. When the first wort has reached ~85 F, transfer it to a sanitized fermentation vessel.
13. Once the second liquor(s) have finished boiling, plunge those pots into an icewater bath as well.
14. When the second liquor(s) have cooled to ~85 F, combine both into the same sanitized fermentation vessel.
15. Pitch one satchet of yeast into each fermentation vessel.
16. After 3 weeks, rack each beer separately to the bottling bucket. Add sugar solution and bottle separately.
17. Allow to carbonate for 3 weeks.

This process results in two different beers; (ideally) 2.5 gallons of the first running, and 4 gallons of the second running. Note that the second running was boiled in two batches; this is because I lacked a single vessel large enough for the full boil volume (~6 gallons). The two batches were later recombined in the fermenter.

While I predicted 2.5 gallons of the first running, I actually wound up with far less - approximately 1.6 gallons. I believe I undershot my volume because of wort retention by the grains, and an over-zealous boil. As it turns out, I still extracted nearly all the sugar I expected - it’s just in a smaller volume of wort, which means it makes a much stronger beer.

The second running yielded 4 gallons as expected.

The stats of the final beers

First Beer: “March beer”
OG: 1.115
FG: 1.034
Color: ~10 SRM (copper)
IBU: ~30
ABV: 11.2%
Approximate modern equivalent BJCP style: Barleywine

Second Beer:
OG: 1.045
FG: 1.008
Color: ~4 - 5 SRM (yellow and cloudy)
IBU: ~25
ABV: 4.6%
Approximate modern equivalent BJCP style: Belgian whitbier

Appendix A: On the Quarter of Malt

*note: The weights given below are based on a batch brewed in March of 2011. The specific weight of grain varies batch to batch depending on moisture content and grain density. The main documentation will contain those specifics.

A “quarter” was defined in the Tractatus de Ponderibus et Mensuris [Tractatus]:

By Consent of the whole Realm the King’s Measure was made, so that an English Penny, which is called the Sterling, round without clipping, shall weigh Thirty-two Grains of Wheat dry in the midst of the Ear; Twenty-pence make an Ounce; and Twelve Ounces make a Pound and Eight Pounds make a Gallon of Wine; and Eight Gallons of Wine make a Bushel of London; which is the Eighth Part of a Quarter.

In other words, eight bushels makes a quarter.

This was confirmed by Henry VII in 1495 [11 Henry VII]:

Be it also enacted that ther be but only viij busshelles rased and stricken to the quarter of Corne

This now raises the question: what is a bushel? This had been historically defined as eight gallons of wheat, and each gallon was defined as eight troy pounds. Henry VII confirmed these numbers in 1496 [12 Henry VII]:

that the mesure of the busshell conteyn viij galons of whete, and that every galon conteyn viij pounds of whete of troy weight, and every unce conteyn xx sterlinges, and every sterling be of the weight of xxxij cornes of wheat that grewe in the myddes of the Eare of the whete, according to the old Lawes of this Land

So now we know that a quarter is eight bushels, and a bushel is eight gallons, and a gallon is the volume occupied by eight Troy pounds of wheat. So, a bushel is 64 Troy pounds of wheat, and a quarter is eight times that, or 512 Troy pounds.

It should be noted that in the modern world, we do not commonly use the Troy pound for most things; instead, we use Avoirdupois weights. The ratio of Troy:Avoirdupois is 144:175, so that 64 Troy pounds is 52.66 Avoirdupois (modern) pounds.

However, this tells us the weight of wheat, not of malt. The density of modern malt* is approximately 1/3 less than that of modern wheat (0.49 grams/cc vs. 0.74 grams/cc) [“Bulk Density Charts,” entries “B” and “W”]; thus, the same volume that holds 52.66 pounds of wheat should hold 34.87 pounds of malted barley.

52.66 pounds is 23 886.1742 grams, so the volume of a bushel should be approximately 32287.61 cubic centimeters. In English units, that is 1969.72 cubic inches. This gives a gallon of approximately 246.22 cubic inches. It is worth noting that the modern gallon is 231 cubic inches; the period gallon was (in some cases, as you will soon see) a larger measure than our current gallon.

*It is very very important to note that I am discussing the density of malted barley specifically. Unmalted barley is more dense than malted barley, as the malting process involves a loss of mass from the barley itself, without a significant loss in the volume occupied by the grain.

Actual measurements of the bushel differ from these estimations. The modern-day bushel is defined by the USDA as 2150.42 cubic inches [USDA pg. 4]. According to a secondary source, measurements were taken of the royal standard bushel (made in 1497), held in the London Exchequer’s office (now on display at the London Science Museum), at two different times; in 1497, it was measured at 2144.81 cubic inches, and in 1601 it was measured at 2148.28 cubic inches [Sizes].

In 1645, John Wybard conducted a series of experiments and measurements on the standards found in the guildhall in London. There were found two different standards for a gallon, one significantly smaller than the other. The smaller of the two was the wine gallon, while the larger was corn, beer, and ale gallon. “Corn” refers to barley [Wybard pg. 3].

After a series of experiments, Wybard concludes that the larger of the two gallons, which would be used to measure both a gallon of barley and a gallon of beer, was 265.5 cubic inches in volume. 8 of these gallons make a bushel of barley, at 2,124.0 cubic inches, or 34,806.1 cubic centimeters.

Assuming the density of malt at the time was in fact 0.49 g/cc, that means that a bushel of malt could contain 17,055.0 grams of malt, or 37.6 pounds.

In his writings, Wybard notes that there is a large range of variation in other measurements attested to by other writers [Wybard pg. 2]. Two such writers, according to Wybard, attest to a gallon of 272.25 cubic inches, though one writer calls that a “dry” gallon specifically, while the other calls it an ale or beer gallon. Wybard also mentions writings of a much larger “ale and beer” gallon of 288.75 cubic inches; this will be touched on in the section dicussing the hogshead.

I will assume that Wybard wasn’t making things up, and will entertain briefly the notion of a 272.25 cubic inch gallon. This would result in a bushel of 2178.0 cubic inches, which would contain 38.6 pounds of malt.

This difference of 1 pound between Wybard’s bushel and the other bushel is rather insignificant. In an entire quarter of malt, the result is a difference of 8 pounds: 300.8 pounds versus 308.8, roughly a 2.67% difference.

The final effect on the beer is about 2 points of gravity. So, using the smaller bushel might make a beer with an OG of 1.081, while the larger bushel would result in a beer with an OG of 1.083. Assuming the same degree of attenuation from the yeast, the difference in alcohol content (by volume) is 0.2 percentage points: the difference between 7.5% and 7.7% ABV.
*note: Again, these weights are specific to the March 2011 batch. Specifics for other batches will be given in that documentation.

To this point, this has all been estimation and research based on very old and spotty writings lacking in copious details. I thus endeavored to perform an experiment of my own.

I measured the mass of one cup of Marris-Otter pale malt 10 times, and averaged the values. On average, one cup of malted barley weighs 4.14 modern ounces.

One modern cup is 14.44 cubic inches; thus, there would be 147.4 of these cups in Wybard’s bushel. That would equate to 610.2 ounces, or 38.1 pounds. The larger bushel measure of 2178.0 cubic inches would contain 150.8 cups, which is 624.3 ounces or 39.0 pounds.

So the total possible range of weight in a bushel, based on the research I’ve made (assuming the density of malted barley has not changed substantially), is 37.6 pounds to 39 pounds per bushel.

Thus, the quarter of malt could likely vary between 300.8 pounds and 312 pounds. This is roughly a 3% variation, which again is not significant in this context.

I have elected to use Wybard’s measurement of the volume of the bushel, as his writings are the only ones for which I have a primary source. However, I am using the density of the barley as confirmed by my own experiments, as grain was measured by volume and not weight in-period.

Thus I conclude that the bushel of malt would contain 38.1 pounds of malted barley, which means that the quarter of malt contains 304.8 pounds.

Reducing that by a factor of 20 (see redactions) gives us 15.25 pounds of malt. I opted to round to the nearest whole pound of grain, for ease of measurement and later calculations and estimations. Overall, this is not a significant change.

Markham’s recipe also uses other fermentables: peas, oats, and wheat. While I did not use these, it is important to calculate their weight, so that it can be made up by other grain.

The peas are the trickiest of all to calculate, and as I have no good metrics to use, I will make several assumptions. First, that Markham would be talking about green English peas in the hull; that the density of the pea pod has not changed significantly since the late 1500’s; and that Markham used the peas in the hull.

The modern bushel of green peas in the hull weighs approximately 30 pounds [USDA pg. 14]. Adjusting to the Wybard bushel gives us 29.6 pounds. Markham indicates the use of a peck of peas; a peck is ¼ of a bushel, so that peck would weigh ~7.4 pounds.

For oats and wheat, I will assume that modern bulk density is the same as period bulk density. He advocates half a peck of each of these, which is ⅛ of a bushel (or 1 gallon). A modern bushel of wheat is 60 pounds [USDA pg. 16], adjusted to 59.3 to account for the Wybard bushel; a modern bushel of oats is 32 pounds [USDA pg. 14], adjusted to 31.6 for the Wybard measure again. ⅛ of those measures yields 7.4 and 4.0 pounds of wheat and oats respectively.

Thus, the total for Markham’s other fermentables are: 7.4 pounds of peas, 7.4 pounds of wheat, and 4.0 pounds of oats, for a total of 18.8 pounds.

So Markham’s total grain bill was:
304.8 pounds of malt (one quarter)
7.4 pounds of peas
7.4 pounds of wheat
4.0 pounds of oats

Total: 323.6 pounds

Dividing by a factor of 20: 16.18 pounds. Rounding to the nearest whole pound gives us 16 pounds of grain: 15# of base grain and 1# of other fermentables.

Appendix B: On the Hogshead of Beer

Traditionally, the hogshead of beer was one and one-half barrels of beer. The barrel of beer was 36 gallons, thus making the hogshead of beer 54 gallons in volume.

It is important to note, at this juncture, that this is separate from both the hogsheads of ale (48 beer/ale gallons, based on a 32 beer/ale gallon barrel), and the hogshead of wine (63 wine gallons, divided from the 252 gallon tun of wine).

Also note the use of different sizes of gallon for different commodities; wine and beer/ale were measured in fundamentally different ways, despite the use of common names for those measurements - the gallon.

According to Wybard’s writings (see Appendix A for more detail), the London guild hall had two measures: a wine gallon of ~224 cubic inches and a beer/ale/dry gallon of ~266 cubic inches. For the sake of brevity, as much of this has been discussed already in Appendix A, I will summarize here.

Assuming again that the ale/beer gallon was 265.5 cubic inches, that means a hogshead of beer contained 14337.0 cubic inches. However, the modern gallon contains 231 cubic inches. Thus, the hogshead of beer contained 62.1 modern gallons of beer.

Wybard discusses the writings of two others who attempted to define the capacity of measures. In brief, their numbers work out thusly:

Assuming a 272.25 cubic inch gallon: 14701.5 cubic inch hogshead = 63.6 modern gallons
Assuming a 288.75 cubic inch gallon: 15592.5 cubic inch hogshead = 67.5 modern gallons

It’s worth noting that the modern hogshead (though not in common use any longer) is defined at 63 gallons.

Overall, these measures are a seeing a greater degree of variation than the dry bushel measurements. Wybard makes comments to that effect in his writings, remarking on the diverse opinions as to what exactly constitutes a beer or ale gallon.

As Wybard’s writings are the only primary source, I am using his 62.1 modern gallon hogshead as my standard.


-Markham, G., The English Housewife, Best, M. ed., 1986 McGill-Queen's Press. (originally published 1615, 1623, and 1631.) 2008 edition.

-Harrison, W. Elizabethan England. From A Description of England. Ed. Lothrop Withington. Project Gutenberg. Released 30 May 2010. EBook #32593. London: Walter Scott. Accessed 19 May 2011. Web. <>

-Wybard, J. “Setting Forth the Quantities of the Wine and Ale-gallons.” From Tactometria... London: Robert Leybourn. 1650. Web. PDF. Accessed 19 May 2911. <>.

-United States Department of Agriculture - Economic Research Service. Weights, Measures, and Conversion Factors for Agricultural Commodities and Their Products. Agricultural handbook number 697. Washington, D.C. June 1992. Web. PDF. 27 May 2011.

-Digby, K. The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened. Ed. Anne MacDonell. Project Gutenberg. Released 5 August 2005. EBook #16441. London: Philip Lee Warner. Accessed 19 May 2011. Web. <>

-”Pease.” Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd edition. 1998. CD-ROM, v. 4.0.

- “Tractatus de Ponderibus et Mensuris.” Statutes of the Realm. Volume 1. London: G. Eyre and A. Strahan. 1810 - 28. pg. 204. Web. <>

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