I had collected a lot of curious words for medieval casks and kegs. When I looked into what they each meant, it opened up a window to the very complex world of medieval beer and wine trade. Unlike most brewing words, many words for casks and kegs didn’t start out in English words and most have fallen away, which just added to their mystery.
There were barrel-like containers of many sizes, regulated and taxed, varying regionally and changing measure over time. It led me to comparisons with all the other things stored in casks and kegs, often measured differently, and opened the door to lots of other ways to measure grain and malt. A single gallon of ale, butter, oil, wine, wheat or salmon could all be different sizes. There were major regulation changes over the years that altered English trade across Europe. I tried to capture some of that, and look briefly at what it tells us about medieval brewing. For those of us who like to re-create historical beer, I examine how the measurements affect redacting a recipe.
Published in The Compleat Anachronist, Issue 164, Second Quarter 2014.
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