What is a ‘Barrel’ of Beer

In a pub, beer is typically thought of as coming out of a barrel but that’s not always true.

At the brewery beer is put into containers called casks not barrels. Evan though the cask is barrel shaped, it is the quantity of liquid, in gallons, that one of these casks holds which will determine its name,(but there is a cask called a barrel).

So what are the cask sizes? There are seven sizes normally referred to:

Pin or Polypin 4.5 gallons

Firkin                9   gallons

Kilderkin          18 gallons

Barrel               36 gallons

Hogshead        54 gallons

Butt                  108 gallons

Tun                   216 gallons

These names are thought to date back to 1454.

Beer is usually delivered to pubs in Firkins or Kilderkins, which are thought to be the most convenient for sales purposes and easiest to handle. Now having said all this, when the beer starts to splutter and run out as it’s being poured the pub staff always confusingly go and ‘Change the barrel’.


About Mick Gall

Hello, my name is Mick Gall and I hail from Teynham in sunny Kent. I love gardening and ale so I thought I'd try this blogging m'larky. One blog is about all the great ales,ciders,pubs and brewers we have in Kent and Sussex the other is about gardening and wildlife, plus some folklore thrown in.
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