Barrel - Sizes

Sizes

A barrel is one of several units of volume, with dry barrels, fluid barrels (UK beer barrel, US beer barrel), oil barrel, etc. The volume of some barrel units is double others, with various volumes in the range of about 100–200 litres (22–44 imp gal; 26–53 US gal).

English wine casks
English wine cask units
gallon rundlet barrel tierce hogshead firkin, puncheon, tertian pipe, butt tun
1 tun
1 2 pipes, butts
1 1 1⁄2 3 firkins, puncheons, tertians
1 1 1⁄3 2 4 hogsheads
1 1 1⁄2 2 3 6 tierces
1 1 1⁄3 2 2 2⁄3 4 8 barrels
1 1 3⁄4 2 1⁄3 3 1⁄2 4 2⁄3 7 14 rundlets
1 18 31 1⁄2 42 63 84 126 252 gallons (US/wine)
3.785 68.14 119.24 158.99 238.48 317.97 476.96 953.92 litres
1 15 26 1⁄4 35 52 1⁄2 70 105 210 gallons (imperial)
4.546 68.19 119.3 159.1 238.7 318.2 477.3 954.7 litres

Pre-1824 definitions continued to be used in the US, the wine gallon of 231 cubic inches being the standard gallon for liquids (the corn gallon of 268.8 cubic inches for solids). In Britain the wine gallon was replaced by the imperial gallon. The tierce later became the petrol barrel. The tun was originally 256 gallons, which explains where the quarter, 8 bushels or 64 (wine) gallons, comes from.

Brewery casks
English brewery cask units
gallon firkin kilderkin barrel hogshead Year designated
1 hogsheads
1 1 1⁄2 barrels
1 2 3 kilderkins
1 2 4 6 firkins
1 8 16 32 48 ale gallons (1454)
= 4.621 l = 36.97 l = 73.94 l = 147.9 l = 221.8 l
1 9 18 36 54 beer gallons
= 4.621 l = 41.59 l = 83.18 l = 166.4 l = 249.5 l
1 8 1⁄2 17 34 51 ale gallons 1688
= 4.621 l = 39.28 l = 78.56 l = 157.1 l = 235.7 l
1 9 18 36 54 ale gallons 1803
= 4.621 l = 41.59 l = 83.18 l = 166.4 l = 249.5 l
1 9 18 36 54 imperial gallons 1824
= 4.546 l = 40.91 l = 81.83 l = 163.7 l = 245.5 l

Although it is common to refer to draught beer containers of any size as barrels, in the UK this is strictly correct only if the container holds 36 imperial gallons. The terms "keg" and "cask" refer to containers of any size, the distinction being that kegs are used for beers intended to be served using external gas cylinders. Cask ales undergo part of their fermentation process in their containers, called casks.

Casks are available in several sizes, and it is common to refer to "a firkin" or "a kil" (kilderkin) instead of a cask.

The modern US beer barrel is 31 US gallons (116.34777 litres), half a gallon less than the traditional wine barrel. (26 U.S.C. §5051 )

Dry Goods

Barrels are also used as a unit of measurement for dry goods, such as flour or produce. Traditionally, a barrel is 196 pounds (89 kg) of flour (wheat or rye), with other substances such as pork subject to more local variation. In modern times, produce barrels for all dry goods, excepting cranberries, contain 7,056 cubic inches, about 115.627 L.

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