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Hogshead

From Academic Kids

A hogshead is a large cask of liquid (less often, of a food commodity). More specifically, it refers to a specified volume, measured in Imperial units, primarily applied to alcoholic beverages such as wine, ale, or cider.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) notes that the hogshead was first standardized by an act of Parliament in 1423, though the standards continued to vary by locality and content. For example, the OED cites an 1897 edition of Whitaker's Almanack, which specified the number of gallons of wine in a hogshead varying by type of wine: claret 46 gallons, port 57, sherry 54; and Madeira 46.

Eventually, a hogshead of wine came to be 63 gallons, while a hogshead of beer or ale is 54 gallons.

A hogshead was also used as unit of measurement for sugar in Louisiana for most of the 19th century. Plantations were listed in sugar schedules as having produced x number of hogsheads of sugar or molasses.

Template:English wine casks Template:English brewery casks

Popular culture and trivia

  • This measurement was the namesake for the UK pub chain of the same name.
  • In the episode of The Simpsons entitled ‘A Star is Burns’, Grampa Simpson uttered: “My car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!” That translates into 432 (beer) or 504 (wine) gallons per mile, or about 1.2 litres per metre!
  • In the Harry Potter book series, the town of Hogsmeade contains a pub named the Hog's Head, a wordplay on this measurement.
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