After An Octave, I Certainly Wouldn’t Complain

Okay, a brief refresher course on the long unused English Liquid Imperial Measurements. Ready, okay:
4 gills = 1 pint
2 pints = 1 quart
4 quarts = 1 gallon
9 gallons = 1 firkin (you knew that, right?)
18 gallons = 1 kilderkin 
36 gallons = 1 barrel (this is NOT the barrel used to measure crude oil, which is 42 gallons)
54 gallons = 1 hogshead (but pay attention, this is not always true)
72 gallons = 1 puncheon
108 gallons = 1 butt (two hogsheads are one butt … there’s an obscene joke in there somewhere)
216 gallons = 1 tun (two butts are a tun … that too is an obscene joke)
1 gallon of wine = six quart bottles
1/4 cask = 13 dozen quart bottles
Octave (or 1/8 cask) = 6 and 1/2 dozen quart bottles
Which means that 
1 cask = 52 dozen bottles, or 624 bottles of wine
Which is an awful lot of wine. Enough to drown perhaps an entire brotherhood of monks for a week at least, depending on how many brothers there are how they hold their wine. And how stingy the abbot is.
But careful, because
1 Hogshead of wine = 43-46 gallons
(and just for fun, and to make sure you’re paying attention)
1 Hogshead of rum = 45-50 gallons
Now that you have a passing familiarity with measurements that aren’t used anymore, this little advert from the back of a 1946 issue of Blackfiars, the monthly journal of the English Dominicans:

Obviously, Albert H. Wetz was selling wine in staggering amounts. For communion, of course (wink wink), but I find myself wondering: who on earth would complain about communion wine not being strong enough? Or is there something going on in English Catholicism in the middle of the 20th century, perhaps a Great Weak Wine Crisis, the kind of wine that didn’t give Father Marsh quite the nip and tuck he needed after a long Sunday of confession and baptizing and dominus vobiscum. And what is the highest strength of wine “permissible by Canon Law?” I suppose I ought to google that. Someday I will.

(Approbation is a good thing. No, I didn’t know that, though it’s fairly easy to ascertain from the context.)

Apparently, these folks still make and sell wine. I wonder if I can still get a firkin of the stuff. Sorry, an octave. That’s still a lot of wine.

(And I’m going to write the nice people at Mt. Gay Rum and see if they sell rum by the hogshead. The proper rum hogshead, and not some piddly wine hogshead…)

2 thoughts on “After An Octave, I Certainly Wouldn’t Complain

  1. “Obviously, Albert H. Wetz was selling wine in staggering amounts.”Probably was taxed less than “regular” wine!

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