Let's do some cask math.
We'll start with the difference between a US gallon and an Imperial gallon (UK).
- A US gallon holds 128 US ounces, or 3.785 liters.
- An Imperial gallon, on the other hand, holds 153.7 US ounces, or 4.546 liters.
- So, one Imperial gallon is the equivalent of 1.2 US gallons.
- A pin is a cask that contains 4.5 Imperial gallons, or half the volume of a firkin. That's 5.4 US gallons (691.65 fluid ounces, or 43 US 16-ounce pints).
- A firkin is a cask that contains 9 Imperial gallons. That's 10.8 US gallons (1,383.3 fluid ounces), or roughly 40.9 liters, or 86 US 16-ounce pints (even though the last few would be quite 'sludgy').
- A kilderkin is a cask that contains 18 Imperial gallons, or twice the volume of a firkin. That's 21.6 US gallons (2,766.6 fluid ounces, or 461 US 16-ounce pints).
- An English barrel contains 36 Imperial gallons, or four times the volume of a firkin. That's 43.2 US gallons (5,533.2 fluid ounces, or 345 US 16-ounce pints). IMPORTANT: A US barrel equals only 31 US gallons (3,968 fluid ounces).
- A UK hogshead would be 54 Imperial gallons. That's 64.8 US gallons (8,299.8 fluid ounces, or 516 US 16-ounce pints).
At this point, I turned to British beer blogger and author Martyn Cornell, aka Zythophile, for assistance.
The US gallon is based on the old British "wine gallon" of 231 cubic inches, against the Imperial gallon, which is 277 cubic inches.
Wine came in pipes of 126 wine gallons, equal to 105 Imperial gallons, and a hogshead of wine was thus 63 wine gallons - halve that again, and round it down, and you end up with the US barrel, 31 (US or "wine") gallons.
So a 126-(US) gallon "butt", 104 (or 105) Imperial gallons, is really a pipe.
Beer, on the other hand, in the UK came in butts of 108 (Imperial) gallons, which breaks down into two (54 Imperial gallon) hogsheads and three (36 Imperial gallon) barrels.
So that's why a US hogshead is two US barrels, but a UK hogshead is one and a half UK barrels (or three kilderkins),
and why "pipe" and "butt" can be used as synonyms (being both equal to two US hogsheads, 126 US gallons) in the US, but not in the UK, where a pipe is three (Imperial gallons) smaller than a (108-Imperial gallon UK) butt
There'll be a quiz tomorrow. It's open blog, okay?