Top 3 drink measurements that we wish were still used

This is a beer barrel - but is it?


If you’ve been keeping up-to-date with The Phoenix Hotel’s blog in recent weeks, you’ll have notice that we published an article which talked about all the different names for measurements of booze across the states of Australia. While those terms still may be a little confusing – who knows what a New South Welshman might expect to receive if he asks for a schooner of beer in the Northern Territory? – none of those names are anywhere near as crazy as this collection of archaic terms for drinking vessels. Here are three of the best.


That’s right – in the olden days of England, you could legitimately ask for a buttload of wine, which is perhaps where the modern expression comes from. However, sauntering up to the bar and asking the staff for a buttload would either mark you out as a raging alcoholic, or as someone buying a round for an entire village. That’s because a butt is equivalent to 108 Imperial gallons – or 491 litres!


If you were to ask for a hogshead of craft ale down at your local bar, you’d likely receive a mystified stare and perhaps a nervous smile whilst the bar staff subtly telephoned the authorities. Way back when, though, a hogshead was a legitimate measurement of beer, albeit a rather large one. At 128 Imperial gallons (582 litres) the hogshead was far bigger than a kilderkin, but not quite as hefty as a tun. As you can imagine, it weighed a fair bit, too – a quarter of a liquid tonne!


Perhaps where the origin of the phrase ‘runt of the litter’ comes from, the rundlet was the smallest of the old Imperial English system, at just 1/14th of the size of a tun. You could even call it a seventh of a butt, if you so wish!

We think that we’ll stick to schooners, glasses and middies for now!

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