Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Whine time

You know what I hate most about old brewing books? It’s not reading stuff in eighteenth-century German or blackletter type. It’s the weird archaic weights and measures. Just trying to read stuff in Fahrenheit hurts my head most of the time. But look at this; this is just taking the mickey.
In Göttingen, for an entire brewing, that is, as much as is brewed when the Scheffel of barley costs 10 Mgr. and the Scheffel of wheat costs 20 Mgr., one takes: the malt of 18 Malter raw barley, and of 3 Malter 5 Himpten raw wheat, i.e. 22 1/2 Malter barley malt and 4 1/2 Malter wheat malt, making 27 Malter of malt, which must weigh 4840 Pfund. From this 26 to 27 1/2 Fass of beer are made, each Fass reckoned as 104 Stübchen, and 8 1/2 to 9 Fass of small beer, and 60 Zuder of draff is left.
Have you got that? There are five measures in there that I’ve never even heard of before, never mind know what they are in new money. I’ve seen Scheffel before, that’s a volume measure. Mgr. is obviously some sort of unit of currency — note that wheat is twice as expensive as barley. Suddenly we stop using Scheffel and start measuring grain in Malter. A Malter is divided into several Himpten. 27 Malter of malt weighs 4840 Pfund, but since 4840 isn't divisible by 27 I’m not sure how, or why, they worked this out. Fass is barrel, of course, but is divided into 104 Stübchen. Was there a standardised barrel? Maybe if we compare the number of Stübchen in other barrels we can get a clue. Finally, once grain has been mashed and is spent, it gets its own unit and is now measured in Zuder.

I suppose converting Himpten into Zuder must have been how people entertained themselves before the Internet.


  1. if a train leaves Melbourne at 5pm travelling at 145kmph and another train leaves Sydney....

  2. This might help:

    Looks like a Scheffel is 50 litres, unless you're Prussian, in which case it's 54.961 litres.

  3. They sound like Marx Brothers characters. How many rittenhouse in a hackenbush?

  4. Flanian Pobble Beads are only exchangeable for other Flanian Pobble Beads …

  5. There were no standard measures. Every German state had at least one system of measures. Sometimes several. It's a nightmare.

    But, there's a handy book to guide you:,+maass-,+gewichts-+und+wechselcours-verh%C3%A4ltnisse%22&source=bl&ots=pqiqRTORac&sig=WEE6D-9pdiu89E7tJ9mVwfYX2-k&hl=en&ei=jwhATYP1BsycgQfntOzxAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CBQQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    "Compedium der Münz-, Maass-, Gewichts- und Wechselcours-Verhältnisse" by Gustav Wagner and Fr. A. Strackjerjan, published in 1855.

    It covers the whole world. I've found it invaluable. Just yesterday I used it to find the value of an East India Company rupee (2 shillings, as a matter off fact).