Articles – Q


“quarter” entry at page 684 states “a quarter is the standard measure for barley … and it equates to 448lb …”. This is misleading and incomplete. A quarter was originally a volume measure, equal to eight bushels, and a bushel was a vessel that would hold exactly eight gallons of water. The weight of grain that would fit into a bushel (and thus make up a quarter) would vary according to the density and size of the individual grains, and 448lb (four hundredweight) was merely the accepted convention for the average weight of a quarter of barley, as 336lb (three hundredweight) was for the average weight of a quarter of malt. As well as the capacity of a maltings being measured in quarters, so too were breweries: a “ten-quarter brewery” could mash ten quarters of malt at a time, each quarter of malt yielding very approximately four barrels of beer at the “standard” OG of 1055. The term “quarter” looks to have originated from it being a measure equal to a quarter of a chaldron, which was 32 bushels (see OED under “quarter”).