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Before the 1819 Weights and Measures Act when a standard barrel size was introduced, in London a barrel of beer was 36 gallons, but a barrel of ale only 32.
(Outside London both, ale and beer had been in barrels of 34 gallon until 1819.) As a modern person, accustomed to modern usage, I've found it surprisingly hard whilst writing this piece not to lapse into using the term beer generically.
All I day I squirted bright beer into oversized tin cans. The story I had always been told, was this: AK stood for Arthur King, former head brewer at Hole's and father of the beer. Later, I discovered this explanation demonstrated the brevity of popular memory. These are the questions that prompted my initial interest in beer names and their history. And the answers to a load of other questions I thought up on the way. I will consider here only the 18th and 19th centuries.
Filling kegs - I didn't dare tell any CAMRA friends about my traiterous occupation. It's unsurprising that those two letters had such a particular resonnace for me. I will also provide precise definitions of the words they used.
I will explain this system of classification in more detail below. It varied in strength, but was always weaker than the strongest Keeping Beers.
Ales were usually drunk as soon as they had cleared, after about 3 or 4 weeks in the cask. You will note that the differentiation between beer and ale had remained unchanged since the introduction of hops in the 16th century.
18th century English must be treated as a foreign language.
And one for which dictionaries are not readily available.
Information dating from the end of the century, indicates that, at least from a Weights & Measures point of view, Porter was a beer. Here are some ale and beer strengths from around 1760: Source: Combrune "Theory and Practice of Brewing" 1762, his recommended quantites malt for 1 barrel (36 gallons) of beer .Before the development of railways, this was only possible in a city of London's size.The largest brewery already produced a very respectable 91,000 hectolitres in 1748.What the brewer is really trying to tell us is that he makes beers of all the three general types (or families of styles) current at the time.It's more than likely that there was no product called "Bitter".