What is a Firkin of Beer? (In Pints, Gallons, Ounces, and Liters)

What is a firkin? Is it a container or a unit of measurement?

A firkin was historically a keg-like container that stored, transported, or served beer, butter, or sugar typically and they were typically made from wooden staves and steel bindings. A firkin holds about nine imperial gallons, 10.2 US gallons, 81 pints, 1305 ounces, or 38 liters of liquid. Modern firkins are made from stainless steel.

For more on the history of a firkin and how it’s changed, continue reading. We’ll cover what firkins were used for, what they looked like, and how much beer they can hold.

What is a firkin?

Do we still use firkins? Have they changed at all? What’s the difference between a firkin and a keg?

A firkin is both a unit of measurement and a container for solids and fluids. Originally, firkins were used to store beer, sugar, and butter. They were made of wood and iron belts to hold these household foods.

As a unit of measurement, a firkin is equal to 81 pints, or 10.2 U.S. gallons. In imperial units, that’s nine gallons. This means that a firkin can fill a 16 oz. glass of beer 81 times.

Firkins are no longer used as a common unit of measurement and are made out of stainless steel. They operate similarly to kegs and include a tap for pouring and a spile and shive for airflow.

Original firkins of beer can be found on auction and authentic versions are sold for a lot of money.

Firkins vs kegs

These days, firkins are very similar to kegs. They’re a different style and size, though.

A firkin is essentially a smaller keg. The common ½ barrel keg holds 15.5 gallons, whereas a firkin holds 10.2 gallons. Firkins were originally a British vessel and held more than a modern ¼ barrel American keg, but less than a ½ barrel keg.

What were firkins used for?

Firkins were initially made of wooden staves bound together by iron bars. They were used for multiple reasons and were most commonly used for storing butter, sugar, or beer.

Firkins originated in the Netherlands and were used to store household goods like butter, sugar, or beer. They were eventually used to transport beer to British pubs around the 16th century and became a unit of measurement for such commodities. They were also used to cask-condition beer.

Firkin meant two things: a storage container, or a unit of measurement equaling about a quarter of a barrel, or roughly 10 U.S. gallons.

What was stored in firkins?

Firkins were used to store mainly three things, which could be either solids or liquids.

Firkins initially stored butter, sugar, and beer. Firkins offered natural carbonation to beer and gave the beer a smooth mouthfeel. Now, firkins are made of stainless steel and are used almost exclusively for storing beer.

Antique firkins are commonly sold at auction on sites like eBay, sometimes for prices upward of $500.

What does a firkin look like?

Traditionally, firkins looked like smaller modern casks or barrels of beer. They were made of wooden staves bound together by steel belts or loops. Firkins had handles on the top for easy transportation of its containments–usually beer or butter.

Today, firkins are made of stainless steel. They’re small kegs and equal to ¼ of a full barrel of beer. They sit on their side and stand on a wooden stillage with a tap facing outward for pouring. They have a spile and shive at the top to control the outflow of the beer.

A firkin is no longer used as a common form of measurement, courtesy of the Imperial and Metric systems.

A modern beer firkin being tapped in a bar

How big is a firkin?

How big are firkins? What can you compare them to? Firkins hold a lot of liquid and might be bigger than you think.

A firkin is bigger than an average bucket but smaller than a half barrel of beer. It can hold about 10.2 U.S. gallons or 81 pints of beer. Firkins are ¼ the size of a full barrel of beer.

How many pints are in a firkin?

The firkin unit of measurement includes 81 pints.

One firkin, or ¼ barrel, can hold up to 81 pints of beer or liquid. One firkin can pour 16 ounces of beer 81 times.

How many gallons are in a firkin?

A firkin can hold 9 imperial gallons.

One firkin is equivalent to 10.2 U.S. gallons.

How many ounces are in a firkin?

A firkin can hold up to 1,305 fluid ounces.

How many liters are in a firkin?

A firkin can hold 38 liters of liquid.