2011 | 59 | 1 | 3-24
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THE BREWERY MEASURES USED IN CRACOW IN THE 16TH C. (Krakowskie miary piwowarskie w XVI wieku)

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The skill of beer-making was not alien to ancient communities and in the Middle Ages brewing became a major craft. The methods of production developed then have survived until the present. The process of brewing consists basically of two phases: the production of malt in the malt-house and the production of beer in the brewery. Although the crafts of the maltster and the brewer were distinct, the representatives of these professions in Cracow belonged to one guild, together with inn-keepers. The basic measure used in brewing in those times was war, which meant the amount of beer that could be obtained in one production cycle. The amount was relatively stable; it was established on the basis of the number of barrels of specified capacity which were filled after each cycle. The amount of malt used for one war was also stable; all those quantities were subject to detailed regulations. The author has estimated the weekly, monthly and yearly output of a single brewery, as well as the total production of beer within the city walls of Cracow. In the 16th c. in Cracow beer was made exclusively of wheat malt. The portion of malt needed for one war was prepared from 14 cwiertnias of raw grain. The ready malt had to be milled. Cracow burghers had no mills of their own; the mills belonged to the king and were located outside the city walls. Malt was milled in two mills, called Kamienny and Kutlowski. Since one tenth of the malt was due to the mill as a fee, the brewer got back about 12 cwiertnias of malt. An average Cracow brewery was equipped with a wooden mash tun, a wooden filter tank, a copper or iron tank for boiling water and wort with hops, and some smaller utilities. Brewing was done in cellars, usually situated under the front building. Fermenters were kept there, as well as the newly brewed beer which matured in barrels. The single war of beer, measured by the amount of malt used for mash, was a fixed quantity. Also the amount of beer obtained was stable. It was measured by the number of barrels the brewer was obliged to fill, which was 28 barrels of 62 garniecs each. The situation was changed after 1565, when the Piotrków regulations were passed, changing the volume of a single barrel to 72 garniecs and the output of a war to 25 barrels. This changed the war from 1736 to 1800 garniecs. For unknown reasons those regulations were abolished by the Seym held in Warsaw in 1598. Smaller quantities of beer were measured with the use of wooden quarts (corresponding to contemporary pints) and canfuls, which were first described by monetary terms (for a grosz, for half a grosz and for a szelag) and then by their capacity (of a garniec, half a garniec, or a quart). With time, the vessels became smaller, which created a false impression that the price of beer was relatively stable. The quart was the basic retail measure; canfuls of beer were sold as takeaway. About 120-140 breweries worked regularly within the city walls. In order to investigate the production of beer and malt it is necessary to reconstruct the system of measures applied in this industry. Since every larger brewing centre in Europe had its own system of measures, their output is not easy to compare, which makes it difficult to establish the importance of brewing for the economy of particular centres. Thus, historical data have to be converted into contemporary units. According to A. Falniowska-Gradowska, a korzec was 38.47 litres and a cwiertnia - 115.42 litres. A garniec, according to various authors, was between 2.6998 and 2.7482 litres. There are no data as to the volume of a beer barrel. Assuming the above figures for garniec, the capacity of a 62-garniec barrel was ca 167.39 - 172.62, and of a 72-garniec one 194.39 - 197.87 litres. The amount of malt used for one war was 1417.5 - 1500.46 litres (which corresponds to 850-990 kilograms). With the production exceeding 5000 wars per annum, the demand for malt reached 4500-5000 tons. A quart, the measure that was most important for the average inhabitant of Cracow, was 0.675-0.687 litres, so the 'pint' of that time was larger than the modern one. A single war was 4686.92 - 4770.88 (or, according to the Piotrków regulations, 4859.75 - 4946.75) litres of beer. Hence, the average output of a Cracow brewery was about 1500 hectolitres (in 1557/1558 1552-1582 hl, in 1567/1568 1780 - 1816 hl, in 1594 1213 - 1236 hl) per annum, with the maximal production capacity exceeding 5000 hl. Thus, the brewing industry in Cracow had considerable reserves, which allowed the producers to react promptly to the changing demand. The production of beer in the 16th c., reaching from 130 000 to 270 000 hl, placed Cracow among the leading European brewing cities of that time. The calculations presented in the article concern only the production of beer within the city walls, excluding Kleparz and Kazimierz, which were separate towns then. The yearly output fluctuated considerably, even by several dozen percent, which was typical of all European towns at that time. Between 1450 and the beginning of the 17th c. the production of beer reached its peak, and the traditional borderline between the 'wine-drinking' and the 'beer-drinking' Europe moved to the south. In some regions the rapid increase of beer production exceeded the growth of the population.
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  • Dr Slawomir Dryja, Instytut Historii Sztuki i Kultury, Uniwersytetu Jana Pawla II, ul. Slawkowska 32, 31-014 Kraków, Poland
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