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A giant beer-barrel at a brewery in London in the 1840s.
The wonderful magnitude of the great London breweries is a familiar source of wonderment. The stacks of casks that might reach, placed side by side, from London to Eton – the vats in which parties could dine and have dined-the colossal machinery which performs the functions discharged by men and women in the puny brewages of domestic and antique beer-making – the floods of brown stout accumulated in the huge receptacles, large enough to be the reservoirs of the water companies of moderate towns – the coopers, smiths, sign-board painters, and other artisans, who lend to the interiors of the great breweries the appearance of small towns-all these matters are familiar to the flying visitors of London and their home-keeping cousins, who listen with wonderment to their tales of the metropolis.
Sometimes, walking on the earthen floor, we pass immediately under the ranges of vats (for none of them rest on the ground), and might then be said to have a stratum of beer twenty or thirty feet in thickness over our heads; at another, we walk on a platform level with the bottom of the vats; or, by ascending steep ladders, we mount to the top, and obtain a kind of bird’s-eye view of these mighty monsters.” (p. 12)
“The space occupied as store-rooms may in some measure be judged, when we state that there are one hundred and fifty vats, the average capacity of each of which, large and small together, is upwards of thirty thousand gallons. (p. 13)