I dropped off some beers at my nearest decent pub after work tonight. Arriving in the pissing rain I manhandled the firkins across the car park, down the slide and into the cellar. I must admit I found it a bit of a struggle. Sticking my foot in the deep puddle at the bottom of the slide did not add to the experience.
It got me wondering how do people manage with bigger barrels? Though a full firkin weighs around 50 kg it's still only a quarter barrel. Kilderkins (half barrels) are still in common use and I've heard of some breweries that still use full sized barrels.
Of course back in the day they were made of sterner stuff and hogsheads (barrel and a half) were in common use. These must have been around 300 kg (47 stone). Makes me feel faint just thinking about it.