February 6, 2012

Installing a sample port

A week of fermentation has gone on and I'd like to get a sample of the beer to take some measurements.  I could simply put a wine thief through the bung hole and take out a sample, however, I need to be thinking long term.  Eventually a pellicle will form on the top of this beer, and I won't want to disturb it.  The best way for me to do this is to install a sample port on the head of the barrel.

The best and easiest way to do this is to drill a small hole and plug it with a stainless steel nail.  Because its so cheap, easy, and effective, this method seems to be the industry standard.  If you are having any doubt, there is a thread on Probrewer with some brewers talking about this, and I remember seeing the guys out at Lost Abbey doing this.  

Its important to use a stainless steel nail as you don't want the nail to corrode while in the beer.  This is especially true when doing an acidic beer such as Lambic.  I was thinking a copper nail would be fine as well, but after reading a couple sites, it seems copper leaches at a high level when in an acidic environment...so I would suggest against using copper.

Measuring up the barrel about 5 inches.
There is no exact spot that is suppose to be drilled.  It should be high enough up so that you are above the trub, but low enough to ensure static pressure behind the hole.  I went up 5" from the bottom.

Drilling a small hole into the barrel.
The size of bit is also very important.  Too small, and the nail will slide out.  I used a 7/64" bit as recommended in the Probrewer thread. 

Wort coming out of the sample port.
 It comes out fast and shoots pretty far!  Make sure you have a container of some sort ready.

Stainless steel nail plugging the barrel's sample port.
And there is the final product.  The only stainless steel nail available at the hardware store was a 2 1/2" one. You could use smaller, but its kind of nice having a longer nail.


Anonymous said...

... so how did the gravity look?!

Levi said...

I was just writing that...

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