September 21, 2012

Barrel Tap

[Update: It appears the threaded tapered tap is no longer being produced.  If you would like a barrel tap, RMBC has had these fabricated and should have them in stock]

I've got plenty of time before we empty the barrel up at O'so, but its never a bad idea to get ready.  Following instructions from Vinnie at Russian River, I drilled a 15/16th inch hole at the bottom of the head and plugged it with a standard Belgian cork; the drain port.  When Russian River is ready to drain the barrels, they pull the cork and jam a 1" hose into the hole.  While I am sure that works fine, I wanted a little easier and more secure way of draining the barrel.

First I got a threaded tapered tap from that look like this:
threaded tapered tap

The sales rep called the one I wanted a "1/2 inch tap", which is the inside diameter of the tap.  The outside diameter of the taper goes from 22mm to 26mm (~7/8" to 1 1/16").  The drain port is 15/16", so it fits perfectly.  I tested it out on a scrap piece of wood, and the tap goes in about half way, and with a half turn, the thread lock the tap in place.

The back end of this piece had a BSP threaded connection.  Breweries, however, use almost exclusively Tri-Clover connections.  I figured it would be nearly impossible to find an adapter, and even if I did find it, I would be left with crevices that could hold unwanted bugs.  So, I ordered a 1" Tri-Clover ferrule from  (note: a 1" Tri-Clover still has the standard 1.5" clamp)
1" Tri-Clover ferrule
I then took the pieces to a machine shop to get them welded.  Its important to note that there is more than one way to weld Stainless Steel, but if you want it food-grade, you have to get someone that can TIG weld the pieces.  I also had the shop bore out the BSP threads from the original tap leaving a smooth, easy to clean, surface.

Threaded Tapered Stainless Steel Barrel Tap with 1.5" Tri-Clover Fitting
Threaded Tapered Stainless Steel Barrel Tap with 1.5" Tri-Clover Fitting.
With this final piece I will attach a shut-off valve.  Then when I pull the cork from the drain port, I can quickly push this piece in and give it a half turn to lock it in place.  Simply attach a tube to to the back of the shut-off and draining the barrels should be pretty easy.


Jabien Letlow said...

I'm curious, what was the cost for the taps from

Levi said...

@Jabien - I don't recall the pricing. The individual I talked to at was named Neville. Here is the email address for inquiries:

John said...

Do you happen to have a part number for the tap you used?

Levi said...

@John - If you click on the picture above it will take you to the part's web page. Go to the very bottom. It is the "1/2 Male, BSP Threaded Stainless Steel Tap". You will want the machine shop to bore out the BSP threading when you have the 1" TC ferrule welded on.

John said...


Thanks for the info. I'm about to start a lambic solera project with four 15 gallon barrels. Since I'll be moving stuff around constantly, do you think adding a TC drain port would be worth the investment, even on the smaller barrels?

Levi said...

@John - I would say not likely. These threaded taps aren't cheap, plus shipping, plus welding... with 15 gallon barrels, I'd just stick to the RR method of pushing in a tube. Either that or break the pellicle and use a racking cane.

Also, with 15 gallon barrels you may want to consider waxing the outside of the barrel:

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