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Hole for "Vinnie Nail"

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  • Hole for "Vinnie Nail"

    I'm going to add a "Vinnie Nail" (a SS nail to use as a sampling port) to a barrel we're going to age some beer in. Do I just pound in the nail, or is it smarter to pre-drill a hole first? Any other caveats? If I drill a hole, what's the best way to keep the sawdust out of the barrel?

  • #2
    if you drill, and if you can, maybe adding a little positive pressure in another hole in the barrel with c02 or compressed air would blow the shavings out as soon as its breached. not sure, just guessing.


    • #3
      I just pound the nails in. But I know others who pre-drill. I suppose without pre-drilling you could split the wood. I guess it depends on how risky you're feeling
      Hutch Kugeman
      Head Brewer
      Brooklyn Brewery at the Culinary Institute of America
      Hyde Park, NY


      • #4
        I remember Vinnie telling the size of nail and drill bit he uses to pre drill the hole, although I don't remember what size specifically, but obviously just a little smaller in diameter than the nail! He never said anything about the dust. I would drill in just before breaching the contents, then hit the nail in the rest of the way.
        Jamie Fulton
        Community Beer Co.
        Dallas, Texas

        "Beer for the Greater Good"


        • #5
          Here is some info that Vinnie sent me via email, I think after tons of people emailing he put together a canned response. Cheers to Vinnie for being willing to help everyone out.

          BTW: If someone has a handful of these nails to spare I'd love to get some. I was going to buy some for the few barrel projects I have going but didn't really want to buy a whole box.

          Here is the info on the stainless steel nail in the barrel head acting as a
          poor man’s MacGyver sample port:

          We drill a hole using a 7/64 drill bit on the barrel head of each barrel.
          The hole can be drilled while the barrel is empty or even with beer in it.
          You just have to be ready with the nail if you are doing it with the barrel
          full. The hole is so small that there is no problem with losing too much
          beer at this point.

          I have two sizes of stainless steel nails that I purchase from McMaster

          1–½” 4d smooth common nail – 316 stainless steel McMaster Carr #
          2” 6d smooth common nail - 316 stainless steel McMaster Carr #

          I use the smaller nail, but, I keep the larger ones around just in case a
          hole gets boarded out to large, it hasn’t happened yet, but, I’m just
          playing it safe.

          I do use barrel wax sometimes ( around the nail after
          I have pulled a sample. We have never had a nail blow out due to pressure;
          they are pretty snug in there.

          You can pull a sample and actually have the flow stop coming out of the
          small hole in the head of the barrel because the barrel is not vented, but,
          there is no issue. It is such a small hole that you can’t harm the barrel.
          If anything, it makes it easier because you can control the flow by removing
          the bung and putting it back into place. I usually drill the hole about
          half way up on the barrel head.

          Recently we've started to drill the barrel out after the barrel has beer in
          it as opposed to before. Sometimes you don't get the small hole drilled out
          all the way. You won't know that this is the case until there is beer in
          the barrel and you see that you don't even have a small stream of beer
          coming out of the hole.

          I've also taken to the practice of having a backup nail in my pocket when
          I'm pulling samples just in case you drop the nail on the floor on accident.

          The hole at the bottom of the head of the barrel (six o’clock if you are
          looking at the head of the barrel straight on) for removing beer with fruit
          in it is a 15/16” hole, the tubing that you use to remove the liquid and
          fruit is also from McMaster Carr. A Belgian beer bottle cork like we cork
          with fits in the 15/16” hole. Here is the part number from McMaster for the

          15/16” OD tubing, McMaster Carr # 5231K944

          It takes a little practice but you can removing the cork quickly and push
          the 15/16” tubing in the cork hole. The tubing is than run down to some
          sort of strainer that you would need to fashion and from the strainer it is
          pumped to a tank.

          Vinnie Cilurzo
          Brewer / Owner
          Russian River Brewing Company
          725 4th St.
          Santa Rosa, CA 95404


          • #6
            Wow! That's the info I needed, plus some! Thanks! Off to find a 7/64" bit...