Film: How to make a 15th century beer tap - archaeometallurgy | archaeometallurgy

Film: How to make a 15th century beer tap

Bastian Asmus

Reconstruction: Functional tap from the early 15th century. Reconstruction: Early 15th century tap. The location is Zurich, Switzerland.

Some time ago I made a tap for a re-enactment brewer. I was already able to gain experience with the production of tap taps when I made my Aquamaniles. Therefore I decided to document the manufacturing process. Medieval taps often have a stylized cocks as a handle on the plug.  From the end of the Middle Ages taps or spigozs were made by the Zapfenmacher. One of the centres was Nuremberg. In the iamges of the Mendelsche and Landauersche Hausbücher of the Zwölfbrüderstiftungen it is interesting to note that the process step for the production of the taps shows only the reworking, but never the moulding. The illustration of the redsmith by Jost Amann in Hans Sachs book of trades gives at least a hint of the moulding material..

In the background, lumps of clay may have served as a raw material for the moulding material.

A little later again, in the 17th century, Christoph Weigel depicts the Zapfenmacher in its own right . Here a strong specialisation had taken place within a century.

The films are not about a strict archaeological experiment. Rather, it is a matter of examining some hypotheses on the manufacturing process. First and foremost, these were:

  1. Is it possible to make a wax model where plug and tap fit snugly?
  2. Can you cast this in such a way that there is little rework?
  3. How can the grinding of the plug into the tap be mastered manually?

Have fun watching. As always, I am looking forward to your criticism, questions or suggestions.

The first part deals with the history of the tap and the production of the wax model.

The second part is about moulding the wax model, pouring the tap and the first cleaning after casting.

The third part is about finishing the cast tap. This means that it must be roughed, filed, drilled and ground. The grinding of the plug into the tap’s body was particularly exciting. In fact, absolutely leak-proof tap can be produced with the simplest of means.



Sachs, H. and Amman, J. (1568) Eygentliche Beschreibung aller Stände auff Erden, : hoher vnd nidriger, geistlicher vnd weltlicher, aller Künsten, handwercken vnd händeln ... / Durch den weitherümpten Hans Sachsen gantz fleissig beschrieben, vnd in teutsche Reimen gefasset, sehr nutzbarlich vnd lustig zu lesen, vnd auch mit künstreichen Figuren, deren gleichen zuvor niemands gesehen, allen Ständen so in diesem Buch begriffen, zu ehren vnd wolgefallen, allen Künstlern aber, als Malern, Goldschmiden, [etc.] zu sonderlichem dienst in Druck verfertigt. [bey G. Raben :
Weigel, C. (1698) Abbildung der gemein-nützlichen Haupt-Stände von denen Regenten und ihren so in Frieden- als Kriegs-Zeiten zugeordneten Bedienten an bisz auf alle Künstler und Handwerker / von Christoph Weigel. Available at: (Accessed: 31 August 2016).

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