Stuff I Sort of Know About: Bottle Bombs

by V Rose Dahrke

Today’s Topic: Remember this? Specifically this paragraph:

Thankfully, I’ve yet to lose any bottles to over-carbonation, but like all home brewers, I make sure that I say “yet”. It can happen even if you’re super duper careful. Odds go up if you’re less so.

About four months ago I made my first ever batch of beer, using a kit from my trusty local homebrew shop. It’s somewhat awkward to transition from mead making to brewing, but not a terrible one. I thought the process went relatively well for a first attempt, despite the end product being described as “too fizzy” and “watery tasting” by certain individuals who shall remain nameless. Overall, I had marked it down as a success.

Two weeks ago I opened one of the bottles which had been sitting in my basement for about two and a half months now. I cracked it; a small jet of foam shot out. I paused, the bottle not yet fully open, and let it subside a bit in an attempt to do that “let tiny bits of pressure out at a time while sighing in annoyance” thing we all do with soda bottles. I cracked it a bit more; it spurted a bit more. I decided “eh, close enough” and popped the cap fully off.

The bottle made a noise like a champagne cork hitting a window, shot the cap at my head in an obvious murder attempt, painted my ceiling with beer, and then continuously streamed foam until it was empty.

Me being me, I wiped the beer out of my eyes and went back to the basement for another, plus four more to put in the fridge. The second bottle, opened very delicately, yielded half a glass of not too unreasonably cloudy beer.  Clearly, this was more than just a fluke.

Luckily, none of them so far have cracked in my hand or exploded in my basement. Of course, I have had to rely on the internet’s most trusted method for disposing of said problematic beverages: drinking them as quickly as possible.

I have learned something through this, though. You see, when an over-carbonated beer does this it kicks up all the yeast at the bottom of the bottle, which is kind of gross to drink and probably won’t make you feel too great. When beer is shooting everywhere your first instinct is to try to get as much of it into a glass as quickly as you can before it ends up as either a yeast slushy or  a sticky floor puddle. Thus, panicking, you pour it as quickly as you can and end up with a sink full of head and a glass half full of chunky beer.

Do not do that.

What you want to do is this:

SORCERY!

Balance it like so and leave it for ten to fifteen minutes. When it looks like this:

Go do something. Maybe wash that ramen bowl and coffee cup.

you can pour it properly. The head won’t carry much yeast into the glass (if any at all) and a good bit of sediment will have settled back to the bottom of the bottle.

Alternatively, you could just not screw up making it in the first place, but for some of us that’s not really an option. Life’s all about the work-around, people.

So, yes, this post was a bit late, but I’ve been busy drinking chewy beer and learning lessons so you don’t have to do either. You’re welcome.

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