Monday, October 8, 2012

Bottle Bombs!

Not looking bad...
Unfortunately batch #9 contracted some kind of infection between primary and secondary fermentation (we've since gone nuclear on all our equipment with Star San). Based on the research I've done it seems this was some kind of Lacto Bacillus infection. While not a show stopper it does render this batch somewhat... experimental shall we say. Some of them are turning out fine, others very heavy with sediment, and yet others gushing multiple feet in the air upon opening.

This seems pretty rare but I've read stories, some sounded pretty dangerous and messy - especially this one. So one day we hear a thudding sound and search the whole apartment looking for something that had presumably fallen off a shelf or similar. Finding nothing we continued our regular evening. Later when coming to check on a batch in our brew closet I found a small pool of beer in the top of our primary fermentation bucket. My first thought was that the primary had blown out of the fermentation lock, but a cursory taste didn't gel with the IPA I'd recently tucked away. Eventually I noticed that the beer was dripping down from the shelf above, the bottle shelf. All the bottles looked fine from the top down, but all were sitting in a puddle of beer. I ended up having to remove the lot to check each one.

See the odd one out?
How about now?
Looks like this one broke clean
Really something of a lucky near miss

So one of these bottles had the bottom shear clean off and split in half, with the upper portion sitting in the newly widened base. It was a hassle to clean up the whole closet, two fermenters and 20-30 bottles, but I was glad to have dodged a bullet in terms of injury and property damage.

Lesson learned: mix the priming sugar more thoroughly. I'm not sure if this would have helped what with the Lacto infection, but its good practice anyway and I have had uneven conditioning with less deadly consequences. As for #9, I think I'm going to put it away and see if it sours up. But it might be a lost cause depending on my ongoing bottle needs. Either way there will be kegging in my future.