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Bottle Bombs

I brewed the Surly Cynic partial mash on 1/26/14 and wound up with an O.G. of 1.054. I left it in primary for 12 days and racked to secondary after I had a S.G. reading of 1.018 on Feb 2nd, 5th and 7th consecutively. I then racked to secondary for 14 days and bottled on Feb 21st. For a month the beer was great however yesterday I had a bottle explode in my beer closet and I opened one today and it volcanoed on me in the sink. Can anybody shed any light on what might have caused this. I know my F.G. was a little high, but I had a steady reading 5 days and three readings apart. Thanks for any help. ’

p.s. Should I open and dump the rest of my stash to avoid anymore bottle bombs?

How much priming sugar and how much beer was in the bottling bucket?

I used 5 oz of priming sugar from northern brewer and had a little over 5 gal of beer.

That a little high on priming sugar but not so much to cause bottle bombs. How did you add the priming sugar, it’s possible that it didn’t get mixed in evenly and some bottles have more sugar then others. Could be infection does the beer taste off? How did you clean sanitize the bottle and equipment.

I had one batch that burst rather undramatically. Out of 5 gallons, 3 bottles popped and oozed beer. I don’t doubt bombs are dangerous, but it isn’t a foregone conclusion. Contain the rest of the batch in a cooler or tote, and open carefully.

  1. How did you add the sugar? If not fully mixed you could have bottles with too much sugar.
  2. What is gravity of one of these beers now? I doubt this is caused by previously unfinished fermentation but worth a check.
  3. Possible gusher infection?

What yeast did you use? There are a few strains that are notorious for getting stuck and then for no apparent reason getting active again; I’m thinking of saison strains here. 1.018 seems pretty high for a 1.054 OG beer, and if it was stuck, racking it to a secondary could very well have delayed a resumption of activity by removing it from the majority of yeast that was in the cake.

Definitely take a gravity reading from a bottle. Also, let us know if there are off-flavors present, and does the overcarbing seem consistent bottle-to-bottle or not.

Too much priming sugar. You never need more than 4 oz for 5 gallons.

I actually disagree with this. I had a string of beers that were undercarbed and I was using under 4oz. Maybe it’s my taste in carbonation volumes but 4.5oz is usually my sweet spot for most beers.

Thanks for all the replies. To answer some of the questions. It was the Belgian Ardennes yeast strain, I did not make a starter but thought that since the O.G. was 1.054 it wouldnt be absolutely necessary. To add the sugar once I had about two inches of the beer siphoned into the bottling bucket I poured the sugar water in and once I was done siphoning I used the sanitized siphon to gently stir the beer and sugar water mixture. I have always used the supplied 5 oz of priming sugar provided in the NB beer kits and have never had this problem before. I’m by no means an expert but I have brewed 22 kits in the last 18 months so I was just suprised that I wound up with an actual bottle bomb.

I also pitched the carmel lite tripel on top of this yeast cake and it was a beast that fermented for a solid three weeks. I had a starting gravity of 80 and finished up with 1.017. It sounds like the yeast may have stalled on me. I really dont want to dump all of the beer I have left. I’m hoping it was just a weak bottle or something.

volcano = infected

For 5 gallons I use 1/2 - 2/3 cup of regular table sugar and I have never had a bottle bomb….thank the lord.

[quote=“GarretD”]volcano = infected

For 5 gallons I use 1/2 - 2/3 cup of regular table sugar and I have never had a bottle bomb….thank the lord.[/quote]
Volcano just means it over carbonated. It could be that it is over carbed due to an infection fermenting additional sugars or it could mean it was just additional sacch. fermentation.

I agree… I don’t know why they make the prepackaged priming sugar 5 oz.
now that I always use the calculator for priming, even though it doesn’t seem like enough, it’s perfect.
my last ipa I used 3.5 oz table sugar for 5 gal = perfect!

I agree… I don’t know why they make the prepackaged priming sugar 5 oz.
now that I always use the calculator for priming, even though it doesn’t seem like enough, it’s perfect.
my last ipa I used 3.5 oz table sugar for 5 gal = perfect![/quote]
Everyone’s taste in “perfect” is different. For most beer styles, I’ll use about 4-4.5 oz of table sugar if I’m bottling the batch, because it comes out the way I like it. It should also be noted that the priming sugar that comes in every kit I’ve seen (and I believe NB does this also) is corn sugar. You need about 5% more corn sugar than you do table sugar to get a given amount of carbonation.

It is sounding to me that a stuck then resumed fermentation is the most likely cause of the problem, but the OP should open some more bottles and see if the problem is consistent or not. If not, it could be due to uneven priming or contamination of individual bottles. A friend of mine recently started brewing, and ran into this problem with one of his first batches. Good lesson in why it is important to clean the bottles well.

I just bottled the same kit, partial mash BIAB Surly Cynic, 5 gallons, and bottled 9 days ago. Just checked the bottles stored in boxes in the dark at 71 degrees and all 48 bottles appear well. Time to refrigerate? I’ve generally bottle conditioned my first few brews about 2 weeks, what is generally optimal, and given the OP’s plight should I vary this approach?

Refrigerate one or two to test them out, and THEN IF CARBONATED, THEN you can refrigerate the rest of them.

Good plan, I’m on it!

Chilled them overnight and cracked them open after work tonight and those are two awesome beers with ideal carbonation at present. Into the frig go the other 46! So…5 ounces of corn sugar with 2 very different results(see OP). Will brew this beer again(soon) but to be on the safe side I will downscale the sugar slightly per the calculator.

Well I have some sad news. Today while I was at work I had a second bottle explode. This one separated at the base and the top 3/4 of the bottle shot across my closet like a rocket. I moved the rest of the cynic bottles into the bath tub and opened them all, unfortunately every one of them volcanoed on me.

From some of the responses it sounds like I have have gotten an infection somewhere. The beer tasted fine to me although I have never had the cynic before, however I didn’t pick up on any off flavors. Just for some transparency I strip all of my bottles of labels by soaking them in a bath full of oxyclean and scrubbing with a green pad. I then dunk them in a sink with some white vinegar to remove any residue from the oxyclean and give a thorough rinse. The third step, a day or two before bottling is to run the bottles through the dish washer. On bottling day I soak the bottles, 12 at a time in star san and hang on my bottling tree to drip dry. Whenever I open a homebrew I give the bottle a good rinse with hot water and hang it on the bottle tree over night to dry, afterwards I put it back in the case to be reused (with another star san bath of course) If anybody sees something that I’m doing wrong or has a better way I would appreciate any feed back so I don’t have to dump another case of delicious beer.

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