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Old 05-05-2008, 08:38 PM   #1
KB12
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Default Bottle explosion forensics

Here's my story.

About 3-4 weeks ago my dorm room started smelling like beer for some reason. I thought this was odd because I always wash out all my bottles but sometimes I delay a day so whatever.

A little while after that I notice a piece of glass on my bathroom floor. This is odd because I haven't broken glass recently. I decide maybe maintenance was around and treaded some glass in or a friend or such. Odd though.

Today I go to restock the fridge, lift up a 24-pack (mixed homebrew) and notice a weird crunching noise and that it's sticking to the box below it. I open it up and low and behold, something went bang.

No beer was present so this explains the beer smell a few weeks. Glass had gotten around and was sticking to other bottles so I conclude that it stuck to a bottle I put in the fridge and then it fell off when the bottle was being rinsed out or something. Two things explained.

Curious thing, the bottled that appeared to explode was a bottle from a brew-on-premise shop, which uses counter-pressure fillers. My understanding is that these bottles don't have live yeast (pretty sure they said they filtered it) and it is therefore very unlikely that they turn into bottle bombs.

So my question is: Did the bottle explode or did it get crushed?

Evidence:
Glass got everywhere. The box was a Sam Adams 24-pack (also a Sam Adams bottle re-capped). The bottle was on one side of the box and there was glass shards on the neck of bottles on the opposite side of the box, with 4 bottles in between.
Cracking: the bottle was in three main segments, the bottom of the bottle, which also had one transverse crack splitting in two; the main section, also had a crack going the full up-down length and another crack going half way up from the bottom; the next of the bottle which separated at the shoulder (only the very top of the neck was still in a ring, with the cap, the rest was all over the box.

The shrapnel and stuff indicated to me that it might have been an explosion. But the counter-pressure filling indicates otherwise. Also, some of the cracking (specifically on the bottom of the bottle) seems to indicate might have been a crush.

I'm really interested (mostly for interest's sake) in what may have happened here and this is how I found these forums. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Also, my room has a thermo-stat and is kept around 68-71 degrees Fahrenheit pretty much all the time (unlikely to be a temp flux problem).

~ KB12

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Old 05-05-2008, 08:46 PM   #2
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Beats me. Perhaps it was overcarbonated and just encountered enough stress to set it off?

btw....welcome to the forums

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Old 05-05-2008, 08:47 PM   #3
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its hard to say exactly what happened but based on what you said about the way it broke it sounds very similar to the exploded bottles ive had they usually break along the seems. even the best filter may miss some yeast, its also very possible it had some wild stuff living in it all sorts of bacteria will eat stuff in the beer and crap co2 or some other gas. I wish I had some pictures of the bottle bombs ive had, if it happens again and hopefully it wont ill post them here.

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Old 05-05-2008, 08:50 PM   #4
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I doubt it was excessive pressure...unless a keg of beer was kegged too soon and was force carb'd with a lot of residual sugars.

Bringing a bottle of that beer to room temp would re-ignite fermentation.

This seems unlikely.

More likely is that it was simply a "bad bottle". I've been to micros that had to pull batches off of shelves because of bottles just breaking due to manufacturing flaws.

I've probably broken a half/dozen bottles myself during the capping process. Sometimes you get get some bad glass.

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Old 05-05-2008, 08:53 PM   #5
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I've had bottles that have been reused multiple times get micro-cracks that are not visible during the inspection process that get worse and worse until they break. Sometimes it is during capping, but more often (strangely) during opening.

I'd chalk it up to a fluke and not worry about it too much.

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Old 05-06-2008, 12:02 AM   #6
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I'd have to agree with the other postings so far. If it were some sort of impact that caused this, you would clearly see an impact area on the bottle. The glass would almost look pulverized and the other cracks would spider out from there. Just my 2 cents....

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Old 05-06-2008, 05:06 AM   #7
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Not sure how long you had that bottle in there, but if it had picked up a bug in transfer (unlikely but possible) then an infection could have taken hold in that one bottle and seriously overcarbed it and made it explode

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Old 05-06-2008, 06:35 AM   #8
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The beer was bottled in December, so it's been around for a few months.

I'm liking the idea of a weakened bottle/micro-cracks. It occurred to me that if the bottled had been crushed it probably would have been me doing the crushing and I would have heard resultant explosion. But I didn't. Micro-cracks would explain some of the cracks that don't seem characteristic of a straight up bottle bomb.

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Old 05-06-2008, 01:42 PM   #9
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Welcome to the forum, and might I say hats off to you for brewing in a dorm room! That sounds tricky and I find it commendable.

Also, I'm going to have to start inspecting my bottle more closely during bottling preparations.

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Old 05-06-2008, 04:35 PM   #10
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Sam Adams had some bottle problems a couple of months back.
see if it is in the batch

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23998137/

Boston Beer Company Inc. recalled select bottles of its flagship Samuel Adams beer after safety checks at its Cincinnati brewery stoked fears that bottles may contain small grains or bits of glass.

The routine quality-control checks of its 12 ounce glass beer bottles, manufactured by a third-party glass bottle supplier, detected defects that might cause small bits of glass to break off and possibly fall into the bottle, Boston Beer said in a statement.

Boston Beer said it has had no reports of any consumer injury but the presence of small bits of glass in the bottle could pose a health risk "under certain circumstances."
Story continues below ↓advertisement

The defective bottles come from a plant that supplies about 25 percent of the company's bottles.

The number of bottles that contain glass pieces is less than 1 percent of the total number of bottles supplied from the plant, the company said.

"Since our founding, we have never issued a product recall for any reason, and are deeply disappointed that these bottles did not meet our quality standards," Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Boston Beer, said.

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