Last night, shortly after I had gone to bed, I heard a loud "pop/thump" from downstairs. I thought something might have fallen off the kitchen counter. I went downstairs to check it out. It was my first ever bottle bomb.
First off, I know what I should
do per standard advice: don protective gear and carefully open and re-cap my bottles. But before I do that I want to check with the boards to make sure it makes sense given the situation or if there are any other thoughts.
This is a Pliny the Elder clone (big and hoppy IPA) that spent 2 weeks in primary, just under 2 weeks in secondary, and as of Monday 3 weeks in the bottle. The gravity never changed after about the first week in primary, so fermentation was complete.
I opened a bottle for the first time on Sunday (a day before it was technically done in the bottle) and it was the most carbonated beer I'v ever brewed. I assumed it was because I mishandled the bottle and then poured too excitedly, but this thing had HEAD. And it was delicious. Definitely not infected.
I had them bottle conditioning in my kitchen because it had been too cold in my basement, but as of Monday I probably should have put everything down in the basement because it HAS been getting warmer and earlier in the week it started consistently hitting the 70s and even the 80s outside, so the bottles definitely got warmer than was ideal but I wasn't thinking about it.
Part of the reason I wasn't thinking about it was because I made this batch with a friend who lives 4 hours away and was going to split it up and bring him half this Friday, so I was going to put his in the car and put mine downstairs at this time. The trip will probably also involve a car ferry for about an hour (this is option but makes the trip a lot easier).
I used the amount of priming sugar per Beer Smith, although I did have one SNAFU: I bottled 5 bottles before realizing that I forgot to add the priming sugar. I opened the ones I had done and poured them back in, covered the bucket with some sanitized foil, boiled the priming sugar at that time, let it cool, and then got on with it. Because I was flustered and pissed at myself and now in a bit of a rush (because I had some place to go and this was wasting time), it's possible I could have mis-measured the sugar, but the bag of corn sugar that I had was only 5oz total, so I couldn't have gone that far overboard.
So here are my case-specific questions:
- Given how much money we spent on hops for this one, will the lovely hops aroma be sacrificed if I open and re-cap? My friend is a huge hop-head so I woudl really like to avoid losing that aroma upon opening the bottle. As I said if this was one of my Session Bitters I would just pop and recap, no worry.
- What are the chances that I might be OK by throwing the beer in a cooler and moving it to my basement to take 10-15 degrees off the temperature? Fridge is not an option at this point.
- How much of an added risk is the car ride / possible ferry ride? I don't imagine any shaking is good for the situation?
- Any other ideas?
I DON'T want to give my friend any potentially dangerous bottle bombs but I also want to preserve the hop quality of this beer he is so excited for. If it weren't for creating a risk for him and his wife I would probably chill the bottles, put them in a cooler in the basement for now, put that in the car on Friday and go and roll the dice on losing some during the trip. I'd rather lose quantity than quality on this one because he is so excited about it. But I can't give him bottles knowing they might blow up.
I'm eager to hear any creative ideas, or to hear that opening and re-capping won't risk losing the hoppiness. If I do go through that process, how long do I have to leave the cap off before re-capping? As I've seen with the one I drank, there is plenty of CO2 in suspension so I'm not worried about it being flat.