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Am I facing bottle bombs?

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henrikson

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I brewed an amber ale recently with 2 friends, our first time using an all-in-one brewing system similar to brewers edge mash & boil. I've done a few stovetop AG batches before, without major problems. However, this time our control over the mash temps was way off. The control panel showed temps around 70-72C (158-161F) and an external thermometer measuring the top of the mash read around 64C (147F).

We recirculated quite a bit, but the temp difference seemed to remain similar. We did get quite a good efficiency nevertheless, and continued with the process, pitching 2 packages of US-05 once the wort had cooled to room temp. OG was 1.060. Fermentation took place in room temp.

Now, 2 weeks after pitching we had decided for bottling, but for "some reason" we hadn't monitored the stability of the final gravity and only relied on the inactivity of the airlock. The FV was lightly shaked a few times after the fermentation slowed, which has in my experience prevented stalled fermentations. Happily, we racked the wort on top of priming sugar and only in the end of racking did we realise to take a gravity sample, which read 1.020.

This seemed much too high to me, indicating incomplete fermentation. We held a short crisis discussion, but because of schedule problems and inconsistencies in our process decided to continue with bottling. We figured that even if the fermentation was incomplete we could monitor the carbonation level in the bottles and stash them in the balcony or a fridge when a suitable level was achieved, hopefully slowing or stopping the yeast activity.

Soooo, now I would be curious about the chances of this ending up in gushers or bottle bombs... :D And especially the effectiveness of cold storage in slowing bottle carbonation or other options.

Naturally there is also the option of drinking ALL THE BEER before carbonation levels get out of hand... :bott:

Thanks for any advice!
 

Gnomebrewer

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If your mash temps were around the 70C mark, 1.020 is a reasonable FG.

IME, US05 is always finished well within 2 weeks, as long as it's kept warm enough (above about 17C, preferably 18 to 20C). Did it ever get cold? If not, I'd guess that it's done at 1.020. Keep the bottles warm to carbonate, but somewhere they won't hurt anyone if they do explode (but I think it's unlikely).

Cold storage to slow carbonation is a bad idea for beer (but works well for cider), as beer tastes awful when priming sugars are still present (i.e. the beer has to finish carbonating completely before it tastes any good, so slowing it down is pointless).
 

doug293cz

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Yes, monitor the carbonation over time. Putting the bottles in a refrigerator when desired carb level reached is a good idea, the colder the better. The fridge does two things:
  1. Most important is that it reduces the pressure in the bottles. Assume you had 3.5 volumes carbonation. At 70°F, the internal pressure will be 48-49 psi. At 38°F, the internal pressure will be 21-22 psi. Much lower chance of bottle bombs.
  2. Greatly slows down yeast activity, and prevent additional pressure build up.
Brew on :mug:
 

Gnomebrewer

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Putting the bottles in a refrigerator when desired carb level reached is a good idea, the colder the better. T
I'm going to disagree with you on this one Doug. If there's still unfermented priming sugar in solution, the beer tastes like sh*t.
 

doug293cz

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I'm going to disagree with you on this one Doug. If there's still unfermented priming sugar in solution, the beer tastes like sh*t.
What's more important, taste or safety? I will always come down on the side of safety. If the carbonation is appropriate, but the beer tastes too sweet, or has other off flavors, dump the batch, rather than risking glass grenades.

It's possible to try extraordinary measures, like decapping and recapping, but unless you think the beer will be fantastic after overcarb mitigation, why bother.

Brew on :mug:
 

ncbrewer

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I've read accounts of bottles exploding when being opened. Apparently, the stress from the bottle opener started the failure, even though the pressure is less than when warm. I'd go on the safe side and get them good and cold once at desired carb level.
 
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henrikson

henrikson

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Thanks for the replies! I think we're gonna do some tasting when we open the bottles and decide. They're stored in a sauna (living in finland :D) which is moisture sealed and not frequently used, so explosions shouldn't cause too much trouble. Definitely chilling them before opening, though.
 

kh54s10

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I seriously doubt there is a problem. You measured 1.020 after you added the priming sugar so your FG was lower than that. The higher temperatures would also leave you with a little higher FG.

Let the bottles fully condition. At least 3 weeks at room temperature.

But, to be on the safe side, condition the bottles in a strong plastic storage box. You can then give the box a good nudge before opening to see if you have any bottle bombs.
 

Saunassa

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Thanks for the replies! I think we're gonna do some tasting when we open the bottles and decide. They're stored in a sauna (living in finland :D) which is moisture sealed and not frequently used, so explosions shouldn't cause too much trouble. Definitely chilling them before opening, though.
I was with you until I read that they were in a sauna that's not frequently used :(
 
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henrikson

henrikson

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I was with you until I read that they were in a sauna that's not frequently used :(
Luckily in this case it only means that the bottles can live there whenever its not heated :D

As for the carbonation issue, for some reason, the bottles turned out to be undercarbonated o_O
 
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