Exploding Ginger Beer Bottles without Yeast!? How did this happen?

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lorne17

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Hello all,

I had an incident today of exploding Ginger Beer bottles. I brewed some Ginger Beer, which I have about 10-12 batches of this recipe before. I had it in a keg and carbonated it via the keg. I do not put any yeast in my Ginger Beer since it's a side and not a brew.

Anyways, I bottled some using Red Hook Bottles (https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/new-redhook-bottles.250637/) and then used a Counter Pressure Bottle filler (like this: https://www.amazon.com/YaeBrew-Counter-Pressure-Bottle-Filler/dp/B0773QX1R1). They were bottled for about 2 weeks. Then when sitting on the counter they exploded (all three did). So hard, that shards of glass were ~15' away and even stuck into the dry wall ceiling above!?!?

I'm so worried about this because I usually bottle from the keg and give a 4 pack to my family for their birthdays (they don't drink alcohol). So with that said, what the heck caused this if the beer isn't fermenting? Bacteria maybe? I usually only boil the ginger beer for a few minutes and let it sit for 1 hour. Then I squeeze about 30 limes and pour that into the ginger beer before kegging. So maybe the limes added bacteria since that's not sanitized/sterile? Could it be that simple and it was bacteria growing in there?

I want to get to the bottom of this so I don't endanger people who want to enjoy my ginger beer.

Thanks in advance,
Lorne
 

RPh_Guy

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Yeast definitely got in there. Wild yeast is everywhere and floats around in the air.
I'm unfamiliar with the process of making ginger beer. Perhaps you could try to step up your sanitation, but there is always risk of contamination resulting in bombs if there's nothing to stop the yeast.

Options for next time:
1. Keep it cold and drink quickly.
2. Add preservatives. Sorbate and sulfite are pretty standard in winemaking. Maybe sodium benzoate? It's not used by homebrew and I'm not sure why.
3. Bottle pasteurization.
4. Sterile filtering while packaging might be useful. Probably not the best choice.

Hope this makes sense
 

RM-MN

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Either bacteria or wild yeast would be my thoughts as to why you got extra fermentation in the bottles. I'd be very suspicious of this entire batch. I'd be sure to sanitize any bottles for subsequent batches and probably add the lime juice to the next batch while it is still hot (above 150F) to be sure the lime juice got pasteurized.
 
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lorne17

lorne17

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Either bacteria or wild yeast would be my thoughts as to why you got extra fermentation in the bottles. I'd be very suspicious of this entire batch. I'd be sure to sanitize any bottles for subsequent batches and probably add the lime juice to the next batch while it is still hot (above 150F) to be sure the lime juice got pasteurized.
It’s fresh queried lime juice. I typically squeeze 30 limes per 4 gallon batch. Maybe I need to just squeeze the lime juice and add to the boil. I’ll need to boil longer as well I think.

Should i treat it like beer and boil a full hour? The recipe has always just called to bring to a boil then remove from heat and let it steep for an hour.
 
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lorne17

lorne17

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Yeast definitely got in there. Wild yeast is everywhere and floats around in the air.
I'm unfamiliar with the process of making ginger beer. Perhaps you could try to step up your sanitation, but there is always risk of contamination resulting in bombs if there's nothing to stop the yeast.

Options for next time:
1. Keep it cold and drink quickly.
2. Add preservatives. Sorbate and sulfite are pretty standard in winemaking. Maybe sodium benzoate? It's not used by homebrew and I'm not sure why.
3. Bottle pasteurization.
4. Sterile filtering while packaging might be useful. Probably not the best choice.

Hope this makes sense
Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll take a look at my options next batch. I just finished another batch and it’s currently on tap. Maybe I won’t bottle this batch.
 

RM-MN

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Should i treat it like beer and boil a full hour? The recipe has always just called to bring to a boil then remove from heat and let it steep for an hour.
Beer is boiled for an hour to utilize the hops as it takes boiling (or close to that) to create the bittering. If your ginger beer doesn't have hops it shouldn't be necessary. Just add the juice before the ginger beer cools. I have sterilized bottles by putting them in the 350 degree oven for an hour, then letting them cool.
 
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