Over-carbonation and exploding bottles

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DrSteveBrule

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My second brew is very over-carbonated and I just discovered that two bottles exploded at some point in the past few weeks, so I'm seeking help here.

A friend got me started on home brewing and gave me his tried and true recipe for my first brew. I followed that recipe and used the techniques in Papazian's book. It turned out with low carbonation and I'm pretty sure the fermentation got stuck. Still drinkable for a first brew, though.

I decided for my second that I'd try a more idiot-proof experience with the William's IPA kit. I followed the directions to a tee but messed up with the pitching. The nutrient pack inside the Wyeast smack pack didn't break, and I also spilled some yeast when pitching. Nevertheless, I started at exactly the recommended 1.054 OG, and still got down to 1.026 of the recommended 1.019.

I fermented for the recommended period and took consecutive hydrometer readings to ensure fermentation was complete. Fermentation was at a fairly constant 73°. Bottling went very smoothly. I siphoned very gently and stirred in the priming sugar gently (exact amount for the exact amount of fermented wort).

Every bottle has been consistently over-carbonated. Fizz continues to flow out for a long time, even after being chilled. You have to leave it out for a long, long time for it to lose its over-carbonation, although it's still a drinkable beer. I expected a lower-than-average hoppiness for a kit IPA, but there's very little overall IPA character to this beer. It's sweet and light-bodied. I almost feel uncomfortable calling it a pale ale.

One tell-tale trait, besides the over-carbonation of course, is a cloudiness. Even in clear bottles held up to the light, it's not transparent at all, merely translucent. But I'm almost sure that it had finished fermenting, as indicated by a steady 1.026 reading. The total time was 16 days before bottling, with 18 days after that. The William's instructions call for 9 days at 68°, then 55-65° for two weeks for a "traditional ale flavor" but figured I was good.

Any ideas on what could've caused this? I'm eager to brew my third batch but want to make sure there aren't any glaring errors in my brewing procedure first...
 

shauntraxler

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Were you using a Wyeast Activator or a Propagator? Either way, you should still be making a starter, but it is not "necessary" if using an activator (for 5ga batches).

As far as the over-carbing... Did you calculate based on Co2 volumes, or did you just use the priming sugar that came with the kit? And if the latter, then how much did it come with? 5oz? 3/4 cup?

If you only used the recommended amount, then it shouldn't be over-carbed. I know there is some sort of bacteria that can cause gushing. But the bottle bombs, are usually in direct relation to over-priming...

We need to know how much sugar you primed with before we can figure out why this happened...
 

rancidcrabtree

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I'm fairly new to this myself but 1.026 seems really high for a beer that started at only 1.054. I can almost guarantee it wasn’t done fermenting; it must have been stuck if you were getting consistent readings at 1.026. When you bottled did you move them to a warmer location? If you did it might have kick-started the fermentation again and that could explain why you have gushers and bottle bombs.
 

Dondlelinger

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1.026 seems way to high, but if you actually left it for 18 days its *should have been ok.

If fg is not your problem, for sure was your priming ...Did you just mix the sugar into the batch or did you add sugar individually to the bottles? Either way how much sugar was used?
 
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As everyone pointed out your 1.026 FG is probably your problem. In my shop we call it "Rock the Baby" I would have suggested you rock the fermenting bucket every several hours, for a few days to see if you couldn't roust them.
How well did you oxygenate the wort before pitching? Stuck fermentation or "un finished" fermentation is a tell tail sign of not enough oxygen for the fresh yeast to build a healthy cell structure for growth and be able to complete the task asked of them.
Cheers
Jay
 
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DrSteveBrule

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Were you using a Wyeast Activator or a Propagator? Either way, you should still be making a starter, but it is not "necessary" if using an activator (for 5ga batches).
Activator, no starter. I'm set on making a starter every time now.

As far as the over-carbing... Did you calculate based on Co2 volumes, or did you just use the priming sugar that came with the kit? And if the latter, then how much did it come with? 5oz? ¾ cup?
I think it was ¾ cup but I didn't measure since it was already measured out in the packet that came with the kit.


As everyone pointed out your 1.026 FG is probably your problem. In my shop we call it "Rock the Baby" I would have suggested you rock the fermenting bucket every several hours, for a few days to see if you couldn't roust them.
I actually did rock it after about 14 days since it was up around 1.035, but I did it for maybe 15 seconds two times over the next day. I was going to do it again the next day but a reading showed that it the gravity was dropping, so I decided against it.

How well did you oxygenate the wort before pitching? Stuck fermentation or "un finished" fermentation is a tell tail sign of not enough oxygen for the fresh yeast to build a healthy cell structure for growth and be able to complete the task asked of them.
Cheers
Jay
I did some research after my first brew and concluded that not oxygenating contributed to the stuck fermentation in that batch. But I actually forgot to oxygenate until right after pitching into this over-carbonated brew, so I rocked it for a couple minutes right then.

I was pretty sure that fermentation had stopped. It had at least slowed down to a crawl. My hydrometer has really small numbers, so maybe it was still moving along from what I've read here. I probably shouldn't have chosen such a high gravity brew for my second attempt, especially since my first batch had fermentation problems.

Thanks for the tips, guys! I'm going to keep at it and will probably brew my third in the next week or so.
 
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