Preventing Bottle Bombs

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

cladinshadows

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2009
Messages
217
Reaction score
23
Location
Long Beach
Let's say, theoretically, someone bottled without paying close attention to their priming rate. Purely for the purpose of discussion we'll assume this brewer primed with enough sugar to push his beer into the range of 4 volumes. What are his options?

Ok yeah it was me.

Could bottle bombs be avoided by removing the caps to release pressure and then immediately recapping? Has anyone had experience with that technique before? I doubt that I will be able to entirely prevent all bottle bombs, but I'd like to reduce the number lost.

Another technique I was thinking about was to refrigerate them when they seemed to reach the desired / non-explosive carbonation level and keep them refrigerated. Would that be effective enough in stopping the process to prevent bombs?

The recapping method seems the most promising to me because it will allow the yeast to keep working until they're done (instead of putting them to sleep too early and stunting the conditioning process), but there's no way to guarantee that there will be any consistency from bottle to bottle, and I may end up with plenty of bombs and a few undercarbed bottles.

Thanks for any input.
 

Schlenkerla

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Apr 18, 2006
Messages
16,776
Reaction score
5,887
The recapping method seems the most promising to me because it will allow the yeast to keep working until they're done (instead of putting them to sleep too early and stunting the conditioning process), but there's no way to guarantee that there will be any consistency from bottle to bottle, and I may end up with plenty of bombs and a few undercarbed bottles.
I tried this once. It never worked for me. I kept on doing over and over and it was a phenomenal waste of time. I still had gushers. But they were slow. If I poured immediately into a glass it was OK.
 
OP
cladinshadows

cladinshadows

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2009
Messages
217
Reaction score
23
Location
Long Beach
I tried this once. It never worked for me. I kept on doing over and over and it was a phenomenal waste of time. I still had gushers. But they were slow. If I poured immediately into a glass it was OK.
At this point gushers would be fine with me. I just want to limit the number of exploding bottles and lost beer.
 

Schlenkerla

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Apr 18, 2006
Messages
16,776
Reaction score
5,887
I guess what I meant to say is that it did not diminish the problem. If you keep them open longer at room temp it might work. It has to be done before they are gushers. I my case not much co2 will came out of them without some type of degassing actvity.

I'm thinking a drill type stirrer might be necessary.

Opening them will relieve pressure I'd guess you have to do it several times.
 

bearduncle

Active Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2008
Messages
29
Reaction score
0
Location
Cambridge, MA
I'm dealing with the same thing right now. A lot of adrenaline was flowing as I defused the waiting bombs, as I had heard two loud pops in the night, only to smell beer seeping out of my coat closet... Luckily I had covered the batch with a trash bag, though even the trash bag was shredded in places with glass shrapnel.
 
OP
cladinshadows

cladinshadows

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2009
Messages
217
Reaction score
23
Location
Long Beach
With this batch I'm willing to invest in a phenomenal waste of time as long as it means I end up with some good bottles that won't blow my hand off if they hit room temperature at some point. This batch was supposed to be my opus!

Here's what I'm probably going to do: open one bottle every 4 days to gauge carbonation/bottle pressure. Once the test bottle for a given day appears to have carbonated to about 1/2 the level I'm hoping for (or I find the corpse of a detonated bottle, whichever comes first) I will uncap the batch, and recap immediately. This should not oxidize the bottles, and will equalize the pressure. Hopefully a single round of remove and recap will release enough pressure to prevent too many exploders. Somebody please correct my line of thinking here if you disagree...

Also: how violent is a bottle bomb? I'm willing to waste a lot of time, but I think I want to keep my hands, eyeballs, and internal organs...Can I even touch them once they're about to pop?
 
OP
cladinshadows

cladinshadows

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2009
Messages
217
Reaction score
23
Location
Long Beach
I'm dealing with the same thing right now. A lot of adrenaline was flowing as I defused the waiting bombs, as I had heard two loud pops in the night, only to smell beer seeping out of my coat closet... Luckily I had covered the batch with a trash bag, though even the trash bag was shredded in places with glass shrapnel.
So did you end up saving any? or was the batch a goner?

EDIT: by the way, I used about 7/8 cup of corn sugar in 3.8 gallons of beer. The beer had held the same gravity for two weeks, so it was done fermenting. I calc'd the 7/8 to give me about 4 volumes when added to 3.8 gal.
 

capn

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 24, 2008
Messages
59
Reaction score
0
Location
SW CT
"Also: how violent is a bottle bomb? I'm willing to waste a lot of time, but I think I want to keep my hands, eyeballs, and internal organs...Can I even touch them once they're about to pop?"

pretty fricking dangerous. heres a link to my little experience https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/holy-beer-bombs-batman-76241/

I kept them in a cooler for a long time as they would pop in waves (especially when the weather warmed up, or when a storm/low pressure system rolled through).
I tried popping a couple open, the pressure shot the cap 20+ ft and pushed my hand/bottle opener. So I ended up tossing a couple big rocks in the cooler and shacking it to get the last couple bottles to break. It was pretty scarry but I was able to talk SWMBO into letting me get a kegged system.//:ban:

Be safe. eye protection, gloves, if you have a heavy leather or carhartt jacket I would suggest using that too.
Good luck.
 

Schlenkerla

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Apr 18, 2006
Messages
16,776
Reaction score
5,887
Be safe. eye protection, gloves, if you have a heavy leather or carhartt jacket I would suggest using that too.
Good luck.
Definitely, use gloves & eye protection, open them ice cold, set the cap back on top and let them warm up and recap them. Its a royal PIA, but I hope it works for you.

Your idea of waiting every few days is good, once you get bottle bomb be REALLY careful.

Its too bad you cant rig a gauge to one of these.

Here's and idea! - You might try opening one now. Put this beer in a soda bottle, then recap it, and do a squeeze to check for hardness every few days. If they get to an explosive state, you can loosen the soda cap to check for gushers. That will happen first before the bombs. You can also see the bottom or neck of the bottle deform as it expands.

This might be a good barometer to check for carbonation
.
 

ChshreCat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2008
Messages
11,517
Reaction score
586
Location
Camano Island
It was pretty scarry but I was able to talk SWMBO into letting me get a kegged system.
Brilliant!

So I bottle my beer tonight and add a couple big spoonfulls of sugar to one bottle. Place that bottle somewhere I know it won't be disturbed but won't hurt anyone. Then when I blows I say "Holy smokes, honey! That could've killed someone! Maybe, just in the interest of keeping my family safe, we should invest in a keezer with three dual-faucet towers and an optional nitro system."

IT... COULD... WORK!!!!
 
OP
cladinshadows

cladinshadows

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2009
Messages
217
Reaction score
23
Location
Long Beach
"Also: how violent is a bottle bomb? I'm willing to waste a lot of time, but I think I want to keep my hands, eyeballs, and internal organs...Can I even touch them once they're about to pop?"

pretty fricking dangerous. heres a link to my little experience https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/holy-beer-bombs-batman-76241/

I kept them in a cooler for a long time as they would pop in waves (especially when the weather warmed up, or when a storm/low pressure system rolled through).
I tried popping a couple open, the pressure shot the cap 20+ ft and pushed my hand/bottle opener. So I ended up tossing a couple big rocks in the cooler and shacking it to get the last couple bottles to break. It was pretty scarry but I was able to talk SWMBO into letting me get a kegged system.//:ban:

Be safe. eye protection, gloves, if you have a heavy leather or carhartt jacket I would suggest using that too.
Good luck.
Yeesh. I was hoping the hand-demolishing/organ destruction was an exaggeration. Looks like I'll be lucky to save any of these and escape with my appendages.

Has anybody else overprimed and come up with a way to deal with it? I really don't want to endanger my roommates' or my own property by waiting around for something to blow up.

EDIT: BTW, this beer ended at 1.013 and the first tester bottle I opened was at 1.016. If I expect it to continue back to 1.013, is that likely to release enough C02 to detonate? I don't want to waste a bunch of testers when it wasn't going to blow up anyway...
 

capn

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 24, 2008
Messages
59
Reaction score
0
Location
SW CT
Brilliant!

So I bottle my beer tonight and add a couple big spoonfulls of sugar to one bottle. Place that bottle somewhere I know it won't be disturbed but won't hurt anyone. Then when I blows I say "Holy smokes, honey! That could've killed someone! Maybe, just in the interest of keeping my family safe, we should invest in a keezer with three dual-faucet towers and an optional nitro system."

IT... COULD... WORK!!!!
my momma didn't raise no fool..... :mug: just remember when you play with fire... she might stop the entire operation.

as for the OP, i would chill them. The ones in fridge never blew up, they gushed, but didn't blow. they might not condition as well but you could still drink it once the head dies down. or you keep them in a 'bomb shelter' like a hard plastic cooler. that way if they go, the mess is contained and no body gets hurt.
stay safe
 
OP
cladinshadows

cladinshadows

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2009
Messages
217
Reaction score
23
Location
Long Beach
Another thing I just thought of is that I used US-05 for this batch, and it went from 1.074 to 1.013... isn't that already over 82% attenuation? Will it even carbonate anyway?
 

Schlenkerla

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Apr 18, 2006
Messages
16,776
Reaction score
5,887
Here's and idea! - You might try opening one now. Put this beer in a soda bottle, then recap it, and do a squeeze to check for hardness every few days. If they get to an explosive state, you can loosen the soda cap to check for gushers. That will happen first before the bombs. You can also see the bottom or neck of the bottle deform as it expands.

This might be a good barometer to check for carbonation
.
Seriously, try this. Use this one as your check bottle. Do this so you don't waste time opening bottles.

The PET bottles are squeezable w/o much carbonation.
 
OP
cladinshadows

cladinshadows

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2009
Messages
217
Reaction score
23
Location
Long Beach
Seriously, try this. Use this one as your check bottle. Do this so you don't waste time opening bottles.

The PET bottles are squeezable w/o much carbonation.
Yep, I already did. That was a great idea.

At day four, the bottles are at about 70 degrees during the day and my tester was partially carbonated already. I took about 2 oz of sample to drink (just because I like tasting green beer to see how far it comes) and the rest went into a sanitized aquafina bottle.

I will be doing the squeeze test and let you know how well it works. I would like to think that my experience here will be able to help people, but I doubt that most people know that they're going to have bombs before they start blowing up...
 

Schlenkerla

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Apr 18, 2006
Messages
16,776
Reaction score
5,887
Yep, I already did. That was a great idea.

At day four, the bottles are at about 70 degrees during the day and my tester was partially carbonated already. I took about 2 oz of sample to drink (just because I like tasting green beer to see how far it comes) and the rest went into a sanitized aquafina bottle.

I will be doing the squeeze test and let you know how well it works. I would like to think that my experience here will be able to help people, but I doubt that most people know that they're going to have bombs before they start blowing up...
Awesome! Don't drink when you go to vent the bottles. You don't need to be messed-up and cut-up if something bad happens. (Sorry, not to meaning preach....Use Gloves & Safety Glasses)
 

ifishsum

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2008
Messages
1,447
Reaction score
10
Location
Portland OR
Don't drink when you go to vent the bottles. You don't need to be messed-up and cut-up if something bad happens. (Sorry, not to meaning preach....Use Gloves & Safety Glasses)
+1, if they smell alcohol on you at the ER then you won't get any good pain meds :D
 

jgbrown

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2008
Messages
83
Reaction score
0
Location
Tucson, AZ
How about you open and dump all the beers back into a fermenter and let the yeast do its thing for a week or two, then reprime and rebottle.
 

GunnerMan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2008
Messages
436
Reaction score
1
How about you open and dump all the beers back into a fermenter and let the yeast do its thing for a week or two, then reprime and rebottle.
Yeah I had that thought, just do it slow but smooth so you minimize oxidation risk. Honestly I like the pet idea + checking them every couple days because green beer is better than no beer at all. Unless this is a super special beer I would just start drinking them, when they started to become gushers I would then recap the ones I havent drank.
 

robertjohnson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2008
Messages
94
Reaction score
2
Location
Walla Walla
Stop! You can save yourself a lot of trouble by sanitizing party balloons and putting a pin prick in each, then uncapping each bottle and fixing a balloon over each bottle. In a few weeks, when all the priming sugar has been eaten up, by some carbonation drops and recap. It looks ridiculous and you might have a slight increase in ABV (a lesser of many evils for sure), but it WILL allow you a do-over without a pretty substantial risk of oxidation and infection.
 

Schlenkerla

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Apr 18, 2006
Messages
16,776
Reaction score
5,887
Stop! You can save yourself a lot of trouble by sanitizing party balloons and putting a pin prick in each, then uncapping each bottle and fixing a balloon over each bottle. In a few weeks, when all the priming sugar has been eaten up, by some carbonation drops and recap. It looks ridiculous and you might have a slight increase in ABV (a lesser of many evils for sure), but it WILL allow you a do-over without a pretty substantial risk of oxidation and infection.
This sounds almost like it could be fun. If not funny to see. It should work though.
 
Top