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Very Uneven Carbonation! 1 Bottle Bomb!

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BrewMatic

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Hi all,

I know there have been a lot of posts about this and I have searched around trying to find a similar problem. There aren't really any posts that are as extreme as what happened to me.

Brewed a high gravity spiced ale that I was hoping to have ready for about Christmas time... Brewed in mid September spent 4 weeks in Primary, and another 4 weeks in secondary. FG was a little higher than I expected, but stopped moving for a couple weeks. Bottled in early November hoping to have it all ready for Christmas, and it's a couple weeks into 2013 and just tested another bottle to be completely flat! Then last night while my apartment mates and I were all sleeping, I had a bottle bomb!

Luckily no one was injured and I only lost 1 beer, now I have opened about 6 of these bottles all to find them completely flat. It seems that my priming sugar may have ended up in all but a couple bottles?!

I add the boiled then cooled priming sugar solution (4oz Corn Sugar in 2 cups water) to the bottom of the bottling bucket w/ spigot, racked on top like usual (no stirring) then bottled...

Long story short it's been almost 10 weeks since bottling and I have one bottle bomb and 6 sampled bottles that are completely flat. How can I save the rest?

I opened one bottle 6 weeks in, then approximately one bottle a week since to test.

Any thoughts from the experts? Add priming sugar manually to each bottle to determine which are flat/ which are over carbed?

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duboman

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It almost sounds as though your caps did not seal well except for the one that blew, perhaps a few more.

Did you use twist off bottles? Can you twist the caps, are the loose?
 
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BrewMatic

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I thought it might have been the caps too... used regular pry off bottles and all the caps are on tight. I made sure that all of the caps were on with correct pressure as well as seated correctly.

Is there any way to save the batch?

Maybe I can try purchasing a new bottle capper and re-cap/re-prime? I'm a little nervous because it's supposed to be warming up again this week and want to take corrective action to avoid any further bottle bombs...
 

duboman

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What temperature have the bottles been sitting at? Colder than 70 and they will take longer
 
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BrewMatic

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I have been keeping the bottles in my kitchen pantry. I have a window in there that isn't too greatly sealed, so I would venture a guess it's been in the high 60's due to the colder temperatures in New England. It's the same place I keep all of my other bottles that have carbed up properly and quite nicely.

Kind of confusing really since this hasn't happened to me before... any thoughts?
 

Harrier

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A search for "uneven carbonation" brought me to this thread, because I have the exact same situation (including the single bomb). Lesson learned, gently stir in the priming sugar solution. But what do I do with the flat beer? Brewmatic, did you end up finding a solution to your problem?
 

MK2MS

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Well, several things may result in bottle bombs, the most usual are over-primming the beer. The most unusual cause is the head space left inside the bottle, if you left a little head space for the CO2, the pressure should be excessive and the bottle might not resist and may blow over the easiest path, in other words, at the cap area. Other cause can be some contamination, they can ferment complex sugars left in the beer and the result can be explosive. Remember that primming is the most primal way to carbonate flat beer but it's one of the most unpredictable method to the homebrewer. It's important to seal the bottles very well, and even more important is to fill the bottles with the same volume, because the carbonating is a physical proccess that is very sensitive to volume, pressure and temperature. Well, I think that it helps you BrewMatic.
 

Demus

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How high is high gravity? 2 months is a fairly long time for the yeast especially if it's above 10% alcohol. Maybe the yeast were completely spent. This would explain the flat ones, but the bomb is a mystery. Any "fix" would involve risk of oxidation. They do make "priming tablets", which are little hard sugar drops designed to be dropped right in the bottle before capping. I use them a lot because I keg but still like to bottle a 6 or 12 pack of each batch to have a few mobile samples. They work great, assuming there's yeast present to do the job. If you are at all considering kegging, you could start now by carefully emptying each bottle into a keg and force carbonating. How did it taste by the way? Might be more clues in the answer...
 

looneybomber

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If the flat ones tasted a smidge sweet, the yeast didn't do its job. If they weren't at all sweet, you prob had an uneven distribution of priming sugar. Buy some cab tabs, uncap your bottles, drop in carb tabs, recap.
 
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BrewMatic

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I'm at work now so I can't speak to how high the gravity was... I'll have to dig through my notes when I get home. I do know I was shooting for around just under 9% ABV if everything went well. In fact the flat sample I had tasted, you could feel the little bit of "heat" that I was shooting for that warming sensation.

They did however taste a bit on the sweet side. If this is the case, then my yeasties all died off?

UPDATE: Since the bottle bomb, I've moved the whole batch into a large tupperware container to contain any blast and spillage. I thought about cold crashing them, but now that I've waited another couple weeks with the temps up and down nothing else happened. Going to pop another in the fridge then test it out. I'll let you know what I learn...

Unfortunately I don't have a kegging setup yet... do you think there is any other way to save this batch? Maybe I just hold on to them until next Christmas time... maybe I'll have a kegging setup by then... hmmm.....
 

looneybomber

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I've had two batches not carb on me, but I stirred my boiled priming sugar in, so sugar dispersion was not the case. My problem was yeast. Anyhow, what I am getting at is if you had issues with sugar dispersion and yeast dying off, you can hydrate some EC1118 (it's a dollar!) and add 1/2 tsp of sugar to each bottle. Recap and you're done.

If you're scared the yeast died and you now have too much residual sugar leftover, don't add more sugar when you add the EC1118. Bad news is if you have a lot of sugars left over, the new yeast may have too much food to eat and blow up more bottles, but that's probably not going to be the case.
 

JuanMoore

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One possibility not mentioned is that one of the bottles didn't get cleaned well enough, and the exploding bottle was due to an isolated infection.
 

callback79

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I normally keg beer, last batch I tried bottling. I did not stir the beer after racking onto priming solution...no strirring but a good "whirlpool" effect. I tasted the bottom of the bottling bucket and it was sooooo sweet.

I now fear bottle bombs. I've opened only two bottles right now (1 at 2 weeks of conditionning and the other one after 3 weeks). Both were well carbed.

When I move bottles from the pantry to the fridge, I carry those bottles like C4 and would like to wear a juggernaut suit.

My bottles are 16oz and 50oz Grolsch bottles, very thick...but in my mind, thicker means less risk of explosion but if it happens, lot more damage than thinner bottles...
 
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