Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

“Bottle Bomb” is a term in the homebrewing hobby that refers to beer so enthusiastically carbonated that it blows the cap right off the bottle, and sometimes even bursts the bottle itself. I haven’t brewed a batch yet that produced a bottle bomb, but I came pretty close with a batch I brewed last July.

It was my second all-grain batch that I brewed from a recipe I found in an on-line forum, but I didn’t notice until after I’d finished that the grain bill was for a ten-gallon batch. I brew five-gallon batches, so I should’ve halved the recipe. It was supposed to be a light, refreshing summer beer but ended up being a high-gravity cauldron of too-sweet witches’ brew, something close to barleywine but not as tasty.

Seven months later, it’s still way too sweet to drink but home brewers as a rule don’t pour any of their creations down the drain if there’s any chance of saving it. Trouble was, the brew was not only too sweet, it was way over-carbonated. I’m pretty sure now that I bottled it before fermentation was complete because every bottle I opened erupted like a volcano, spewing foam from its neck for several minutes, and after I poured it into a glass it had a head several inches thick that wouldn’t go away. The bottle I opened a couple nights ago sounded like a small cannon and foam jumped several inches straight up from the neck. These were bottle bombs just waiting to go off! I didn’t want to dump them but I had to come up with some way of saving them to avoid a big mess in the corner of the brewery where I stockpile bottled beer.

Beer isn’t quite as explosive when it’s cold as it is when it’s warm, so I chilled three twenty-two-ounce bombers, then opened them and let them stand in the sink for about five minutes so they could outgas a bit. All three bottles barfed up a lot of foam, one vigorously enough to bring up the sediment from the bottom of the bottle. After five minutes there was still enough beer left to fill a swing-top growler I had on hand, pouring it carefully down the side to avoid making any more foam. The idea is to leave it for at least another month before opening it again. If I bottled it before fermentation was done, this should give it more than enough room to finish conditioning in the bottle so it’s something drinkable in the end.

foamy | 9:10 am CDT
Category: beer, food & drink, hobby, homebrewing, play
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