*BOOM* – Ah crap! What the hell was that?
*BOOM* Shitsticks! Are we under attack?!?
No. That’s just your over primed bottles exploding. Glass is an unforgiving mistress, that’s why PET can be good. They’ll take more pressure than glass.
Unfortunately this isn’t a good situation. If one bottle is over primed, then they’re possibly all over primed. And one bottle exploding can cause a chain reaction which will set off other bottles. What to do? What to do??
If they all start going off, just ride it out. It’s a shit outcome, but you don’t want to end up with a stack of stitches, or losing an eye, just for some beer.
But if it goes quiet, it may just be one or 2 which are suspect. So, Suit up. Get some jeans, a heavy jacket, some safety glasses. No, I’m not kidding. This can be dangerous. Flying glass will cut you up! An exploding home brew bottle will put a piece of glass a good cm into plasterboard.
Now you’re appropriately attired you need to cool the bottles down. Handle them gently, don’t bump them. Get them into a fridge. The reason for this is that at lower temperatures more CO2 will dissolve into the liquid, which means the pressure in the bottle goes down. Once they’re in the fridge the yeast will also go to sleep, so any unconverted sugar will not be turned into more CO2.
You should be ok now. (You’ll get all care and no responsibility from me…) Your beer will probably be over carbonated, so expect lots of head when you pour. The colder it is the better it’ll pour, you’ll also reduce the head if your glass is cold too.
If you really wanted to, once they’re cold you could open them up and then re-cap them. This will let some of the excess CO2 out of the bottle, the down side to this is you may end up with slightly flat beer if too much CO2 gets out. So your mileage may vary.
In any case, hopefully this never happens to you, but in all honesty it probably will at some point. It’s happened to me a few times, which is why I keep my bottles in a place where if they explode they won’t cause any big problems, and also now why I use kegs mostly. For me, that’s under the house, or in the garage. Having a couple of bottles explode, and the beer soak into the carpet of the spare bedroom will leave the room smelling like a nightclub on a Sunday morning, and is not something which is going to endear you to your better half, I know this from experience.
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