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Any thoughts on why the glass of my beer bottles would crack and explode before the caps would blow? It's a barley wine style, it sat in secondary for at least two months, appeared to be finished and ready for bottling, but is now causing the glass to crack and flood my floor – more than once. Opening one of the bottles indicates it is over-carbonated, thus indicating over priming or an unfinished fermentation, but why the glass and not the caps? Please help me save my barley wine.

Rusty
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Any thoughts on why the glass of my beer bottles would crack and explode before the caps would blow?

Beer bottles just aren't meant to hold higher pressures. If you look at champagne bottles and even soda bottles you'll notice that they have thicker glass and sometimes an indentation in the bottom to alleviate stress concentration. Thicker glass would mean more material and heavier bottles, making them more costly to make and ship. As for the glass breaking before the caps it's just that the tensile strength of the glass is less than the yield strength of the metal caps.

For your barleywine, I'd refrigerate the bottles ASAP. That will cause more CO2 to go into solution, alleviating gushers when you open them. Then you can pop the caps off to relieve the pressure and re-cap them. I'd still keep 'em in the fridge after that just to be on the safe side.
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Speaking of Champagne bottles... If you must bottle then champagne bottles are the way to go. As mentioned before they are much stronger and the thicker glass near the opening means that your cap will not bend as far around the seal bead as it will on a beer bottle. Thicker glass and a less secure cap results in gushers instead of explosions for overprimed beer. I know that's not much of a consolation but just think of the all the kewers you won't have to drink to restock your bottle supply.

Rusty (not that one, the other one)
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Thanks for the explanation. I do have a bunch of Champagne bottles (good source is Jan 1 at your local recycling bin) but I could not imagine finishing off a full liter of barley wine. Do the smaller 8 oz Barley wine bottles take into account high pressures?

Rusty Hopewell
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Thanks for the explanation. I do have a bunch of Champagne bottles (good source is Jan 1 at your local recycling bin) but I could not imagine finishing off a full liter of barley wine. Do the smaller 8 oz Barley wine bottles take into account high pressures?


I'm not sure if 8oz barleywine bottles are designed for high pressure because I've never seen them. I just checked an online supplier and they have 7oz champagne bottles that can be corked or capped. Check it out here:

http://www.grapeandgranary.com

Just go to their online catalog and look at their wine supplies.
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Do the smaller 8 oz Barley wine bottles take into account high pressures?

My experience (with Rogue and Anchor "nips") is that they aren't any stronger than 12-ounce bottles. Commercial barley wines are rather lightly carbonated, so the bottles shouldn't be subjected to higher pressures.

Cheers
Greg
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On champagne bottles:

Allowing higher pressures to occur before bottle explosion occurs sounds like a good way to build a higher energy bomb.

The real solution would be to un-cap the bottles and return to the seconadary and allow fermentation to proceed until done.

It could be that a more aggressive (attenuative?)wild yeast present in some of the bottles has taken over and will ferment more sugar. Did you use a champagne yeast?

What was the OG and the final gravity before bottling?

Nik

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