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I'm in the bottling phase with my first batch of beer. Came home last night and one of the bottles had exploded.

The beer spent 7 days in the primary fermenter and hit the target gravity per the kit. Then 2 1/2 weeks in the secondary.

When I transferred to the primary fermenter, I poured the liquid back and forth like the kit suggested and it resulted in a lot of foam so it was hard to tell how much water I needed to top off the batch with. By the end of the process I ended up with only 4 gallons instead of 5.

Reading here I think the issue was too much priming sugar (I used what came with the kit which was meant for 5 gallons) combined with storing them in a place that was a bit too warm.. The door to the room I was storing in got shut and furnace warmed it up more than I thought (72+ degrees).

I moved them to the fridge. Was that the right thing to do? If so, how long should I leave them in there before drinking? They were only in the bottles for 5 days before one burst.

  • How much priming sugar did you add before you bottled? How well did you mix it before you bottled? If you didn't mix adequately, you might have ended up with a ton of priming sugar in a few bottles which could easily lead to over carbonation – gillonba Nov 21 '14 at 16:41
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To answer your question, yes, you did the right thing. The residual yeast in solution that were eating the priming sugar and producing CO2 will go dormant when it gets cold. Putting the beer in the fridge simply stopped any more natural carbonating so you can drink them at any point now.

Did you thoroughly mix the priming sugar into the wort or did you just add it and then bottle? I wonder if the priming sugar - which it sounds like there was probably too much of to begin with - exists more in some bottles than others. The only thing you can really do at this point is to check a few bottles to see if they're overcarbonated and if there is variable carbonation. I'd do that over a sink. Some people may suggested re-bottling, but that would be an huge PITA.

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  • I poured the sugar water mixture into the bottling bucket and racked on top of it. Everything in my kit was prepackage so I used the whole bag of sugar. I did not stir it too much because I was afraid of introducing oxygen at that point. Not sure how sensitive the process is to that. I'll check a couple bottles and see what happens. – Josh Harmon Nov 21 '14 at 23:43
  • So I'm pretty sure it was a bad mix or a bad bottle. I've popped open 6 different ones so far and they are all undercarbonated. Also took some of them out and let em sit for another few days and those ones carbonated nicely. The bottle that did explode didn't so much explode as most of the bottle was in tact, the bottom just cracked out and it pushed up in the case. Taking the rest out to see if they carb up or explode. Thanks for the help. – Josh Harmon Nov 25 '14 at 23:54
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    I'd open these bottles outside, not over a sink. – Robert Oct 11 '16 at 21:24
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Five gallons worth of priming sugar going into four gallons of beer is most likely your problem. The possibility of inadequately stirring it into the beer before bottling (surprisingly not all that uncommon for beginners) may exasperate the problem to the point of bottle bombs.

If over-carbonation is a common problem for several of your bottles, you may consider relieve the pressure by re-capping them with extra caps. Very slightly crack the seal of the cap with a bottle opener, let the pressure out slowly, wait a little bit, then take the whole cap off and recap it with a new one. Just make sure you're suited up for bombs. Seriously, put on your shades when you do it, throw some gloves on, and toss a kitchen towel over the bottle before you reach under it to break the seal on the cap. Bottle bombs are terrifying for a reason.

Keep in mind they'll continue to ferment, even in the fridge, albeit slowly, so if you don't relieve the pressure, drink 'em quick.

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I don't believe it was too much sugar. It might be, but to settle on that means you overlook other possibilities like contamination. The 20% increase in sugar means that you went from 2.7 to 3.2 vol. of CO2. 3.2 is around where things like hefeweizen and Belgian beers are. Pretty much any bottle should be able to withstand 3.2. If it's uneven mixing, then you'll find some bottles that will be undercarbonated. If you get those, then you can logically deduce it might be uneven mixing. But I really don't think the amount of sugar is what's causing your problems.

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