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It's best to follow proper procedure to avoid bottle bombs, but sometimes the unexpected occurs. Is there a good way to store bottles that would contain an unexpected bomb? I'd like to avoid the potential hazard of flying glass and the cleanup involved with soaking surrounding items in beer.

Is there a particular type of plastic bin that would contain a potential blowout? Are cardboard cases enough?

I've read this but all of the answers seemed to be diagnosing that person's particular root cause.

  • I doubt that cardboard will do it. A friend still has the dent of a bottle bomb in the ceiling. – Robert Jan 18 '17 at 20:38
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No matter how careful you are, you can pick up a wild yeast infection and wind up w/ gushers and bottle bombs. They do explode w/ some force--enough to cause minor injuries for sure--but a regular plastic storage container would contain it. I think the worst you would see is the glass exploding w/ enough force to damage the container but it would still contain the glass--but I've never had even that happen. Cardboard will too... but that's not so fun when you find the cardboard box that's been soaked in beer for three weeks.

In practice, the only precaution I take against bottle bombs is I sample the beer regularly for the first month or two. If it starts to gush, I put it in the fridge and drink it right away. Bottle bombs start out as just severely overcarbonated beer, if you catch it at that point, you should be pretty safe. Even safer is just to dump the beer.

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  • Would a "wild" yeast infection produce more carbonation than a "non-wild" yeast infection? – barking.pete Jan 18 '17 at 18:07
  • I guess if you got it in there unintentionally, any yeast could be considered wild in this case. Every variety and species of yeast is going to have a slightly different list of sugars and can ferment. If there are sugars left by your pitched yeast that an unintentionally introduced yeast can eat, that is where you can have an issue w/ over-carbonation. Brettanomyces strains esp. can be problematical as many of them ferment a lot dryer than standard brewer's yeast. Normally, you will be able to taste something off in the beer if you have one though. – Freedom Francis Jan 18 '17 at 19:59
  • You'd dump a beer because of fear of bottle bombs? Wow. i guess I have been at the easy side with overcarbonation, only having had to mop up a few spills. What about venting the bottles? Certainly doable with swing tops. Or what about pouring the beer in a bucket and bottle again? – Robert Jan 18 '17 at 20:41
  • Dumping is a bit excessive but still safer. The real reason you'd dump a beer overcarbonated due to infection is because it tastes nasty. – Freedom Francis Jan 19 '17 at 15:24
  • Why would over carbonated beers have to be infected - over carbonation might be down to adding to much priming sugar or not allowing the brew to ferment to completion before bottling. In ten years of brewing I have only had one case of lactobacillius infection that caused "explosive" carbonation and that was making elderflower champagne. The possibility of a wild yeast causing excess carbonation is IMHO very low. I have brewed with Brettanomyces both as the main yeast addition and as a secondary addition for conditioning. I have never had carbonation that I could attribute to that agent. – barking.pete Jan 21 '17 at 14:50
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Avoid it as previous answers have stated. Outside of that, if you are worried about it I would just condition in rubbermaid containers, mainly to contain the mess.

That said, I've never had a bomb, so i don't worry about it. I have had gushers though; mainly because I had a few too many homebrews while bottling my homebrew, and I doubled the priming sugar.

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The best way to avoid a "bottle bomb" is to ferment the brew to completion and then add a known amount of priming sugar before bottling. In such a way the amount of carbonation can be relatively well controlled and the "bomb" situation should never occur.

Some do not like using priming sugar and aim to bottle the beer before fermentation of the malt is complete. If the SG is checked to make sure the brew is in a suitable state then the carbonation should be predictable, after all "natural carbonation" should be a repeatable process to be useful.

However if the brew is repeatedly unpredictable or the brew is new and unfamiliar (eg "real" Ginger beer!) then the best thing to do is to use PET bottles with screw tops of the type used for fizzy drinks. PET bottles take a very high pressure and deform and burst rather than explode with "hard shrapnel" Using PET bottles allows one to experiment more safely and work out what conditions are needed to condition the brew safely in a glass bottle.

For my own experience and comments from other brewers I have noticed that "flip top" bottles rarely explode. It seems as the pressure increases the top is unseated and the excess pressure vents slowly. The wire retainer has some slight give and the rubber washer allows a good seal to be reformed after venting. So that may be a option with an inbuilt safety valve. YMMV

It is usually possible to use an enclosed style of plastic beer crate as a container for "highly pressurised" bottles. If there was a bottle explosion then the plastic crate walls would normally contain the flying shards of glass. But this is a false safety. Say the bottles were stored in such a crate or any other bin, barrel or container. Say they were highly pressured and just on the edge of blowing. That would be a very dangerous situation. For example, one might take a bottle from the "safe storage" and it may blow there and then in the hand due to the disturbance. No bin would prevent injury from an event like that. Which is why I recommend finding a way not to make a bottle bomb and if all else fails don't use glass.If one really must use glass try wrapping the bottles in industrial strength cling film. Even several layers of normal domestic cling film (or waterproof tape) will help stop or slow flying shards of glass.

Stay safe!

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