If you're new to homebrew, you'll have heard all about the legend of the 'home brew bottle bomb'. That innocent-looking bottle of fermenting grog can suddenly explode without warning, showering everything in the immediate vicinity with fragments of bottle and stinky beer.
So how do you make sure that your homebrew is a success and doesn't end up leaving your house looking like a war zone?
Always use good-quality plastic bottles
If you use cheap, poor quality bottles for brewing, you're courting disaster. Although the cost may be more than using leftover fizzy drinks bottles, it really does pay to use only plastic bottles from a reputable bottle supplier. Decent quality bottles can also be reused.
Only use the best quality brewing ingredients
The old maxim, 'garbage in, garbage out' is certainly true in brewing terms. Take note of the following when buying ingredients:
- avoid old, dusty packets of ingredients
- check use-by dates carefully
- use fresh malt and malt extract for best fermentation
- use only liquid yeast – it ferments more quickly than dried yeast, therefore making explosions less likely
Don't be in a hurry to open your brew
Although it may be tempting to hurry your brew, it's vital that you wait until the beer has fully fermented before you bottle it. Bottling too soon means that the beer will continue to ferment inside the bottle, exerting too much CO2 pressure that may ultimately cause the bottle to fail.
If you're using a plastic bucket for fermentation, make sure that the cover is properly sealed; a leaking lid can give the false impression that the fermentation process is complete, leading to bottling too early. Allow at least two weeks for fermentation to finish before you bottle, longer if the beer is a malt variety.
Get the amount of priming sugar right
It's really important to weight your priming sugar, rather than measuring it purely by volume. This is because the density of the sugar varies from producer to producer and so the weight may vary too.
Keep your brew out of direct sunlight
One of the primary causes of exploding beer bottles is storage in direct sunlight. Heat causes additional fermentation inside the bottles, as well as damaging the flavour of the beer.
Always store your beer in a cool, dark place that is well away from direct sunlight and other heat sources.
The tips given above should help you to avoid the dreaded beer bottle bomb. Always use the best quality ingredients you can find and use only top quality plastic bottles from a reputable supplier. For more information, contact a business such as Ant Packaging.