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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Great Saison Disaster

I suspect few of you care about my homebrewing foibles, but drama compels me to relate a story. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I successfully cultured yeast from a bottle of Saison Dupont recently and made a batch of my own saison with it. For those of you familiar with the style, you know it's marked by its effervescence--great rocky bubbles roil as it cascades into a glass.

Turns out that comes from a rather slow-developing yeast. As usual, I left the beer in the carboy for two weeks and then bottled, never bothering to consider whether the yeast had finished gobbling malt sugar. Two weeks has been perfectly adequate for every beer I've brewed, no matter how strong. All is well and good. I taste the beer going in, and although I went heavy on the botanical additives, the cultured yeast remained unpolluted and it tastes clean and fresh. All good.

Except that the yeast wasn't done. My lovely wife approached me yesterday with the information that she suspected a little creature was trapped in the basement--she found a pool of yellow liquid on the floor. When I descended the stairs, the aroma that greated me wasn't acrid, but nice and beery. I nostalgically recalled the smell of the dorm on a Saturday morning. And sure enough, there was the first exploded beer, pooled on the floor. I tried to pop a couple of the beers and dump the batch, but they were so explosive I feared that even rousing them would cause them to blow like grenades in my hand. Instead, I hustled them outdoors, wrapped in towels, and will wait for nature to take its course.

It's supposed to be 85 today. Boom!


  1. I guess that's where a hydrometer measurement shows its real value. Bottle bombs can be scary! ...not to mention the loss of a pontentially nice beer.

  2. I have always eschewed hydrometers with an almost pious derision, having found that sweet spot of fermentation. But obviously, my sweet spot is outside the rolling hills of Wallonia. Live and learn...