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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Things that go boom in the heat

I got an email today from a reader who wanted to pass along this info:
This winter I bought a couple bottles of Roots Epic to cellar. I had one about a month ago and it foamed out of the bottle like it had been in a paint can shaker. I should have known then to get the other in the fridge because last night I found my second bottle had exploded. I keep my beers in my basement, but with this hot weather even that is in the mid-low 70's. I was hoping you might be able to get the word out to anyone else who bought a bottle of this to get it in the fridge. Nothing like seeing sticky shards of glass that used to be a $20 bottle of beer.
Yup, warmth + overcarbonation = Boom! (Roots bashers, now is your moment. Personally, I'm going to protect my bottle with my life.)

Speaking of overcarbonation, I've been meaning to relate something I learned recently about yeast. I have been trying to breathe life into a particular beer involving disparate ingredients that will, until the beer is perfected, remain unidentified. They are not germaine to this particular story.

I wanted to dry this beer out as much as I could without resorting to wild yeasts. Using a standard ale yeast (Whitbread, if memory serves), I had gotten it down to about 1.018. It might have gone as low as 1.012, but I wanted to juice it with something drying, so I used Wyeast's Duvel strain just to finish it off. I didn't want much of the character of this strain, but I figured: there's so little sugar, what could happen? (Whenever you append to a brewing experiment the phrase "what could happen?", you should know things are about to get interesting.)

Well, I ended up with a beer that by all appearances was made exclusively by this yeast. It's got a massive head, lots and lots of effervescence, and that amazing Alka-Seltzer roil. To you long-time brewers, I pose the following question: what's the moral of this story?
  1. Duvel's strain, the Leroy Brown of yeasts, will bludgeon anything that gets in its way.
  2. The second yeast always dominates the profile.
  3. Whoa, 1.018, what were you thinking? If you'd finished it out more, the Duvel wouldn't have gone crazy.
  4. Some of the above.
  5. None of the above.
I await your experience and insight with interest.


  1. I've finished a number of saisons with whatever yeast I had lying around without any problem. I don't think the second yeast always dominates the profile.

  2. "Personally, I'm going to protect my bottle with my life."

    Yea Jeff... Wrap you arms around the bottle and hold it close to your chest. Stand in the sun and jump up and down. :-O

    No Roots comment can be added that hasn't already been said...

  3. What final gravity did you end up with?

  4. What final gravity did you end up with?

    Oh ... about 1.012. (a rim shot for irony, please)

  5. At what temp did you put the second yeast to work?

    When Duvel is done with primary they do a secondary near zero for several weeks. That should drop much of the yeast out and change the flavor profile.

  6. Coming late to this party, but my 2008 epic had the same issue - I caught it when oozing, and promptly threw and "Epic Painting Party," where I asked friends to help paint our remodel (part of the reason I've been such a lazy blogger of late) and baited them with the promise of Roots. Beer tasted great still, but I haven't experienced the same issue with the 2007 (cozy in my basement). My guess is the beer wasn't done fermenting and was bottled too soon.