Monday, August 20, 2012

Carboy Carnage

I am an idiot.

Saturday was supposed to be a day of discovery, learning about the differences between the bottled water I had been using for brewing and the well water I will be using in the future. The plan was really quite simple, do a double brew of the same grain and hop bill, using the same yeast strain but with water from different sources. I had decided to brew an 80/- Scottish Ale, one of my favourite types of beer. The two batches would have been ready in the middle of September, just in time for the onset of autumn, with its cooler temperatures and steady gentle rain, days that always remind me of home.

Everything went swimmingly in the mashes, the well water extracted a touch less colour than bottled, and seemingly more sugar, with each of the 3 runnings being 2º Plato stronger with well water. Eventually I worked out that to keep a rolling boil with my kettle required leaving the lid on for the duration of the 90 minutes, and thus began the downfall of my day.

On previous brewdays I knew that the evaporation rate meant from 3 gallons of wort I got 1.5 gallons to be diluted in ice cold water in an ice bath, keeping the lid on meant I only lost half a gallon to evaporation. As a result I put less cold water in the carboy in the ice bath, and filled up pretty much as usual. Hot wort, ice bath, glass carboy, a cracking combination, as you can see from the picture. The crack of glass was unmistakable and the water turned a rich red as the wort seeped out, flowing easily as I lifted the carboy by the neck to confirm my worst fears.

Not to worry, all was not lost, I had my second boil rolling and I decided to switch out my other glass carboy with a PET Better Bottle. Fast forward to the end of the boil, the ice bath ready, and again less evaporation. With 95% of the wort in the fermenter, I heard a crack. Surely plastic doesn't crack? True enough, it doesn't, but it does melt and shrink and become deformed, as in the picture, next to an unshrunken version. I did a quick search online to see if it would be safe enough to ferment the beer but the collective wisdom was that it was best to ditch the batch.

So my double brewday ended up empty handed because of my empty headedness, but on the upside I will be breaking out my wort chiller in the very near future and will forthwith be doing whole wort boils. As I said, I am an idiot.


  1. Commiserations. That's a bugger.

  2. Ouch, that really sucks. Hate to see batches lost.

    One other thing to keep in mind is that if you do your full boil with the lid on, you're more likely to have DMS (creamed corn taste) in the finished beer, because it's not able to boil out and evaporate with the lid on.

  3. That is tough man. Are you planning to do this experiment again? I'd be interested to see the results. It's something I wondered about when I started playing with water chemistry.

  4. That is terrible news, Fuggled. A double batch too. Lets commiserate over a pint sometime.

  5. A busted carboy AND a better bottle. You sir have my condolences.


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