Where growing, making & good living come together

The weekend of exploding cider bottles

Posted by on Monday 20 June 2011 in homebrewing | 7 comments

It actually started on Thursday night/Friday morning. I woke up to find Lily-dog shut out of the kitchen and John inside the kitchen looking confused. There were bits of glass on the floor but not enough to be a whole bottle or glass – but he couldn’t find the rest of whatever had broken. He was inspecting the empty beer bottles from Wednesday night’s beery evening when Detective Louisa stepped up and suggested the cider – which was housed at the other end of the kitchen, about 4m away – may be to blame. Lo and beyond, the rest of the shattered bottled was found.

John cleared up and put a towel over the remaining bottles – just in case any others decided to go bang. And go bang they did – yesterday morning while I was relaxing (well, gaming) on the sofa in the next room. I have no idea how we missed the first one – the second boom was LOUD. It turned out three bottles had broken – presumably one had set the other too off, and they had also shattered the glass of the kitchen clock (which was above the bottles) and left deep scars in its plastic. Thankfully the towel had caught most of the glass – but sticky cider dripped everywhere.

While he was cleaning up that lot, he put the remaining five bottles into a strong plastic bucket, with a piece of wood on the top, weighed down with a 2kg weight. Just after he’d finished cleaning up, one of those bottles exploded too – the force of the explosion didn’t break the other bottles but it was enough to lift the wood & weight to spray small bits of glass in the vicinity of the bucket. John immediately decanted the cider from the remaining bottles into strong plastic bottles and vowed that it would be drunk by his family that afternoon (it was).

We think a few things might have caused the explosions:

  1. a little too much sugar added at the last stage
  2. not enough air space left in each bottle
  3. the bottles weren’t a strong as they appeared – he’d reused old shop-bought cider/beer bottles as instructed by experts/other homebrewers but perhaps they weren’t as strong as they should be. It was the bottles that gave way, not the caps popping off.

Whatever happened though, it was frickin’ scary and definitely something we don’t want to repeat. I can only imagine the damage it would have done to us or the animals if we’d been in the kitchen at the time.

Have you had homebrew explode before? What precautions do take to avoid it?


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. john b

    My grandad once had a bottle explode shooting the cork through the chair he kept the bottles under and embedding it in the ceiling. he usually sat in that chair which i imagine could have proved uncomfortable.
    i don’t add any priming sugar to cider as traditionally it is flat. it’s only in fairly recent times that the fizz has been added.

  2. Nikki

    My Dad used to make wine and leave it to ferment in the airing cupboard. I remember finding a whole demijohn of very sticky berry wine had errupted and stained every single, sheet, towel and blanket in there – much to Mum’s horror!

  3. sara

    Crikey..we had 6 bottles of strawberry wine explode in our kitchen..the scary thing was i was stood in front of them about 10 minutes before the explosion with our baby son in my arms..took him up to bed and the kitchen erupted..glass all over we found it embedded in the cupboard doors exactly where i was stood…hubby took his life in his hands and took the remaining bottles down the garden and put them in a bucket of water..think they stayed there for about 6 weeks til we felt safe enough to move them and empty down the drain..not made any since and the baby is now 6ft tall and 17 yrs old…


  4. Karen M

    Years ago I made Christmas beer (kotikalya) in the spring and stored it in our pantry which was off the kitchen. BOOM! Bottle bits all over the place. It seems that these sort of things are supposed to be stored in cool dark places with the important part being cool. I guess this is how the beer ended up being a Christmas tradition in the first place. I used to make sima-a fermented lemonade drink too. Never let it set up longer than a couple of days after it was ready so never had this problem. I’ve heard of the same kind of blow-ups when it was left to ferment longer than it actually should.

  5. Hazel

    Ginger Beer in our house. Only it wasn’t in our house, it was in my in-laws kitchen and it embedded shards of glass in the wall…

    I had used screw top cider bottles as they were brown and it looked very Enid Blyton. I swapped to plastic after that!

    On an aside, v good choice of beer (by John?) in the photo! I live quite near to Hookey brewery.

  6. louisa

    Hi guys, lots of near misses and sticky situations!

    john b somewhat uncomfortable, yes. I think my John will tend towards making flat stuff from now on too ;)

    Nikki heh, I bet he was banned from ever using the airing cupboard for such activities again!

    sara eek! a close one!

    Karen M that’s interesting – I wondered if that might be a problem because John doesn’t drink more than a bottle a week – but then I thought about how long commercial stuff sits on the shelves and dismissed it as an idea. I guess they’re not still fermenting though. Something to consider for the next batch either way though.

    Hazel we’ve had bloomin’ fizzy ginger beer but not explosive stuff … yet! Yes, John’s choice of beer – we’ve got lots of good breweries around here so he always goes local for beer on tap, but tries lots of different things in bottles :)

  7. john b

    commercial ciders are pasteurised then carbonated – magners use co2 from an ammonia plant in newcastle, mmm tasty ammonia.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *