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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: jjflash on March 24, 2019, 12:20:02 AM

Title: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: jjflash on March 24, 2019, 12:20:02 AM
….on the counter top, in the drawers, in the cabinets, then the floor.

After you have been brewing for many years you figure you have made every mistake know to brewers.
Then one day you make a mistake you have never seen before.

Brewed 12 gallons of Tripel and split the volume into two glass carboys as usual.
One week later moved the carboy to pull the blow off tube.
I use Brew Hauler's on all my carboys - absolutely love this gadget.
Noticed a small amount of liquid under the carboy.
Figured I must of spilled some beer from the blow off.
Week later moving the carboy again and notice again a small amount of liquid.
This is not good.
Figure I will transfer the beer to another carboy to be safe.
Rigged everything up for the transfer and ready to go.
Now I transfer every liquid under 4-5 psi CO2 pressure.
Normally good technique, this time it was a bad mistake.
Slightly opened the CO2 valve and immediately blew the bottom off the carboy.

(https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v676/JJFlash/DSC_0036_zpslz37p98l.jpg) (https://smg.photobucket.com/user/JJFlash/media/DSC_0036_zpslz37p98l.jpg.html)

Six gallons of beer immediately poured over the counter top, into the drawers, into the cabinets.
Spent the entire afternoon cleaning up the mess.

I have used these glass carboys for many, many years.
My brewhouse has a concrete floor.
Now I have never slammed the carboys down hard on the floor.
The Brew Haulers really help control the descent.
However, they do tap the floor lightly.
I surmise this constant tapping over the years cause micro-fractures in the glass.
Not big enough to see when they are being cleaned.
Apparently enough wear through the years and they eventually fail.


Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: Robert on March 24, 2019, 12:46:22 AM
Hey, at least you're okay.   You're lucky.   I think everyone has heard of a brewer using pressure to transfer from a glass carboy and having the whole thing shatter.  You never know where a weakness might be,  and serious injuries are possible.  Maybe time to consider a new type of vessel, or a new method, before your luck runs out.  (I got scared into making such a change.)  Again, glad the only harm is lost beer and a big mess.
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: swampale on March 24, 2019, 11:05:57 AM
I recycled all my glass carboys and went to plastic.
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: ynotbrusum on March 24, 2019, 11:14:57 AM
I use glass rarely anymore (long term sours) and keep movement to a minimum when they are full.  Plastic and stainless are my preferred carboy materials. If you can afford stainless, it is the best approach IMHO.
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: KellerBrauer on March 24, 2019, 12:06:49 PM
I use glass for my primary fermentation and have considered using pressure to transfer as Robert suggested.  I think I’ll forgo that notion in view if this catastrophe.  Good thing no one was hurt!  I have moved to plastic (PET) for my long term fermentation’s as well as for bottling.  Looooove the plastic!  Sorry, jjflash, to see this unfortunate event.
Title: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: BrewBama on March 24, 2019, 12:18:12 PM
Did you put hot wort in the carboy then rapidly cool it? If so, it could have been multiple rapid temp changes over time causing thermal cracks (temperature change causes different parts of a material to expand at different rates, and the resultant stress can cause the material to crack). If the temperature change happens rapidly materials like glass can shatter or seem to explode.

Resistance to thermal shock is part of why Pyrex became so popular for cookware; you could move a hot glass pan into a cool spot without worrying about it cracking or shattering. It’s also part of why laboratories prefer to use borosilicate glass rather than conventional soda-lime glass.


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Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: goose on March 24, 2019, 12:59:10 PM
I use glass for my primary fermentation and have considered using pressure to transfer as Robert suggested.  I think I’ll forgo that notion in view if this catastrophe.  Good thing no one was hurt!  I have moved to plastic (PET) for my long term fermentation’s as well as for bottling.  Looooove the plastic!  Sorry, jjflash, to see this unfortunate event.

I still use glass to some extent for the secondary (i.e. brite tank) and sometimes when I make a 5 gallon test batch of a new beer.  When I keg from the brite, I push with CO2 but NEVER above 2 PSI.  To get it started you may have to goose (no pun intended) the pressure up to about 3.5 PSI for about 5 seconds but then reduce it quickly once the beer begins to flow.  You only need enough pressure to displace the beer flowing out of the carboy and to keep the O2 out.  Rob and I both have a friend who was pushing beer out of a carboy at about 10 PSI and he ended up in the ER to have the wound in his back stitched up after the carboy exploded.  That said, if you have the slightest doubt about transferring from a glass carboy using CO2 to push the beer, don't do it.

i am gradually weaning myself away from glass and using my conical as the fermenter, for dry hopping (which I  previously have only done in a glass carboy), and the brite tank.  I also inspect all of my glass carboys prior to use for any possible fractures in the glass.  PET carboys may also be in  my future but I will need to build a carboy washer so I don't scratch the plastic when cleaning them.

Glad you carboy failure only resulted only in lost beer and not a serious injury.
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: Robert on March 24, 2019, 01:31:56 PM
One further caveat.   Even if you are transferring under low pressure, a little hop material, yeast, trub, whatever could cause a clog and pressure could build rapidly without your noticing.   
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: MattyAHA on March 24, 2019, 04:20:54 PM
Rough , like the rest of us, my first thought was thank God you did not get sliced up or glass in the eye, this is why everything in my brew house is going SS, my carboys are years old also and they are ticking time bombs, im saving my cash up and getting like 4- 7 gallon kegmenters, glad you aint hurt sorry about the lost beer and mess cheers
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: Richard on March 24, 2019, 05:24:13 PM
I stopped using my glass carboy because I feared an experience like yours, although I don't do pressure transfer. My biggest concern was when I was washing it and turning it upside down to drain, etc. I got a PET carboy with spigot and I love being able to lift it with one hand. I also like being able to stick my arm in it all the way to the bottom for cleaning.
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: MNWayne on March 24, 2019, 06:04:19 PM
I've been fermenting in glass for about 20 years. I've been lucky so far. I did manage to crack one due to thermal shock before I invested in an immersion chiller, that was a long time ago. I'm going to pull the trigger on a SS conical. What can I do with all my carboys? I hate to just throw 'em.
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: Robert on March 24, 2019, 06:53:36 PM
I considered the issue of not wanting to just trash them.  But the only use I could think of was to pass them on to another brewer.  I couldn't do that in good conscience, since I was worried myself that they could be stressed and dangerous.  (Most were over 25 years old.  But who knows, new ones could be flawed too.)  So in the end I just trashed them.
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: MattyAHA on March 24, 2019, 07:00:26 PM
I considered the issue of not wanting to just trash them.  But the only use I could think of was to pass them on to another brewer.  I couldn't do that in good conscience, since I was worried myself that they could be stressed and dangerous.  (Most were over 25 years old.  But who knows, new ones could be flawed too.)  So in the end I just trashed them.
i hear ya, once i get all my ss gear im gonna turn my carboys into bottle gardens
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: Bilsch on March 25, 2019, 02:48:46 AM
If you consider the internal surface area of a carboy is about ~700 square inches, your 4 psi of pressure created about 2800 pounds of force on the glass. I'm surprised is didn't end up in more pieces. Glad you survived unscathed.
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: Joe Sr. on March 25, 2019, 03:03:09 AM
I ditched my glass years ago. Cracked one near one-off my kids and that was it. There are too many safer options available.


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Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: goose on March 25, 2019, 01:09:45 PM
One further caveat.   Even if you are transferring under low pressure, a little hop material, yeast, trub, whatever could cause a clog and pressure could build rapidly without your noticing.
[/quote

Absolutely right, Rob!  I have seen that happen and keep a close eye on the transfer to insure that this does not happen.  I have a way larger hose barb on my inline strainer to allow the hop particles to pass right through and have for thee most part alleviated thee problem.  If I see bubbles starting to form in the transfer line, I stop things immediately and resolve the problem.  that is why i am trying to wean myself off of glass.

The other thing I employ is the orange carboy cap on a 5 gallon carboy that pops off when the pressure starts to build.   It works on my five gallon carboys.  The purple ones do not do that.
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: joe_meadmaker on March 25, 2019, 02:49:33 PM
Like others, I've also stopped using glass carboys when brewing.  I rack straight from the primary bucket to corny keg.  But I still use them for mead sometimes because I prefer glass to plastic for long term aging.

I once had a similar experience with a carboy.  I had just racked a mead to a 6 gallon carboy and went to grab the stopper.  In the span of 10 seconds a stupid little gnat had gotten down in to the carboy.  I was able to fish it out but had a slight concern for the mead.  It was a little over 15% ABV, so I thought it would be fine.  But just in case I added a little potassium metabisulfite.  Now once meads have completely fermented out (like in this case), I use a solid stopper rather than an airlock.  When I was taping up the stopper it just didn't register that the metabisulfite was going to release some gas. 

It took a while, but about 2 weeks later that carboy broke right through the middle.  I was in the garage which is connected to the basement and heard a loud pop, followed by gushing liquid.  It took days to get everything cleaned up.  I definitely feel for you jjflash.
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: hmbrewing on March 25, 2019, 04:29:28 PM
This pic bums me out - but so glad you are not hurt.

After I destroyed my first carboy (luckily empty) I gave the rest of them away. I was stunned at the many large shards and even more stunned that I didn't get cut. Plastic and SS are my vessels of choice. The only glass left in my brewery is a pyrex measuring cup and hydrometer.
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: charlie on March 27, 2019, 12:05:00 AM
And that is precisely why I no longer use glass carboys. The suckers can be positively dangerous!

Charlie
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: yugamrap on April 01, 2019, 07:46:22 PM
I switched to stainless and only use 3 glass carboys for a Flanders Red solera.  Two of the three never move, and the third moves just once a year when empty after blending.

I have two fementers set up identically using two items...

The 8-gallon vessels are these: https://brewhaus.com/8-gallon-stainless-steel-moonshine-still-kettle/  A 15-gallon version is also available, but is taller.

These kits for Sanke kegs fit the 2" tri-clamp fittings on the fermenter lids: https://www.brewershardware.com/American-Sanke-Keg-Fermentor-Kit-with-Thermowell.html

The whole 8-gallon assembly fits within a chest freezer for temperature control without needing a collar.  The 15-gallon version would require a collar - it's just a little too tall to fit.  I don't harvest yeast often, so I don't need a conical.  And, I was able to set up two of these for the price of a single conical.  These are easy to move and clean, and can even be heat-sanitized if desired.  And, CO2 pressure transfers work fine using the blow-off fitting and integrated racking cane - no worries about broken glass. 
Title: Re: 6 gallons of beer on the floor....
Post by: Robert on April 01, 2019, 07:57:42 PM


  I don't harvest yeast often, so I don't need a conical. 

I harvest yeast every time and I dont need a conical.  IMO a conical and its fittings would just be a PITA to clean and sanitize and only very expensive ones can be pressurized.   Looks like you've got some functional and economical options there beyond the usual suspects.  (I am exceedingly pleased with my 10 gallon corny.)