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Possible to safely over-carb crown-caps?

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muppix

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I've always used carbonation drops at bottling time to add a little sparkle, and the instructions usually recommend 2 drops per 500 ml bottle. In practice this provides a good level of carbonation for the kits I've done so far, Wherry, Honey Porter, etc. For IPAs and cider I'd like another 25% more bubbles please, and for Perry I'd be happy with 50% extra. I'm about to bottle a Wheat Tripel into 330 ml crown caps, and I'm tempted to go for 2 carbonation drops, i.e. 500 ml worth. Is that too much?
 

muppix

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Well, they're bottled now! As usual I'm storing them in a big plastic box while they condition anywhere near carpet, just in case.

What's 3.3 vols? (sorry, n00b here)
 

BrewMeHappy

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You may get gushers if it is over carbonated. I did a raspberry cider last year with Lowicz juice and primed the bottles with it too.

Now I don't know if I bottled too early or the bottle priming measurement was off, or both, but they were well lively. I learned quick after the first one spraying everywhere. The only way to get a full bottle out was to patiently lift the lids slightly to let it gas off and before it started spraying out. No kidding, it was a good 30 mins of constantly doing that before it was safe to pop the lid off properly and pour.

Fingers crossed 🤞
 

Clint

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I think there's a difference between high carb and gushers caused by infection...
 

BrewMeHappy

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They were definitely over carbed but lovely (after 30 mins of getting into them)
 

Scrattajack

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Well...be careful. I had two brews ready for supping at the same time, a Kolsch and a Blonde. Both turned out well so gave one of each to two friends. The Kolsch was a bit lively from the first opening but both of the recipients were seasoned beer drinkers so I wasn't worried as I'd told them to drink it first and keep it refrigerated. Of course, both chose to drink the other one first and leave the potential bottle bomb until last. In one case, the beer was put in a fridge an hour before opening and gushed everywhere, in the other, it ended up under a kitchen table next to a radiator and eventually exploded, thankfully when everyone was out. In contrast, the two bottles kept in the cellar and refrigerated at chez Scrattajack (and opened after those incidents) were highly carbonated but clear and pretty decent.

So the moral of this story is if you carb high, drink it quickly or keep it cool.
 

muppix

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Thanks everyone! I had @Drunkula's link bookmarked already, just never referred to it since I was using predefined carbonation drops and not sugar. Had I read it more clearly at the time I'd have been introduced to the concept of 'vols' as a measurement of carbonation. Just goes to show, you're never too old to RTFM.

It does sound however that there's a good amount of experience among forum members when it comes to over-carbing, and based on the above only @Scrattajack had a potentially dangerous situation, possibly due to excess shaking when the bottle hit the floor and excess temperature when it came to rest near a radiator.

Now that I have my new unit of measurement I'd be interested in learning where the boundaries lie in terms of gushers and bottle bombs, i.e. when can I expect beer all over the floor, and when can I expect a face full of glass. My carbonation drops, confusingly, claim to be Sugar and Glucose, and there are 80 of them in a 160 gram bag. So that's 2 grams of glucose per drop. Using the priming calculator at Brewer's Friend I see that for a British Ale at 2.0 vols I need 2.3 grams of table sugar, which is a smidge more than one carbonation drop. The instructions on the back of the bag don't differentiate between styles of beer, they just tell you to add 1 drop per 350 ml bottle and 2 drops per 500 ml bottle. I've always added 2 drops for 500 ml and found that to be the bare minimum level of carbonation, any less and I'd call it flat. 2 drops is 4 grams and using the calculator that translates to 2.85 vols at half a litre, which actually puts my nearly-flat beer between American Ales / Lager and Fruit Lambic. That can't be right.

On the other hand, I've just used 2 drops per 330 ml bottle for my Wheat Tripel, and that works out at 3.9 vols, which is German Wheat Beer territory. I'd be happy with that, but given that my 500 ml bottles of ale have been borderline under-carbed at 4 grams I'm wondering if the Tripel will also be a tad restrained. Then again I did add more sugar and spraymalt at the beginning than I should have (another case of RTFM) so let's hope that all those sugars have fermented out. Might use gloves and safety-goggles just in case when popping one open in 8 weeks time.

Which begs the question: how many vols do you need to blow a bottle?
And do all crown caps have this safety feature?


(image from Brewer's Friend)
 

fury_tea

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You may get gushers if it is over carbonated. I did a raspberry cider last year with Lowicz juice and primed the bottles with it too.

Now I don't know if I bottled too early or the bottle priming measurement was off, or both, but they were well lively. I learned quick after the first one spraying everywhere. The only way to get a full bottle out was to patiently lift the lids slightly to let it gas off and before it started spraying out. No kidding, it was a good 30 mins of constantly doing that before it was safe to pop the lid off properly and pour.

Fingers crossed 🤞
A jug helps with this too. I had a berry wheat last year that turned into a berry sour. The only way to get a full bottle was to hold the jug over the top, pop the lid and invert the bottle and jug simultaneously and drain the bottle. A helper makes this go more smoothly as well.
 

Shirley Bassett

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I don’t have any experience of carbonation drops.

I use Magners and Kopperberg bottles.

I batch prime my cider at 10g of sugar per litre of brew. They are lively if opened at room temperature, but lightly sparkling if refrigerated for a few hours. I’ve use this amount for Perry as well.

I never had any explode at this level of carbonation.
 

muppix

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I use Magners and Kopperberg bottles.

I batch prime my cider at 10g of sugar per litre of brew.
So that's about 5g per bottle versus my 4g using drops. Makes sense. I've often thought 2 drops (4g) isn't enough for cider, definitely not enough for perry.

Cheers Shirley!
 

BrewMeHappy

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A jug helps with this too. I had a berry wheat last year that turned into a berry sour. The only way to get a full bottle was to hold the jug over the top, pop the lid and invert the bottle and jug simultaneously and drain the bottle. A helper makes this go more smoothly as well.
Good tip!
 

jeg3

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I over carbonated a dunkelweizen a few years ago and a bottle at room temperature emptied itself onto the kitchen ceiling on opening. I batch primed to get 3.5 vols but on reflection didn't mix the priming sugar in well enough. Some were less carbed than others, and almost all of them needed chilling down to near freezing for a day or so. Never had an actual bottle bomb though
 

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