Science Questions

Why does my beer sometimes explode?

Sun, 7th Oct 2007

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Brewing and Alcohol


Gregory Staradub, MIT asked:

I sometimes brew my own beer. When I open a bottle of beer that Iíve brewed, sometimes it behaves nicely and fizzes up all over the place but this doesnít seem to be correlated with how long the beer has spent in the bottle. Since I reuse the bottles Iím wondering, therefore, if some bacteria have got into the beer and they keep fermenting it in the bottle. Does this theory make sense and what other explanations might there be?


We put this question to Charlie Bamforth, Professor of Beer and Brewing at the University of California at Davis.  You can hear the whole interview here.

Well, thereís all sorts of potential problems with brewing beer yourself. The key secret to brewing good beer is hygiene, hygiene, hygiene. Itís always possible that thereís residual sugar thatís not been fermented properly in the fermenter, thatís left behind in the bottle. Sometimes they may be leakers and the CO2 may come out of the cap. There are all sorts of possible explanations.


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