Kane’s Carbonation Particulation Nucleation Situation

So earlier this week we recapped Kane’s non-wild weekend bottle release of Mexican Brunch, which resulted in much teeth gnashing and angst among those who were left holding an empty bag after the online pre-sale. In case you missed it, here’s a link to our previous post about Kane’s Piñata. Jeff reported that pick up went smoothly, with none of the usual Jersey jostling and parking woes normally associated with a highly sought release.

Turns out this was just the beginning of the story…

Tuesday afternoon Kane sent out a “Message Regarding Sunday Brunch Bottle Release Pre-Sale” via Eventbrite, which is the online service they used for this shindig. Seems they got word over the weekend that some of the bottles were gushers. If you’re a homebrewer, you know too well that this is not a good thing.

Apparently not all the bottles went kaboom. Kane sez the batch was tested for contaminants (negative) and the stuff was carbed correctly — 2.2-2.4 volumes of carbonation, “the correct tolerance for this beer.” So they cracked open a few, and sure enough they had a couple gushers here and there. In brewery-speak the kinder, gentler word for this phenomenon is “foaming.” Anyway they narrowed it down to the nucleation that occurs when carbonation in solution adheres to particulate. In this case, the spices used in the recipe settled in the tank and likely found their way into the bottling process in greater abundance than they should have.

As most homebrewers will admit, this happens when you’re down to the bottom of the batch and you get some yeast and hops particles in the bottle. The carbonation molecules collect at the particulate, and when pressure is released they expand. Gusher! Ahem, foaming. The only way to alleviate this is to cold crash — chill the heck out of the bottle to settle out the gunk. Then open over a sink and poor as fast as you’ve ever poured. Rapido! Again, this is a skill that most homebrewers learn after watching their labors foam away to an inch of murky crud in the bottom of the bottle.

This is nothing new, even at the top level. Some breweries just shrug it off, claim nobody else had a problem. A rare few imply that the customer did something wrong.

Kane’s response was a refreshing change from the norm, and it sent a wave of incredulity through the brewfan community: Keep the bottles, here’s your money back, open carefully. That’s pretty cool.

It’s created mucho positive buzz for Kane, at the same time turning this particular (pun intended) Mexican Brunch into an immediate collectible.

As for my co-host? Jeff sez he chilled appropriately, ninety-something bucks were refunded to his amex, and it is the best free beer he’s ever had. Kudos to Kane! “For the record, they really were only foamers…bottle opened and then maybe 5 seconds later, the slow release occurs and not the full boat.”

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