Mr. Beer Mishap

So I pull out the keg the other day to bottle the Blackberry Brew that I’ve been fermenting for a couple of weeks, and what do I discover? The keg damn near exploded, that’s what.

Like I’ve said in earlier posts, the screw top system seems to have a few drawbacks. For one thing, the level of tightening that you need to use is questionable. I appearantly overtightened the lid, and the result was that the keg was overpressurized. Given that it is a fruit based beer, there’s a lot of fermentation going on, which means a lot of gas released. With it too tight, the gas couldn’t easily escape the keg and the keg was bulging and bent out of shape. Fortunately, it didn’t actually burst, but it was indeed pressurized, as I discovered when removing the lid and hearing the fizzzzzzz sound it made.

The beer was fine and I was able to bottle it easily enough, but the keg is damaged to the point where I really can’t use it any more. It also did some damage to the tap mechanism, which is not surprising considering the quality of the mechanism anyway.

I’ve changed my next club order to get a new keg, along with a 2 liter growler. The keg is only $10, so it’s not a big loss or anything, still, it is a bit annoying. I think I’ll keep using the Mr. Beer keg for smaller batches, but I’m definitely going to go buy a more sturdy fermenting vessel and make some larger batches as well. I’ll probably only continue to use the Mr. Beer for experimentation purposes, since I do find that an 8 liter batch is darn near perfect in terms of speed. You can have a decent beer made from start to finish in a month with that quantity, whereas the next bigger size (5 gallons) would take at least 3 months or so.

All in all, given the quality of the keg in such circumstances, and the non-dishwasher safeness of it, I can only recommend the Mr. Beer setup for a) people new to home-brewing and wanting to learn easily, and b) people wanting an easy way to quickly experiment with new brews and styles. The lack of a proper airlock with a ball valve (to prevent contamination) just makes the Mr. Beer keg suitable only for very short fermentation times. 2 weeks, maximum.

Just be sure not to overtighten the lid.

0 thoughts on “Mr. Beer Mishap”

  1. Hi Otto-I just want to extend my condolences for the loss of your keg. It happens to all of us sooner or later. Fruit beers are inherently risky, in part because of the extra fermentables. When the krausen gets up into the vent holes, bits of fruit can easily plug them up and allow pressure to build. At Mr.Beer, we’ve had some unfortunate messes as well. Over the years, we’ve learned that it’s best to put the lid on fairly loosely, and leave the keg in a shallow dish (just in case it overflows). With the lid on very loosely, your beer’s krausen is far less likely to clog the vent holes. If you ever see leakage, don’t hesitate to remove the lid to clean those vent holes. The yeast are so healthy and active that the risk of contamination is pretty minimal. You might have a bit of leakage-type mess, but it is better than having fruit beer all over the ceiling and walls (I’m speaking from experience…). In any case, there is never any need to really crank down on your brew keg lid. As long as the threads catch, you’re good to go. To help with your grieving process, we’d like to offer you a new keg. Call us at 1-800-852-4263 and we’ll get you set up. Cheers!Eric GreeneBrewmaster w/ Mr.Beer

  2. Thanks for the offer, Eric, but it’s not necessary in this case. That happened over two years ago, and I’ve got two Mr. Beer kegs now, along with some more standard home brewing equipment. I still use the Mr. Beer kegs for small batches, and they work great, as long as you don’t overtighten the lid. 🙂

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