A Homebrewing Riddle - The damaged Glass Carboy

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Beerontwowheels, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. Here's a homebrewing riddle. Let's see what the BA Homebrewing community conjures up in terms of remedies....

    I had an unusual accident yesterday with a full 6.5 gallon glass carboy. Here's the background...looking for advice (besides switching to buckets, :cool:) .

    I brewed a RIS on Sunday afternoon and had the carboy in the chest freezer to keep ferm temps steady around 65 (WL002). Yesterday, I was moving a few of my nicer commercial beers into the chest freezer as it's a more stable environment than the kitchen cabinet in terms of storage (& there's extra space available as only 1 carboy is in there right now).

    Well, I was moving a little too fast, must have been a little clumsy, because one of the bottles lightly dinged the carboy full of fermenting RIS. The ding between the bottle and carboy busted some glass, but only chipped out a 1"x2" piece of glass (just below the 'shoulder' of the carboy). The glass chip fell right beside the carboy and because the glass was colored brown (covered in trub/yeast), I immediately thought, shit, this bottle of nice beer just broke. Nope. No beer runneth from the bottle. It took a moment for me to realize that I just took a chunk of glass right out of the carboy, but the carboy didn't shatter completely (the hole is above the wort). So, with a gaping hole in the carboy, I went into emergency mode and grabbed some saran wrap to cover the hole.

    I'm concerned about a few things, and this is where I need assistance:

    A) Oxidation - Saran wrap won't serve much purpose besides keeping most bacteria/dust/etc. out. Oxygen is going to get in.

    B) Figuring out how & when to transfer the wort from the damaged carboy to a new carboy.

    Here's where my head is at right now:

    Problem #1
    The carboy does not have a brew hauler on it. I'm afraid that if I try and lift it out of the chest freezer, the carboy will crack under stress, explode, seriously cut me up & least importantly, cover the chamber in 10% RIS and make a 'bloody' mess. (pun intended).

    Resolution #1
    I'm thinking I can wrap copious amounts of tape around the carboy as I've heard people do this anyway to protect against shattering glass. Since this carboy is being disposed of anyway, I'll use some heavy duty duct tape. Once the carboy is out of the freezer, I can siphon into a new carboy. Sound legit?

    Resolution #2
    Use my March pump to move the beer from the damaged carboy into a new carboy. This eliminates the need to move the full, heavy & damaged carboy. Should lessen the risk of injury.​

    Resolution #2 carries with it a complication, though: without lifting the carboy out of the freezer, I won't have gravity on my side for priming the pump or siphoning. I'd have to figure a way to fill the hose with liquid, lower the hose into the carboy and start the pump without losing that priming potential.​

    Problem #2
    Moving the beer too early.

    I'm afraid of oxidation, but I'm also concerned about moving the beer too early. I want the yeasties to have a chance to clean up after themselves. We've only been visibly fermenting for about 60 hours (pitched about 72 hours ago). I think there should still be enough yeast in suspension, so maybe this is less of a concern.

    How & when would you recommend moving this fermenting beer from the damaged carboy to a new carboy?
     
  2. kbuzz

    kbuzz Champion (755) Pennsylvania Jan 22, 2011

    I don't know that I'd seriously consider resolution #1 just out of pure fear.

    Any chance you have a buddy w/ a self-priming pump? I'd imagine you don't or I'd have heard of him by now...;)
     
  3. I'd get all geared up, you know, kitchen mitts, prison-style protective vest using my wife's fashion magazines (would never use my back issues of Zymurgy!), sunglasses, etc. :p
     
    kbuzz likes this.
  4. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (855) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    I like your resolution #2. I would want to move the beer out now, without moving the carboy. Move as much yeast as you can too.

    But...how did you plan to move the full carboy even if it had not broken? Any full carboy (either in fermentation or in cleaning) that will have to be moved while full should have a brewhauler under it. No exceptions (IMO). Hell, I don't usually even move empty carboys without a brewhauler.
    </lecture>
     
    nickfl likes this.
  5. twenty5

    twenty5 Savant (400) Pennsylvania May 15, 2010

    I would check the gravity on it right now, if you still have a ways to go then I wouldnt be concerned with oxidation. Just siphon from carboy to better bottle or bucket without moving the glass carboy then dump the yeast cake in. If the beer is almost finished, I would tape it up and let it finish (2-3 weeks) before transferring it to secondary or a bottling bucket depending on your next step./
     
  6. sjverla

    sjverla Advocate (560) Massachusetts Dec 1, 2008 Verified

    In terms of priming *(caveat: I've never used/owned a pump), I start my syphon when transferring by submerging my 3/8" tubing entirely in my sanitizer bucket since I have 2.5 gal. in a 5 gal. bucket. I hold onto each end and once it's mostly full I cover each opening with a thumb. Attaching it to the racking cane is a bit tricky but I'm able to do it solo, just make sure you keep the plugged end lower than the racking cane. Once attached, let go and the wort will follow.

    Good luck with your conundrum...
     
  7. kbuzz

    kbuzz Champion (755) Pennsylvania Jan 22, 2011

    as a side note...of all styles out there, a touch of oxidation in a RIS isn't the worst thing in the world...an excerpt from a blog I read from time to time: http://definitionale.com/beer-foam-matter-in-a-quick-word/

    "It is worth noting that slow and controlled oxidation of specific styles of beer can lead to very desirable and delicious flavors like sherry, port, and sweet leather. A vintage bottle of British Barleyine or Russian Imperial Stout is a good candidate for positive oxidation..."

    Resolution #3: let it ride...
     
  8. PortLargo

    PortLargo Advocate (540) Florida Oct 19, 2012 Verified

    KISS. I would manually pump the beer from the carboy to bucket. Use your auto-siphon, there will be no automatic flow because your bucket will be at the same height (or above). But about 300 (?) strokes on the auto-siphon will move it with as little oxidation as if you were transferring to a secondary. If you're worried about enough yeast you can stir things up with your siphon tip.
     
  9. Pegli

    Pegli Savant (315) Rhode Island Aug 30, 2006

    Lift your whole chest feezer up to gain some potential energy for the siphon.
     
    warchez, ShawDeuce22, Skrypt and 5 others like this.
  10. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (855) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    Heh. Not to mention potential energy for the freezer.
     
  11. From a safety standpoint, you're absolutely right. Why doesn't it have a brew-hauler - well, my blow-off tube blew off since I forgot to remove the cross hatches on the airlock. You know the rest of this story...trub blocked up the airlock, airlock went soaring...

    I spent an hour Monday morning cleanning the chest freezer. I took the brewhauler off and threw it in the washer as it was caked up with trub/yeast/wort. I didn't have an extra brewhauler, so I lifted and lowered the carboy back into the freezer very carefully.

    I'll be taking a gravity reading tonight. Still hesitant to leave it in the carboy with only the saran wrap guarding it.

    I usually adhere to the KISS mentality. I guess I didn't consider this as I thought it would oxygenate the hell out of the beer. You think this will move the beer without over-oxygenating it? I like it as it eliminates any risk of injury & gets the beer/wort to new carboy. It requires a ton of pumping, but I don't have to toy with trying to prime my pump without gravity. Might give this a go tonight. Stirring up the yeast with the racking cane should get enough yeast into the new carboy.
     
  12. Now we are really thinking outside the box. I fuckin' love you guys!
     
  13. Pegli

    Pegli Savant (315) Rhode Island Aug 30, 2006

    He's got a trained bear...
     
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  14. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Moderator (650) Oregon Aug 25, 2009 Staff Member Verified Subscriber

    If you keg, grab a carboy cap, racking cane, and your CO2 tank (if you don't, get someone from your brew club to bring the CO2 tank). Put a brewhauler on another carboy or Better Bottle, put it into the chest freezer next to the broken fermenter. Tape that hole shut as tight as possible. Insert the racking cane in the carboy cap and connect the CO2 line to it as well. After sanitizing, attach to broken carboy, put racking cane to the bottom, set PSI on CO2 tank to about 3-5, swirl racking cane around the bottom to mix up as much yeast as possible, let the CO2 pressure force the beer into the second fermenter, but have the lid closed so if the pressure causes that crack to blow out the glass is contained. Next step, remove empty carboy and dispose of it. Final step, replace carboys with Better Bottles (you said no switching to buckets advice, so no buckets.) If you want more info on it, I use this set up for transferring so I don't have to lift/move the beer before racking and disturb all the yeast and trub. Here's my right up on it. Hope it helps.
     
  15. NiceFly

    NiceFly Savant (395) Tajikistan Dec 22, 2011

    I would not give oxidation a second thought 60 hours into fermentation.

    I would transfer as soon as possible. Can you prime the pump by using the outflow like a straw? I don't know I don't have a pump just thinking out loud.
     
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  16. dbc5

    dbc5 Advocate (535) Ohio Jun 18, 2009 Verified

    Are you absolutely positive no glass ended up inside of the beer? It sounds like the main piece fell to the outside, but I would be concerned that smaller pieces might have fallen inside. The risk of someone swallowing a shard of glass may not be worth what you've invested in the stout.
     
    cavedave likes this.
  17. By the end of tonight we will all know how many pumps it takes to get to the end of a 6 gallon carboy. Wish me luck. Will have to come up with an appropriate name for this beer.
     
    NiceFly likes this.
  18. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (920) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member Verified Subscriber

    Do you have a brew hauler?

    You can pretty much rock the carboy around enough to get it under and around the bottle and pick up then.. Or get a milk crate and lift into the milk crate and pull it from the freezer.

    I'd honestly stir up the beer with my siphon and siphon it out somehow, even if you have to pump the siphon a million times to push the beer into another carboy.

    I'd also see if the chip from the carboy fits where it came from and look to see if there's any glass still missing that could have gone into the beer.
     
  19. To limit my liability, I'll drink the whole batch myself.
     
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  20. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Moderator (650) Oregon Aug 25, 2009 Staff Member Verified Subscriber


    Shard & Syphon Stout
     
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  21. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (855) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    Would you really try to move an already broken carboy?
     
  22. Ok - well, I managed to siphon the entire contents to a new carboy and all is well, for now. I lost track of how many pumps it took, but that shit was no joke. Got a good mixture of trub/yeast in there so I'm staying positive that the yeast that transferred over will clean up the mess they possible made over the last 24-48 hours.

    I'll be honest and say that i'm not too worried about glass. I plan on aging this beer a minimum of 2 more weeks in primary, 2-3 months in secondary (adding either coffee or vanilla beans), and then a few weeks in bottles. At that point, all glass will hopefully have precipitated out at that point. I'll be mindful when transferring to seconday and mindful when pour into a glass. I think it will be fine.
     
    NiceFly likes this.
  23. Trying to upload a picture. New phone doesn't have flickr loaded onto it yet so I'm trying to use another service.
     
  24. Gritsak

    Gritsak Savant (395) West Virginia Jan 22, 2004

    A brewhauler won't prevent the broken glass from collapsing inward. Your only option IMO it so siphon/pump the beer out ASAP. As others have said, you don't really need to be worried about oxidation at this point--there should be a enough fermentation still going on to use up whatever small amount of o2 gets in from transferring the beer.
     
  25. Done and done.
     
  26. TheMonkfish

    TheMonkfish Initiate (0) Chad Jan 8, 2012


    This is what I'd do. In the event that any glass shards are in there I'd consider putting a muslin bag, paint strainer, etc around the intake of the auto siphon after fermentation is complete/when transferring to bottling bucket or keg.
     
    Beerontwowheels likes this.
  27. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  28. Thanks for everyone's input. Not a situation I've encountered before but you guys helped me through it. Kudos!
     
  29. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (920) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member Verified Subscriber

    Sure. If I had, which I do, a brew hauler, I would fit that around the carboy. I wouldn't be picking it up by hand to get it around it and under it.

    I'd then lift it into a milk crate to pull it out. I wouldn't be putting any pressure on the neck of it where it was cracked anyways. If it were to shatter in transit, I wouldn't have my hands on it.
     
  30. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (470) Indiana Sep 25, 2008


    Edit: If it were me, I'd give up on the beer. I would worry too much about glass being in the final product. It wouldn't be worth it to me. If, if capital IF I were going to drink this, I wouldn't rack the bottom 3 quarts and would stay the hell away from the bottom of your secondary when racking. A coffee filter might enter the equation on the bottom of the siphon hose with a rubber band.
     
    mcc1654 likes this.
  31. I will probably use some type of filtration (heard pantyhose work well) when racking the beer. If I filter when moving to secondary and when moving to the bottling bucket I imagine it should be glass free.

    Thanks to brees6221, my spiritual advisor, for posting pictures.
     
  32. premierpro

    premierpro Savant (350) Michigan Mar 21, 2009

    Buy a roll of duct tape and wrap the hell out of your carboy. Let the beer finish as planed and use a good filter when you transfer. Good luck!
     
  33. BiereBlanche

    BiereBlanche Savant (305) Colorado Nov 15, 2007

    That's a big chunk of glass missing from the pic - I'd be worried about the small shards, too.

    A) You may throw some gelatin in. Obviously it won't attract glass, but it may help any shards that do precipitate to the bottom stay there while you rack.

    B) Wear some shoes and cover up next time you mess with an already broken glass carboy.

    C) Milk Crate under any glass carboy. In working at a homebrew store I've heard of Brewhaulers slipping/ ripping and carboys breaking.
     
  34. +1 to the comment of: “Wear some shoes and cover up next time you mess with an already broken glass carboy.”

    I personally only utilize carboys for my lagers (for lagering). When I am dealing with the carboy I take precautions: wear gloves, wear steel tipped boots, use milk crates, etc.

    I have read many scary stories about carboys breaking; the most interesting/disturbing one was provided by barfdiggs: “I decided to switch when I was looking at a carboy that was drying, and all of the sudden it literally just shattered. No more glass.”

    I recognize that the OP posted: “looking for advice (besides switching to buckets)”. I would feel remiss if I didn’t state: you really should switch to buckets. You were lucky this time around (no injuries, no loss of beer). Plastic buckets (or Better Bottles) are really the way to go.

    Cheers!.
     
  35. I appreciate everyone's concern re: glass/injury/proper clothing, etc. Will be sure to wear more appropriate clothing as you never know what could happen.

    I'll probably replace this carboy with a better bottle. I'll just have to keep my sour carboys clearly labeled from my non-sour carboys. I didn't have to worry about separating the two with glass carboys, but that convenience is almost certainly outweighed by the chance for serious injury.
     
  36. quirkzoo

    quirkzoo Initiate (0) Colorado Jul 7, 2011

    Too late this time, but next time, you could just siphon it into a low tray for the coolship effect and have a nice wild RIS. That way you wouldn't have to worry about lifting the carboy out of the fridge.

    [​IMG]
     
  37. trxxpaxxs

    trxxpaxxs Champion (805) New York Mar 5, 2010 Verified

    Agreed. Fully.
     
  38. 46and2

    46and2 Aficionado (220) Minnesota Mar 28, 2008



    Good call. 12 GA pellets won't go through a USAToday Suit from the tower, but .223 will. You should be safe with a carboy transfer :p
     
  39. Well, I promised an update.

    For as dramatic a beginning as this beer had, it had to have a stellar ending. I added 4oz of cacao nibs, 8oz of bourbon that contained 2 vanilla beans and 5oz of oak from black swan (tincture aged for @ 6 months) on 8/30. On 9/14 I added 8 sliced habaneros and on 9/15vi kegged the stout and added some cold steeped guatemalancoffee. The beer is slumbering away at 40* with 9psi. Should be ready for drinking in another week (2 weeks on the gas). Tastes great!

    I racked to secondary using a paint strainer bag and did the same when racking to the keg. The beer had three months to precipitate out any glass and the paint strainer bags would have caught any loose shards as well.

    All's well that ends well.

    Thanks again for everyone's assistance.
     
    cavedave likes this.
  40. koopa

    koopa Champion (835) New Jersey Apr 20, 2008

    So was the beer only on the 8 habaneros for a day then?

    I made a habanero tincture with 2 medium sized hab's that I deseeded and deveined first (taking out lots of the potential heat). I added all of the tincture to a 3g keg of imperial porter and it had a solid kick. Couldn't drink more than 22oz of that beer in a session. Then again stronger alcohol tinctures extract better than lower abv beer itself does.....