Warning: this beer may explode

A new trend among American craft breweries is proving risky

Handle with care: “Must remain cold at all times” is written on a can of beer made by New Jersey’s Magnify Brewery. Disregard that warning at your peril.

Handle with care: “Must remain cold at all times” is written on a can of beer made by New Jersey’s Magnify Brewery. Disregard that warning at your peril.

 

Stories about beer cans exploding have been doing the rounds over the past few months, particularly in the US, where some products now come with warnings that “refermentation may occur”.  

It’s all part of a risky new trend in craft beer. As the obsession with fruity beers continues, some breweries have started adding puree after the brewing process has been completed to maximise fruit flavour. Like milk – which starts to bulge in the carton if kept out of the fridge for long – these particular kinds of fruit beers need to be kept cold or the sugar in the puree will restart fermentation, overcarbonating the beer and rupturing the can.

“Must remain cold at all times” is written on a can of beer made by New Jersey’s Magnify Brewery. The beer, which also comes with a “requires responsibility” warning, is a fruit gose called Trade Proof with a label of a ticking time bomb.

There’s other, more unintended reasons, however, why a can of beer can explode. Philip Woodnutt, who runs a quality-control laboratory for Irish microbreweries as part of the Wicklow Hops Company in Newcastle, says the use of wild yeasts can expose breweries to infections. These unpredictable yeasts – like the one used for making Saison beer – can spread to other beers using the same canning or bottling line in a brewery, “waking up” after packaging and starting to referment beer, particularly if they’re kept on a shelf instead of cold storage.

“Most of these beers don’t usually reach the consumer,” says Woodnutt, who adds that many Irish breweries are becoming more wise to the risks of wild yeasts. “Breweries have really improved their yeast-handling skills.”

Who knows if the new dangerously fruity beer styles will come to these shores from the US but it’s always a good idea to keep beers chilled and to check the best-before date – fresher is always better.   

@ITbeerista beerista@irishtimes.com

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.