Sometime in November: Even though I have made a very nice orange honey ale in the past for a seasonal Christmas brew, last year I felt it was time to change my recipe. Not knowing at the time that this batch would soon come to be known as the “Hades Holiday Brew,” I formulated what I thought to be a killer spicy winter brew and went out and bought the ingredients.
November 20: During the brewing of this particular batch everything went smoothly, and the final product was encouraging. However, it was at this point that the beer metamorphosed into some sort of evil entity.
November 29: After setting up all the necessary equipment to bottle, I carried the carboy out to the back porch to transfer the beer. When I carefully set down the carboy on the deck, the glass exploded. In a matter of seconds the batch of beer I diligently prepared for hours was gone and I was left holding the handle in complete disbelief.
My wife witnessed the event and, as she rushed to the back porch holding back her laughter, she asked what happened (even though the only thing that was on her mind was that she was glad this didn’t happen in the kitchen). I thought it was a crack in the carboy, but I later found out it was the “evil beer spirits.”
December 5: Being foolish, stubborn, and fearful of not having a holiday brew, I decided to attempt this batch again. I bought all of the ingredients and was determined to make a great beer. The brewing went off without a hitch, and I put the beer in my extra carboy to ferment.
December 13: After waiting for fermentation to end, I decided to bottle the batch. I carefully moved the carboy out back to siphon with no problems. I bottled half the batch and put the other half in two five-liter kegs (the plan was to drink the keg on Christmas). The mischievous spirits lay dormant on this day.
Week of December 13 to 20: While going to work out in my basement one day I noticed broken glass all over the floor. Since my “brewery” is under the stairs and connected to the workout room, I knew where the glass came from. I then noticed that the floor was dripping wet. Several bottles of beer had exploded, and glass was everywhere. I also observed that the kegs were warped and looked as if they were ready to explode. I cleaned up and sealed the case where I had stored the rest of the bottles so that the glass would not fly across the room.
December 20: Since I figured that this batch was a bust, I decided to tap one of the kegs so I could at least drink some of the beer. Prepared for the worst, I took the keg outside on the grass. I slowly tapped the keg and a great burst of pressure and foam was released for about a second and then stopped. I thought to myself that wasn’t so bad.
I bent down to place the tap and was slapped in the face with a stream of foam and beer. I stepped back and saw a flow of beer shoot about 10 feet in the air for about
20 seconds. When this subsided I went to tap the disfigured keg and, of course, I tried the beer. It was much better than I thought it would be. It was a little flat, but I could just tell people it was a “cask conditioned” ale.
However, this was not the last “evil” event of the day. While watching television that night, my wife and I heard a loud crash in the kitchen. We both went to see what happened, and we discovered that another bottle of beer had exploded all over the kitchen (I put one bottle of beer per batch in my showcase in the kitchen). While cleaning up we both discovered what a large mess 12 ounces of beer can make.
To this day I have no idea what caused such pressure in the bottle, kegs, and carboy. It could have been a bad strain of yeast, too much carbonation, or a chemical reaction (if fermentation had not ended). All of those explanations would seem reasonable, but I still think some evil fiend possessed my beer. Maybe Agents Scully and Mulder should be called upon to better investigate the situation.