John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
"One piece of glass flew into someone's open mouth," reports a man attacked by beer.
A man recently took a trip with his buddies to Oregon's Mount Hood. Because no cabin outing is complete without alcohol, he carried with him several types of suds, including a six-pack of 10 Barrel Brewing Company's seasonal fruit beer, "Swill."
The 6 pack of Swill [was] just sitting on the coffee table and untouched when one of the bottles just exploded, shattering glass everywhere in the room. Some of my friends were struck so hard that the pieces of glass left small welts on them. One piece of glass flew into someones open mouth, luckily they were able to get it out. It was a pretty scary event that happened out of no where.
Looking back on his surprise attack, the dude speculates that something about the mountain's higher elevation caused the bottle to go off like a grenade. Other people joined in with their own tales of beery mayhem. "I was at my local beer store and I was told that Swill had to be pulled off the floor, because some bottles had started to explode, causing a big mess and shards of glass everywhere," says one, who guesses that it might have been to due with them sitting in the sun. Reports another Swill drinker:
Over the weekend had a gusher of a bottle...no exploding glass, but even tipping it to take a drink, after sitting opened for a bit, resulted in a mouth explosion of bubbles. Was good for a laugh when it foamed out of one female attendee's nose. She didn't find it quite as humorous however.
The mystery of the explosive beer was solved late last week, however, when 10 Barrel issued a recall notice for Swill and another product, Cherry Tart. The problem: They were made using a "unique and specific enzyme" to break down starch and catalyze early fermentation. This enzyme supercharged these processes so much that the beer experienced secondary fermentation, leading to dangerous buildups of carbonation in some of the bottles.
The brewery then issued recommendations for clearing your house of Swill that read like something from the police bomb-unit handbook:
Consumers: if you have any Swill in your home, please do not open it, attempt to transport it, or return it to your retail store. Dispose of the product by following these steps: (i) Before disposing of any bottles of Swill, please put on protective gloves and eye wear; (ii) Place all remaining Swill bottles in a closed box and place immediately in a secured dumpster or trash container outside.
There haven't been any media reports of injuries or lawsuits, so it looks like 10 Barrel's in the clear for now. The brewery says on its Facebook page to forget about Swill, because they "have an amazing completely new beer coming out in a few weeks" that spits out geysers of flame while rocketing around your house. (Just kidding, I'm sure it will be fine.)