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View Full Version : I just took MEA to an entirely new level...



Echostatic
04-15-2011, 01:34 AM
An unfortunate freak accident caused what must have been one of the biggest MEAs ever tonight, leaving the bar and myself covered in mead.

I figured out what happened. Today I topped it up with water. However, being the newb that I am, I overfilled it. It foamed into the S style airlock and started oozing out. What I didn't notice was that a raisin happened to get positioned just right so that it blocked the airlock. The pressure built high enough to force it into the first water chamber, then into the second. It pushed it all the way to the final narrow part of the airlock where it stayed. The pressure behind it built up quite a bit.

I, of course, did not know this at the time. Thinking I could simply remove, clean, refill and replace the airlock after lowering the must level, I grabbed the bung and pulled.

...Now friends, I think we can all imagine what happens when something under high pressure suffers a rapid pressure drop. It vents very quickly. That mead shot out of the carboy like a volcano erupting. It went *everywhere*. All over the bar surfaces, the floor, into the living room and, of course, all over me.

Now this was bad enough, but have any of you seen what a raspberry fruit cap looks like when it needs to be swirled back into the must? With all the seeds and brownish smashed fruit, it looks just like hamburger meat. Now do you know what this looks like spewing out of a carboy? Exactly like projectile vomiting.

I still can't get that raisin out of the airlock, no matter how hard I blow. I'm going to take an air compressor to it.

Short version, my mead got sick and threw up all over me.

wayneb
04-15-2011, 01:35 AM
Welcome to our exclusive (well, maybe not so exclusive) club! ;)

Echostatic
04-15-2011, 01:39 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v252/echostatic/070334ca.jpg

There's a photo of some of the damage. Cleanup sure was fun!

Chevette Girl
04-15-2011, 01:40 AM
Short version, my mead got sick and threw up all over me.

You have been anointed. :)

icedmetal
04-15-2011, 01:55 AM
Word of advice: don't primary in glass. If you do, don't use fruit. Yeast love fruit and love to clog airlocks when headspace is tight.

This might make you feel slightly better:
http://public.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pdIEmO90H65y7Ak2KjCfWLVRy2VSqZ95qipMR9_c6Si4Ihne sxtvl9SGIMkyTTwraVQgJBcVgHVdiaQyMnCY5Lw/strawberrymess.jpg?psid=1

Had to remove the carpet and repaint the room. ;D

wildoates
04-15-2011, 02:09 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v252/echostatic/070334ca.jpg

There's a photo of some of the damage. Cleanup sure was fun!

That is an outstanding MEA event, sir (or madam). Well done, I applaud you!

If you're going to do a thing, don't do it halfheartedly, give it all you've got!

Echostatic
04-15-2011, 02:30 AM
Word of advice: don't primary in glass. If you do, don't use fruit. Yeast love fruit and love to clog airlocks when headspace is tight.

This might make you feel slightly better:
http://public.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pdIEmO90H65y7Ak2KjCfWLVRy2VSqZ95qipMR9_c6Si4Ihne sxtvl9SGIMkyTTwraVQgJBcVgHVdiaQyMnCY5Lw/strawberrymess.jpg?psid=1

Had to remove the carpet and repaint the room. ;D

Nice! Man that's really something. At least it wasn't *that* bad... Live and learn I suppose?

Medsen Fey
04-15-2011, 09:47 AM
Your brothers and sisters in M.E.A.D.S. (Mead Eruption Accident Decrement Society) are here for you. We applaud you for having the courage to acknowledge that you have a problem. That's the first step.

We'll be passing around the hat to raise funds to purchase you a primary bucket.

MEAs are a preventable tragedy. :)

schlapppy
04-15-2011, 10:14 AM
This thread made me laugh out loud at work. :laughing5:

LOL, thanks for sharing

wildoates
04-15-2011, 10:16 AM
I haven't done something completely boneheaded yet (pure luck), but rest assured that when I do, I'll write about it here. :)

THawk
04-15-2011, 10:56 AM
Ouch!

Coincidentally, I had an MEA-like accident last night, though it wasn't as catastrophic as that.

My first-ever batch is a JAO variant (well, it's from the stormthecastle site and very similar to the JAO). I had racked into a gallon jar, but discovered I had too much headspace (the jar came up to a little over 2/3 full). I moved the liquid into 2 1-liter and 2 500ml plastic water bottles (having nothing else at that time). As an experiment, I added honey to one of the liter bottles (no, I didn't stabilize, not knowing any better). But as there was no bubbling, I figured that fermentation wasn't taking place.

Last night, I checked my batch again. The bottle was hard so I opened it and sure enough, air hissed out. Hence, fermentation DID restart, though not as violently as before. Then I noticed that the honey had separated and was sitting at the bottom of the bottle.

What did I do? I shook it, of course... :eek:

The effect was similar to taking a 1-liter bottle of coca-cola, shaking it, then opening it. My eyes bugged out as I saw this huge mass of bubbles rise to the top. There was no headspace so I cracked the bottle. Thankfully I was over the sink so it wasn't a geyser inside the house... Luckily I didn't decide to leave it overnight -- or the bottle may very well have exploded...

Chevette Girl
04-15-2011, 11:02 AM
That sounds similar to my first experimentation, backsweetening without stabilization, only it was wild grape wine... and I'm sure there's still a purple blotch on the ceiling of my old apartment kitchen... I never found the cork...

THawk
04-15-2011, 11:10 AM
Word of advice: don't primary in glass. If you do, don't use fruit. Yeast love fruit and love to clog airlocks when headspace is tight.

Had to remove the carpet and repaint the room. ;D

Didn't that start to stink after awhile?

Speaking of which -- what SHOULD you do if you end up with a raisin lodged that far into the airlock? Obviously you don't pull the stopper out, but how do you relieve the pressure? Or is it just have the mop ready?

Chevette Girl
04-15-2011, 11:57 AM
Raisin in the S-type airlock, huh... a couple thoughts, but most of them don't involve being able to get it back into immediate use...

see if you can thread a pipecleaner through to poke it the rest of the way up (or down back into the chamber, keep it sulphited and it might still be useful even with the raisin in it)?

soak it in hot water so it softens?

dry it so it shrinks?

ferment it so it falls apart? would pectinase help it break down? would freezing it?

Echostatic
04-15-2011, 11:58 AM
What I should have done was take it outside onto the driveway, hit it with floodlights and yank the bung with a camera recording. Easy cleanup and good footage!

So stirring honey in to backsweeten can cause an MEA? How does that happen?

Echostatic
04-15-2011, 12:00 PM
Raisin in the S-type airlock, huh... a couple thoughts, but most of them don't involve being able to get it back into immediate use...

see if you can thread a pipecleaner through to poke it the rest of the way up (or down back into the chamber, keep it sulphited and it might still be useful even with the raisin in it)?

soak it in hot water so it softens?

dry it so it shrinks?

ferment it so it falls apart? would pectinase help it break down? would freezing it?


I have a much faster, easier (and probably more fun) idea, and it simply involves sticking a high pressure air hose to one end and hopefully turning the airlock into a crude projectile weapon.

THawk
04-15-2011, 12:20 PM
So stirring honey in to backsweeten can cause an MEA? How does that happen?

I didn't stabilize or add sorbate before adding the honey so the yeast was still "live"...

I noticed some honey at the bottom of the bottle. For some unknown reason, I decided to mix the honey by shaking the bottle... it wasn't an MEA like yours -- but it did have the effect of a shaken soda bottle (big mass of bubbles rushes to the surface... when you crack the top it sprays all over) :)

THawk
04-15-2011, 12:25 PM
Raisin in the S-type airlock

Can you open the top of the airlock? If so, try to cut the raisin up with an exacto knife or a scalpel then try to flush it out?

Take a pic of the airlock and post it as a trophy first, though ;)

Echostatic
04-15-2011, 12:32 PM
I'm gonna try my "airlock gun" idea first, an exacto knife is too big to get in there. I could probably get at it with a toothpick maybe... But good idea, need to take a picture when I get home. I hope those stains come out of my bathtowels.

I had a more traditional JAO I topped up too much at the same time and it filled the airlock. There was no dramatic explosion, but I was able to use my spiffy new carboy cap to siphon some liquid off. I tell ya, starting a siphon by simply blowing into the cap is really nice and easy!

Chevette Girl
04-15-2011, 03:27 PM
So stirring honey in to backsweeten can cause an MEA? How does that happen?

A lot of times, adding ANYTHING, especially a powder, to a vigorous ferment can cause a sudden release of CO2, like the Mentos & diet Coke reaction, and why it's suggested that when adding nutrients to add. However, what I did by backsweetening without stabilizing was to prime a bottle bomb, so technically mine wasn't a MEA. Fortunately the cork gave before the bottle did, but it was pretty messy nonetheless.

Chevette Girl
04-15-2011, 03:31 PM
I'm gonna try my "airlock gun" idea first, an exacto knife is too big to get in there. I could probably get at it with a toothpick maybe... But good idea, need to take a picture when I get home. I hope those stains come out of my bathtowels.

I had a more traditional JAO I topped up too much at the same time and it filled the airlock. There was no dramatic explosion, but I was able to use my spiffy new carboy cap to siphon some liquid off. I tell ya, starting a siphon by simply blowing into the cap is really nice and easy!

Wear safety eyewear before you do that, just in case the airlock blows before the raisin does!

Oxy-clean soak and then cold water... it's about all I know for stains...

And I think the raisin caused the explosion, if it hadn't gotten stuck, the goo would have settled for oozing out the airlock and down the side of hte carboy instead of building up pressure like it did with the raisin blockage.

Braxton
04-15-2011, 04:36 PM
Ouch. My own experience with this- getting literally shot in the face with mushed up pellet hops from a high gravity stout, having to clean the ceiling and surrounding area for hours- is now funny in retrospect. I can only hope that you will also be able to find the humor some years from now as I did. Also, I consider myself lucky after standing next to a giant glass carboy stretched to it's pressure limits and coming away uninjured.

Echostatic
04-15-2011, 06:10 PM
I think it's funny now. Yeah the raisin definitely plugged it up. I'm just glad everything is back to normal and my meads are safe and sound again.

Bottles exploding without stabilizing... Bit off topic, but I read stabilizers can add unfavorable tastes to mead, which become more pronounced over time. Is this true? I'm on the fence about using them, but I want to save some bottles from this next batch for several years without risking anything.

akueck
04-16-2011, 02:28 AM
And I think the raisin caused the explosion, if it hadn't gotten stuck, the goo would have settled for oozing out the airlock and down the side of hte carboy instead of building up pressure like it did with the raisin blockage.

Yeah I've had many things ooze through the airlock in a nice brown sludge all over. Only one has blown up on me (fruit added to secondary), that was a fun day.

Stabilizing chemicals (sulfite plus sorbate is the common combo) should not leave a taste if used properly. Properly means in the appropriate concentrations and used together. Using just one or the other can lead to problems.

Echostatic
04-16-2011, 05:45 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v252/echostatic/db289d59.jpg

There's the trouble raisin. I took an air compressor to the bottom of the airlock. No idea where that raisin went... It travelled pretty far.

wildoates
04-17-2011, 01:08 AM
Bwahahahahahaah!

dave_witt
04-19-2011, 04:59 PM
That is quite amazing. :-)

Medsen Fey
04-22-2011, 09:08 AM
MEAs are a preventable tragedy. :)

Famous last words....

I've been having some "issues" with a batch (Filleul du le Dégel (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17879&highlight=filleul) in the Patron's Brewlogs) but gave it some more honey and nutrient yesterday. There's about 9.5 gallons in a 10-gallon Corny keg. I opened the pressure release valve on top to vent it this morning and it hissed and released a lot of pressure and then continued to slowly hiss as CO2 was escaping from the valve as I left it open. However, the sudden decompression apparently allowed a lot of foam to come up, and while I was looking the other way the sound of the hissing started to change (like when you are filling up a milk jug with water and it starts to get close to the top).

Well, when a full keg that's saturated with CO2 decides to shoot through a tiny pressure relief valve, it act something like a sprinkler head. :eek:

There was stinky red mead sprayed within a radius of about 4-5 feet, covering everything including my face and chest. :(

I flipped the valve closed, and rigged up a blow-off tube, but needless to say, Little Wifey is not pleased. Looks live I've done it again...

mmclean
04-22-2011, 10:11 AM
What, no pictures...man.

wayneb
04-22-2011, 10:55 AM
What, no pictures...man.

My thoughts, exactly! This is worth preserving as a visual artifact for the ages!! ;)

wildoates
04-23-2011, 12:22 AM
Absent photo documentation--but with a very vivid imagination--I am laughing out loud anyway. :)

Chevette Girl
04-23-2011, 11:53 AM
I too am laughing out loud in that, "Oh, no!" kind of way... happy cleanup, Medsen... :(

icedmetal
04-23-2011, 01:26 PM
Woohoo, now I'm not the only one to have been bitten by the over-pressurized over-full corny! ;D Mine was blueberry melomel, hope your cleanup was short and thorough.

Echostatic
04-24-2011, 04:50 PM
Definitely changes I decide to keep my fermenting mead! Hard surfaces only, always a towel in reach to cover it should things head south.

TheAlchemist
04-29-2011, 10:44 AM
Famous last words....Looks live I've done it again...

Ha! Sounds like a "MEA culpa" to me!

Bring on the photos!

GntlKnigt1
12-16-2013, 03:33 AM
This thread made me laugh out loud at work. :laughing5:

LOL, thanks for sharing

Just read this thread (again).... needed the laugh,

WVMJack
12-16-2013, 04:01 AM
Ultimate MEA level is did you get any on your ceiling? One hint nobody has told you yet is to get some bigger buckets so you have some room under the lid for the primary fermentation, and you dont need an airlock in your primary, just a cloth to keep bugs out. Oak chips can also do the same thing when you start adding oak to your meads. Yes, I do have stains on the ceiling, I visited a professional cider maker and he has a dent in his ceiling, now that is something to show people :) WVMJ

GntlKnigt1
12-16-2013, 04:20 AM
A dent in the ceiling? Now THAT is impressive !!!

Sent from my HTC Vision using Tapatalk 2

Echostatic
12-17-2013, 02:18 AM
Hopefully I will never dent a ceiling... No other incidents so far :D