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I'm tired of smelling like an alcoholic when the floor drank all my beer
June 20, 2011 11:21 PM   Subscribe

Why are our beers overflowing inexplicably?

So we keep our beers in a mini fridge and occasionally, and it seems to happen in trends, they will suddenly overflow when opened. These are all store bought beers, seems to happen with any brand. It does not happen if they've only been in there an hour or so, so I don't think it's just that they got jumbled around in the car or in the process of shoving them in the fridge. As far as I know it has never happened with cans, only bottles. The weird thing is that it doesn't happen with the beers closest to the tiny freezer area and the beers are definitely not frozen or close to it. We have tried turning the temp down with no improvement. Please help the floor is getting very sticky!!
posted by boobjob to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Seems to me like the bottle has to be getting hit with something to make it overflow. Sort of like the trick where you tap the top of an open bottle with another bottle to make it overflow. Something else is probably creating that frequency in the glass.
posted by zephyr_words at 11:54 PM on June 20, 2011


Sounds like the fridge is just not getting cold enough, which seems likely with a mini fridge as they're not the most reliable of appliances. Have you checked the actual temperature it is inside? (rather than the temperature setting, which based on my experience with mini fridges is likely to overestimate the fridge's ability to make things cold)

This would explain why it happens in trends and why it doesn't happen to the bottles closest to the freezer, where it's probably colder.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 11:56 PM on June 20, 2011


Perhaps it's a cheap fridge that vibrates a bit and/or is not level? I also second the above remark concerning the temperature. The seal may not be holding as well. An easy fix is to open the beer over a sink and pour it into a glass.
posted by converge at 12:15 AM on June 21, 2011


This sort of thing also happens with sparkling wines. Basically, it was bottled at a much lower temperature. When the beer warmed up, the gas in the beer couldn't expand as the bottle is rigid, but the pressure certainly increased. Since glass is a pretty good insulator, and your mini fridge probably isn't all that cold, it takes a good long time for the beer to reach its previous low temperature and the pressure to reduce inside the bottle. This won't happen as much with bottles near the freezer, as they cool faster, or with cans, as aluminium cools much faster than glass, and also is slightly flexible. This will also happen pretty randomly at unpredictable intervals, since mini fridges don't have good internal circulation (especially not when full of beer). It can actually stay quite warm in spots for longer than you'd think.

I'd suggest either waiting longer before opening beers, or opening them over a sink or strategically placed bucket.
posted by ysabet at 1:00 AM on June 21, 2011


My first thought was the solubility of CO2 in water going down as temperatures rise.
posted by salvia at 1:25 AM on June 21, 2011


Sounds like the fridge is just not getting cold enough, which seems likely with a mini fridge as they're not the most reliable of appliances.

But if that was the case, then beers that were stored outside of the fridge would exhibit this as well.

Could it be that the beers are getting TOO cold. I've had this happen with carbonated beverages when they were stored near the part of the fridge that had ICE formed near it.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:28 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Could it be that the beers are getting TOO cold. I've had this happen with carbonated beverages when they were stored near the part of the fridge that had ICE formed near it.

I've seen this too. The beer is somehow at a near-freezing state, and opening it changes the pressure and the solubility of the CO2.
posted by gjc at 4:40 AM on June 21, 2011


Another vote for the beers getting too cold. I've had this happen with beers tossed in the freezer "for just a couple minutes" to chill them faster* - inevitably they are left longer than intended, start to freeze a little, and this is what happens when you remember they're in there and open them up.

*which of course is a substandard method of quick-chilling a beverage, but usually this is done in desperation.
posted by Sara C. at 5:39 AM on June 21, 2011


Does the mini-fridge vibrate when the compressor kick-on? It could be that the bottles are getting shaken almost constantly. Even if it's a subtle vibration, it could have an effect over time.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:06 AM on June 21, 2011


In favour of the "too cold" theory: I've had this happen with bottles that had been in the fridge for some time, and were lying on their sides near the top (that is, nearest the freezer compartment). They gushed when I whipped the crown seal off. It hasn't happened since I turned the fridge down (ie caused the temp in the cabinet to increase) and stood the bottles up.

The fridge is a new LG, so should be OK.
posted by Logophiliac at 8:28 AM on June 21, 2011


Get a few adhesive temp strips to get a read of the temperature differences of the bottles. It's possible that the mini fridge is just not capable of cooling your beers evenly. Temperature differences in the glass itself for example can cause excessive foaming. In a keg system, you always want to make sure your lines are cold as a sudden change in temperature will create nothing but foam.

Mini fridges do tend vibrate a bit too as Thorzdad suggested...if you locate your compressor, are the bottles near it more foamy than those away from it? Perhaps throwing hand towels in the fridge for the bottles to rest on might lesson the carbon molecules from escaping the beer. Another option would be to let the bottles sit for 5 minutes in an ice bucket before opening (which admittedly would be inconvenient).
posted by samsara at 10:02 AM on June 21, 2011


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