Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bottle Fail

The time has come for another blog post and this one isn't fun to write.

In all our communications leading up to the Satchmo (Short Batch #13) release, we told you all that we'd be releasing a limited amount of caged-and-corked 750ml bottles that would be sold exclusively at Smuttynose. We were very excited about this opportunity; we even visited Allagash during their Ghoulship release to see what we could crib from them.  

Unfortunately, our initial bottling of 750's didn't go as we had planned.  The bottled Satchmo is so limited that we have none to sell.  Our small bottler, which also fills the Portsmouth Brewery's bottles, was not working properly when we ran which meant we had to stop bottling short of our goal.  There were three problems on the day and we're glad to be able to explain exactly what happened with each of them.

Here goes:

1) The fill heads that create a pressure-tight seal over the bottle tops didn't fit over the top of the 750s.  These special bottles have wider tops so that the cage has something to grab on to.  The wider top prevented the head from going down far enough, preventing a proper seal.  Without a proper seal between the fill head and the bottle, the partially-carbonated beer will foam as it's put into the bottle, resulting in under-filled bottles.

2) The sacks of oak chips in the bottling tank impeded the flow of beer through the product line causing interruptions in the pump's prime.  When this interruption occurs, liquid doesn't get pumped and the bottle filler recognizes the error and aborts the fill.

3) We were kegging and bottling Satchmo from the same tank (tank 12), a scenario that has never been a problem when running our main filler.  In this instance it was a large problem as the smaller bottler is much more sensitive to pressure variation on the "product in" line which meant rampant filling errors and the loss of some product and lots of time trouble shooting.

The net result of these three problems was a very short period of less-than-ideal, but still acceptable filling.  Needless to say, we have learned a lot from this experience, but it has left a bit of egg on our face, as we know that some of you were very excited about a bottled Short Batch release.

On behalf of Smuttynose, I apologize for any disappointment this may have caused.  We're also disappointed and maybe a bit embarrassed, but we're doing our best to look ahead to future 750ml bottlings. We hope you are too.


etamme said...

Sorry to hear it. I wasn't really sure that I was going to get a bottle any way though b/c of the limited release.

I kegged my "backed out recipe" of satchmo this weekend and it came out great. Here is my beer smith recipe


Any chance we can get more info on the grain bill (percentages) since this one is not going out to the public?

JT said...


There are still kegs of Satchmo going out, but no bottles; keep your eyes peeled for random draft appearances. There will be some going on tap at The Black Birch in Kittery, Maine. We're just not sure when, since we no longer own the kegs.

Thanks a lot for your interest in Satchmo.