At around 10am this past Monday an over-pressurized 40 Bbl (1,250 gal) fermenting tank at Middlebury, VT’s Otter Creek Brewing Co. exploded due to a faulty pressure relief valve on the tank. No one was hurt in the accident.
The explosion from the tank, which was holding over 1,000 gal of Wolaver’s Brown Ale, damaged surrounding pipes, another nearby fermentor as well as a portion of the brewery’s wall. Spilt beer covered the brewery’s floor as well as the nearby parking lot.
According to OCB’s director of finance Daniel Fulham, the brewing staff was able to get back to work on Tuesday after a series of extensive safety checks.
“The valve was faulty,” said Fulham. “We’re proud of our safety record here, and we’ve redoubled our efforts to make sure all of our backup devices were working.”
Fulham said that the two damaged tanks have been taken off-line and the extent of the financial damage has yet to be determined. Most of the brewery’s 20 fermentors hold a 300 bbl capacity so the brewery was lucky that none of those were affected.
Middlebury Fire Chief Rick Cole said firefighters stabilized the damaged tank so “it wouldn’t fall on somebody while they tried to clean up the brewery.”
OCB has never experienced a tank explosion until Monday.
“With beer aficionados the first thing they wonder is ‘Are you going to run out of beer?’” Fulham said. “The answer to that is no. We have plenty in the tanks and plenty in the warehouse. The beer will keep pouring.”