Yesterday was nothing short of a miracle after a fermenter exploded at Franconia during their Saturday morning tour.
The tour began as usual, the doors open and everyone gets a brew after chipping in $5 for the tour. After everyone has a full glass Dennis (the brewer/owner) starts the tour inside the fermenting tank room and begins to explain how they make their beer. This goes on for about 5-10 minutes until he asks us to all go to the walk in cooler where he will finish the tour. Normally he lets us refill our beers on the way to the walk in but this time he asked us to go straight there so we could finish the tour, then he'd let us drink as much beer as we want.
Everyone from the tour group, about 80-100 people, all crammed into the ~1,600 SF room, the door was closed and Dennis continued with his shtick. About 5 minutes into this we hear an extremely loud BOOM coming from outside the walk in. This was almost immediately following by an even louder series of crashing sounds. Before anyone could even react, the sliding door to the cooler was flung out and in rushed a 10' wall of beer. Everyone standing next to the door was literally drenched in brew.
Looking out I couldn't tell exactly what had happened yet but I could see the corrugated metal sheeting from the walls had been ripped apart and an steel I-beam from the same wall was on the ground. Everyone was kind of in shock about what happened but we started to slowly trickle out. It wasn't until I walked out of the cooler that I saw the tank on the ground. A 40-50 barrel tank had literally blown through a wall into the next room over, dumping it's entire contents in the process. It was a calamity.
Two employees were rushed to the hospital, one of them by helicopter. According to Franconia's Facebook page, the girl who got airlifted was discharged last night in good condition.
It is truly hard to describe how much of a miracle it was that no one was killed or seriously maimed. We were in the fermenting tank room no more than 5 minutes before it blew. The beer taps are also right next to the wall that the tank tore through. Had we still been in the tank room, or maybe getting beers at the taps, people would have died. Absolutely amazing that all of the guests were inside the cooler when it happened
Crude image, but this should give you an idea of how close we came to an even worse disaster. Just a few minutes difference would have spelled certain doom for more than a couple people.
Here is a video I took of the aftermath as we walk out of the cooler... will get you a good look at the damage
And some news articles... featuring my pictures and videos in fact
I've been in touch with a lot of the local beer community... people at Common Table, Holy Grail, Whiskey Cake, Meddlesome Moth, Deep Ellum Brewing, etc., were all very saddened by the news. We can only hope that the employees and the brewery itself will all recover 100% from this event.