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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Fermenter Explosion at Franconia Brewery in McKinney, TX



    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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I98bUw_Sddc


    And some news articles... featuring my pictures and videos in fact

    http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/Explo...139580134.html

    http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2012/02/18/2...inney-brewery/

    http://beernews.org/2012/02/two-take...sion-in-texas/


    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.

  2. #2
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    Re: Fermenter Explosion at Franconia Brewery in McKinney, TX

    Wow! Hope the people all recover physically and emotionally, and that the business can move forward as well. Scary situation.

  3. #3
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    Re: Fermenter Explosion at Franconia Brewery in McKinney, TX

    Quote Originally Posted by Bourbon Boiler View Post
    Wow! Hope the people all recover physically and emotionally, and that the business can move forward as well. Scary situation.
    This was just posted by Dennis on Facebook

    Ok like prommised another quick update. Just visited the guy who was entered in the Hospital. He is doing ok. He has some back injuries and a brocken ripp. It will take some time to heal but they may release him today. It was good seeing him this morning and best wishes from all of us. We hope we can get everything fixed up and get back on our feet. A lot to take care of now but we will keep everyone in the loop. Thanks again for all the good and helping feelings.
    Good to hear the guy will be alright. Could have been SO much worse!!!!

  4. #4
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    Re: Fermenter Explosion at Franconia Brewery in McKinney, TX

    Holy cow! I saw this article just a few minutes ago on the NBC site, and was wondering if this is the one you were at. Thank goodness for the sheer good luck that had everyone safe.
    Mark Edwards - Proof of Sanity Forged Upon Request

  5. #5
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    Re: Fermenter Explosion at Franconia Brewery in McKinney, TX

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkEdwards View Post
    Holy cow! I saw this article just a few minutes ago on the NBC site, and was wondering if this is the one you were at. Thank goodness for the sheer good luck that had everyone safe.
    I'm reading that now. How is it possible to have a 4 sentence article with typos in it?

  6. #6
    Bourbonian Of The Year 2013 and Guru
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    Re: Fermenter Explosion at Franconia Brewery in McKinney, TX

    I know zip on how this stuff works. Anyone want to take a guess on how something like this happens? What went wrong?
    JOE

    Wag more.
    Bark less.

    "Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama

  7. #7
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    Re: Fermenter Explosion at Franconia Brewery in McKinney, TX

    Quote Originally Posted by smokinjoe View Post
    I know zip on how this stuff works. Anyone want to take a guess on how something like this happens? What went wrong?
    Well unlike whiskey fermenters these are not open top, therefore they are subjected to a lot of pressure as the yeasts poop out CO2. Typically there are "breathers" installed on these tanks that let the gas out. Maybe it was clogged? I'm really just taking a stab at this but I can only assume that faulty equipment or a bad weld succumbed to the pressure :dunno:

  8. #8
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    Re: Fermenter Explosion at Franconia Brewery in McKinney, TX

    I don't think even the brewery knows for sure what happened yet. Hopefully they will alert us to the cause when it's discovered.

  9. #9
    Bourbonian Of The Year 2013 and Guru
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    Re: Fermenter Explosion at Franconia Brewery in McKinney, TX

    Quote Originally Posted by StraightNoChaser View Post
    Well unlike whiskey fermenters these are not open top, therefore they are subjected to a lot of pressure as the yeasts poop out CO2. Typically there are "breathers" installed on these tanks that let the gas out. Maybe it was clogged? I'm really just taking a stab at this but I can only assume that faulty equipment or a bad weld succumbed to the pressure :dunno:
    Oh, I see. I would guess they would/should have some sort of pressure gauge and warning system in place to alert of a high pressure situation? If that's what happened, I can imaging that tank could go flying around like an untied, filled up, balloon after you let it go. Ouch!
    JOE

    Wag more.
    Bark less.

    "Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama

  10. #10
    Connoisseur
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    Cincinnati
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    Great to hear you guys made it through without injury. I remember reading your post earlier in the morning with the last minute request to go and then I saw the NBC article. Was very glad to see your post this morning that all was ok. Really strange that it could build that much pressure to cause so much damage.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

 

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