Bend’s 10 Barrel Brewing Co. issued a voluntary recall Wednesday of 12- and 22-ounce bottles of Swill, a sour fruit beer, and asked retailers across the Northwest to pull it off the shelves.
The recall was prompted by reports of beer gushing out of the bottles and one report of a glass bottle breaking, said Garrett Wales, partner at 10 Barrel, adding that the reason for the bottle breaking was undetermined as of Wednesday afternoon.
“What’s happening is we’re getting a secondary fermentation,” Wales said. “The beer is continuing to ferment in the bottle, so basically it just adds natural carbonation. … It’s a very small percentage of what’s out there, but for the sake of being safe and keeping our quality standards high, we decided to do the recall.”
Wales said this is the first recall 10 Barrel has ever had and said no other beers are being recalled because the brewing process for Swill is completely different. Swill is also still available on draft, he said.
“There’s been a full-headed attack of all of the partners getting in touch with distributors, chain accounts, grocery stores and also working with our brewers trying to identity the problem, as well as our glass manufacturers to see if there is a weakness in the glass,” Wales said Wednesday. “We’ve been here since 5:30 this morning working on it.”
Julia Herz, craft beer program director at the Colorado-based Brewers Association, said recalls are not the norm in the craft beer industry, but there have been isolated incidents of breweries taking action for various reasons, such as microorganisms in beer, faulty bottles or issues with carbonation.
For example, in 2008 the Boston Beer Co. announced a voluntary recall of its Samuel Adams beer in 12-ounce glass bottles, which possibly contained small grains or bits of glass. And last year Boulder Beer Co. announced a voluntary recall of its Obovoid Oak-Aged Oatmeal Stout in 12- and 22-ounce bottles, due to over-carbonation, according to its website.
“The bottom line is these beers are living, breathing beers, evolving in flavor, evolving in carbonation,” Herz said. “They are not just stable commodity products.”
Deschutes Brewery has never had a recall, but it’s come close, said founder Gary Fish.
“We have had plenty of product that we didn’t ship out and some that we didn’t know about that got out and wasn’t exactly what we wanted it to be,” he said.
In 2010, Deschutes Brewery discarded about 250 barrels worth of Black Butte XXII in bottles, according to The Bulletin’s archives, because of a layer of film that floated in the bottled beer.
Deschutes also discovered several years ago that a nearly 200-barrel batch of Green Lakes Organic Ale was accidentally made with malt that wasn’t certified organic. That beer was rebranded as the limited-edition Green Monster and sold last year, according to the archives.
Fish said it’s unfortunate that 10 Barrel had to issue the recall during the peak season, but the brewery is doing the right thing by taking care of the consumer.
Wales said he didn’t know how many cases of Swill will be recalled but expects to know more in the next couple of days. The beer is sold throughout Oregon, as well as in Idaho and Washington.
“It’s in a lot of places for sure,” he said. “It’s our big summer seasonal.”
Suzi Moran, beer and wine department manager for Newport Avenue Market, said the Bend grocery store didn’t have any reports about Swill from customers.
“They came in (and) took it off the shelves yesterday,” Moran said, referring to 10 Barrel. “I don’t think you’re going to find any in town.”
Wales said the brewery will have a “secret” replacement beer on shelves in about two weeks.
“It’s going to be a beer that we’ve had down at the pub several times, but we’re working on getting it dialed in right now, and it will be brewed this afternoon,” he said Wednesday.
10 Barrel is asking consumers to immediately dispose of any Swill they’ve purchased. The brewery advises consumers to put on protective gloves and eyewear, place all remaining Swill bottles in a closed box and place the box immediately in a secure outdoor trash container. A refund will be available for consumers who had to discard the beer. To receive a refund, email Swill@10barrel.com.
As for the future of Swill, Wales said, it is uncertain.
“It’s gone for the summer for sure. Whether or not it’s brewed in the future is 100 percent dependent on identifying the exact problem and finding a guaranteed solution,” he said. “We’re not going to risk putting out a product that we can’t completely stand behind.”