It is possible, it turns out, to have too much of a good thing.
Two hundred years ago today, in London, the Horse Shoe Brewery on Tottenham Court Road suffered a malfunction. The metal hoop helping to support one of the enormous storage vats snapped; in short order, the side of that vat—which stored some 610,000 liters of beer—ruptured. The debris compromised the nearby vats, which also burst. And the beer inside the vats, a porter, had nowhere to go but out: out of the burst container, and out into the rest of the brewery. And then out into the streets. And then out into other businesses and homes of St. Giles Rookery, the slum that had previously inspired Hogarth’s Gin Lane.
The newly liberated beer came in an enormous wave—15 feet high, according to reports at the time—like some kind of ironic Greek punishment being doled out to St. Giles' beer-happy residents. The wave flooded cellars and took debris along with it—leaving, as Atlas Obscura writes, "a path of foamy destruction in its wake."
George Crick was the clerk on duty at Horse Shoe at the moment of the flood. As he recalled it, according to The Independent: “I was on a platform about 30 feet from the vat when it burst. I heard the crash as it went off, and ran immediately to the storehouse, where the vat was situated. It caused dreadful devastation on the premises—it knocked four butts over, and staved several, as the pressure was so excessive. Between 8 and 9,000 barrels of porter [were] lost.”