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Thread: Counter pressure bottling problems

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    3

    Counter pressure bottling problems

    We recently purchased a Fimar counter pressure bottling unit for bottling 355ml bottles of hard cider (max about of sparkling fruit wine. However I have had problems with foaming in the line (primarily at the point when the bottles are dosed with CO2 after filling). The product is going into the filling hopper without any foaming but we are getting overflowing as the bottles come out. I am assuming this is because I am not having the right balance between the pressure in the bottle and the CO2 dosing at the end. Any tips or suggestions on getting the right balance between incoming pressure, counterpressure and bottle pressure (or resources I could turn to). It has been suggested to me that part of my problem is that I am going through a plate filter and that I should eliminate my plate filter and only go through my sterile cartridge filter. However, this worries me as I don't want to clog this filter mid-bottling and do not see why this would cause problems (is a model designed to be pressurized and I have used it before with a mobile line with no problem). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Pennsylvania
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    71
    Do you still have this problem? Is your product carbonated? What temperature are you bottling at?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Tadcaster, Yorkshire, UK
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    1,057
    I don't know why this thread has been missed out until picked up again on the 16th, but as alluded to this sounds very much like a case of the cider being too warm for the CO2 content. Typically when packaging, particularly bottling or canning highly carbonated products, say > 2 vol / vol (4 g / litre) CO2, the temperature is less than 4 deg C. For details of the carbonation pressure / temperature equilibrium, there have been plenty of comments if you search through this site, but I normally suggest the Meheen website - www.meheen-manufacturing.com if I remember correctly. So you will need to chill the cider down to close to zero before filtration and packaging. The fileter and filler will also benefit from chilling prior to starting a cider run

    Good luck
    dick

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    3
    From what I've read and been told the temperature should be fine. Tanks are cooled down to about 28F before force carbonating and held at the temperature until bottling (measured temperatures of the cider when I check the pressure with my meter show that to be the actual temperature not just what my cooling system says it is). I prechill the lines and the bowl on the bottling line with cold filtered water (usually can only get down to 8C) and then bring in the product. I expected to get some foaming initially until the product cools the lines and bowl down further but the foaming doesn't really decrease much (I have to run quite slow to continue bottling) even after the bowl is holding at 2-4C. That temperature is actually measuring the headspace in the bowl, the cider temperature in the filled bottles is closer to 0C. I have noticed also as temperatures are warming up in the cellar I cannot keep the bowl headspace down no matter how cold the cider is and am having even worse foaming problems.
    Michelle Oakes
    Hauser Estate Winery
    410 Cashtown Rd
    Biglerville, PA 17307
    Winery: 717-334-4888 ex 2
    michelle@hauserestate.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    71
    Did you purchase this filler new or refurbished? Can you send me a few pictures of your filler?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Tadcaster, Yorkshire, UK
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    1,057
    After bottles have been filled, is the excess pressure gently released prior to lifting the seal from the head, or does the fill stop and the head simply lift suddenly ? If the head lifts (or bottle is lowered) without gentle release of the excess pressure first, the sudden change in pressure can cause violent fobbing. This may be due to the design of the filler, or perhaps incorrect setting up of the snift (gentle vent) or a malfunction in the snift system. If you have the documentation for the filler, this should tell you if it is designed for carbonated beverages and if fitted with a snift function.
    dick

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sonoma County, CA
    Posts
    49
    What is the head pressure on the tank? What is the head pressure on the filler bowl? Do you see any CO2 bubbles in any of the site glasses? What is your glycol temperature?
    If I may add two cents. 28 F may be too cold. It sounds ridiculous, but I have had experience with ice crystals creating nucleation sites for CO2 to break out of solution. Try raising the temperature 3 degrees to 31 F.

    Kevin
    When all else fails, forget the hammer. It's time for explosives!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Tadcaster, Yorkshire, UK
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    1,057
    Good point, though I seem to remember the one (?) occasion I saw it, the ice blocked various parts of the filler heads and they simply didn't fill - bit like a filter full of ice really !! But it was a can filler with mesh across the beer supply ports
    dick

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    807
    Are the bottles themselves foamy before dropping off the filler heads?

    It does sound like a counterpressure/snifting issue.

    What is the head pressure on the bowl typically when you're running. If the pressure is too high you will get a violent breakout of CO2 after snifting with beer/cider so cold. With extremely low temperatures like this, you may want to decrease your bowl pressure significantly.

    Pax.

    Liam

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