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Thread: Meheen 4 head bottler questions/issues

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    Hastings, MI, USA
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    Meheen 4 head bottler questions/issues

    Howdy,
    I just inherited a 20bbl brewery that included a 4 head Meheen bottler; I have been told that Meheens are a poor choice for a bottling line due to excessive oxygenation (no pre-evac/purge prior to the fill) and the fact that the filling lines and fill tubes aren't really set up to be cleaned with caustic, etc., thus requiring frequent replacement.
    Being a start up, we want to minimize costs, but of course, we'd much rather not put out a poor bottled product due to issues with our bottling equipment -- any feedback? Can we replace the feed/fill lines and tubes with stainless for ease of cleaning, and mod the machine for pre-evac/purging?

    Thanks!

    Rob Zamites

  2. #2
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    Nov 2002
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    Polson, Montana, USA
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    I have been using Meheen bottlers for several years. My experience with Meheens is that they are the PERFECT bottler for small, startup breweries. If you have a pile of capital laying around, invest in a used Krones line. But the Meheen four-head filler is designed for micros. Yes the filler tubes and tubing do need to be replaced occasionally but every bottler needs that and these won't cost you $120.00 per filler tube! If you have specific questions about your machine, give Dave Meheen a call, (509) 547-7029. Luck to ya'!

    David

  3. #3
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    Apr 2004
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    Hastings, MI, USA
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    Thanks David,
    Once I get more settled in I'll give him a call and see what transpires!

    Rob

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    99
    I concur that Dave Meheen has always been responsive and great to deal with ... you can also email him at meheen@owt.com

    I have heard nothing but rave reviews for Meheen fillers... interesting to hear your information. Can any other members of the forum qualify Rob's comments...? I am considering purchasing a new Meheen filler myself.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Marquette
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    I am considering one as well. I have heard that airs are not the best on the Meheen, so believed that bottle conditioning is the only way to ensure low oxidation. But it looks like the Meheen machine does CP fill. Anyone with any real world data on air levels?
    Last edited by Paul O' North; 04-24-2005 at 05:32 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    121
    You might want to check into this add-on if you pull the trigger:

    http://www.ppmconcepts.com/pre-evac_retrofits.htm

    They make fillers too.

    If you get oxygen in the product, bottle conditioning will remove some of it. You have set the stage for oxidative reactions to take place. So you still need to be concerned about "airs" (oxygen) during filling.

    b

  7. #7
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    Zbrew, thanks, I earlier saw the PPM add on, and seems a reasonable solution.

    I worked for Goose Island, in Chicago. Goose was religious about removing beer from yeast and sought "clean flavor" by ensuring zero autolysis; yeast dumps took place quite often.

    As always, much of the question seems to come to a tradeoff: perhaps over broadly, autolysis via lengthy storage of (even, well cellared) bottle conditioned products, or oxidation with filtered, high-air beers. Hopefully, there is a middle road with the Meheen and PPM add on.

    But I was still curious, anyone with actual world data on airs with the Meheen Merlin, filtered beer, without the PPM add on?
    Last edited by Paul O' North; 04-24-2005 at 06:52 AM.

  8. #8
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    Marquette
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    Airs

    Anyone - airs on the meheen?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    West Chester, PA
    Posts
    393
    in the 3ml range....depending on operator, beer condition, etc. Not 0.5 like a krones.... but also not $500,000.00. There are many fillers out there with way worse airs for a lot more money. Keep the air out up front, fill and sell fast.

    Even craft beer with low air has a short shelf life....

  10. #10
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    Apr 2005
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    Marquette
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    Airs

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Horwitz
    in the 3ml range....depending on operator, beer condition, etc. Not 0.5 like a krones.... but also not $500,000.00. There are many fillers out there with way worse airs for a lot more money. Keep the air out up front, fill and sell fast.

    Even craft beer with low air has a short shelf life....
    Larry, thanks. I actually spoke with David Meheen at length the other day; nice and knowledgeable guy. It seems his newer generation (post-1999) has some fob capability, with CO2 pulsing and rate of transfer (pressure differential on lifting the CP off) creating a somewhat controlled fob and cap-on foam, so I am intrigued. Still, 3 ML is high - much higher than Dave indicated he achieved on a study done by an independent brewery running the machines for a QC program. Forget what we achieved at Goose, but I recall on the Z&N pierce tester, it was quite low.

    I want to avoid bottle conditioning, as I do not like beer on dead or dying yeast any longer than I have to deal with it; my plan is to treat the beer gently by relying on CO2-driven transfer, time, and cold, to clarify well and to avoid O2 pickup; then to force carbonate - hence my concerns about air at packaging time. If any have any beauties they really enjoy working on, and which they know to have low airs, I'm all ears. BTW - anyone know much about "the Little Prince" bottling machine, or have experience on it?

    Cheers,

    Paul

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    West Chester, PA
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    3 was the worst we ran...the pulse fob works very well, one of the big issues to keep air down is to get the off-gas correct so that you are capping on foam all of the time. i knew a guy running a little price....don't do it! your old homebrew filler is just about as fast. at least with the maheen you'll be able to pump out 80+ cases per hour. Do invest in the crown sorter for your sanity, and test often as you are learning the machine for low airs.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Marquette
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    airs

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Horwitz
    3 was the worst we ran...the pulse fob works very well, one of the big issues to keep air down is to get the off-gas correct so that you are capping on foam all of the time. i knew a guy running a little price....don't do it! your old homebrew filler is just about as fast. at least with the maheen you'll be able to pump out 80+ cases per hour. Do invest in the crown sorter for your sanity, and test often as you are learning the machine for low airs.
    Thanks, Larry, very helpful. Dave mentioned the off-gas is primarily the controlling mechanism for the fobbing rate, with the CO2 pulse aiding the nature of the fob itself; both adjustable to optimize the foam meeting the crown. Thanks, too, on the Little Prince - haven't seen anything about it elsewhere.

    Paul

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM, USA
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    3
    Rob,
    I have worked on a Maheen bottler, and don't feel that it is that bad if you are not selling your beer on the market. It works great if you are selling for in house only.
    I purchased some titanium fill tubes from Maheen that worked great they don't warp or bend.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobZamites
    Howdy,
    I just inherited a 20bbl brewery that included a 4 head Meheen bottler; I have been told that Meheens are a poor choice for a bottling line due to excessive oxygenation (no pre-evac/purge prior to the fill) and the fact that the filling lines and fill tubes aren't really set up to be cleaned with caustic, etc., thus requiring frequent replacement.
    Being a start up, we want to minimize costs, but of course, we'd much rather not put out a poor bottled product due to issues with our bottling equipment -- any feedback? Can we replace the feed/fill lines and tubes with stainless for ease of cleaning, and mod the machine for pre-evac/purging?

    Thanks!

    Rob Zamites

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