Bunker Brew Co

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Oats So Saison Home Brew

The Saison Experiment

Originally this Rotherham home brew project was called ‘Saison D’avoine‘, a tribute to my favourite style of beer, the mighty Saison. My second beer project of the year, the first being a accidental failed attempt.

The name of this beer was simplified to ‘Oats So Saison’ as to not confuse my sample beer drinkers. The primary aim of this beer was an experiment to see how a large proportion of Oats would fair in a Saison style beer, using the glorious Lille Saison beer yeast by the Crossmyloof brewery.

Crossmyloof Lille Saison Yeast

Crossmyloof Lille Saison Yeast

LILLE SAISON CLASSIFICATION: French Saison's a top fermenting ale yeast with a distinctive dry, peppery and citrus farmhouse ale vibe. Designed to work with maltose and simple sugars it has high attenuation and can reach abv's of up to 11%. It'll finish off nice and clear too with good flocculation & ferments quite nicely between 17-28c. A more estery brew can be achieves at the higher end of fermentation temperatures.
SAISON STRAIN CLASSIFICATION: Saccharomyces cerevisiae. RECOMMENDED TEMPERATURE RANGE: 62 - 82°F (17 - 28°C); ATTENUATION: (81-90%); FLOCCULATION RATE: 68%; VIABLE YEAST CELLS: >20 x 109; GMO STATUS: GMO Free; Max brew strength per sachet in a 23 l brew - 7.6%/8.9% ABV (Double pitch if a higher abv is required)

A fascinating article from ScottJanish.com (Permanent PDF link here)  really spiked my curiosity in brewing with oats, specifically, how far you could push them in home brewing. Oats have always been a staple grain in my home brewing recipes since day one. I’ve always been a massive fan of porridge for breakfast, including the health benefits of beta-glucans in your diet. This translates pretty well to the overall health of your living, breathing beer, with oats adding improved beer stability, and improved yeast health as just a couple of benefits.

I’ve typically used flaked oats for around 10 – 20% of my malt bill recipes in the past, due to the added mouth feel and improved body to the final brew. I love a good beer head on my brews and the high fat content is well known as a ‘head killer’ so i have been reluctant to use any more than necessary. The clear and present danger of using too many oats is also the possibility of a stuck mash. This is essentially mash ‘porridge’ that will prevent the wort filtering through the grain bed properly. In this brew, I used 200g of rice hulls to try and increase wort flow and filtration.

The Recipe:

So here’s the ‘Oats So Saison’ recipe (with brewing sugar improvised along the way)

3.0 kg Rolled Oats (from the supermarket)
3.0 kg Pale Irish Malt
1.0 kg Chateau Blanc Wheat Malt
200g Rice Hulls
1.0 kg Brewing Sugar @ 10 mins

Leafy Kazbek Hops (8.0%) 50g @ first wort
Styrian Goldings hop pellets (2.8%) 12g  @40 mins
Styrian Goldings hop pellets (2.8%) 16g + *Spices @10
2 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 10
2 tsp Agar Agar powder @ 10
(no Irish Moss available)
Styrian Goldings hop pellets (2.8%) 72g after 5 days brewing for 5 days

*10g Coriander Seeds @ 10 mins
1 old Lemon Zest (lost oils) @ 10 mins
A few grinds of black pepper @ 10 mins


The Beer Brewing Process:

Oats So Saison Home brew Ingredients

Oats So Saison Home brew Ingredients

I was hoping for an ultra pale ale wort, with the ingredients strongly suggesting that’s what I would get. I was slightly concerned about the lack of acidulated malt effecting the initial brew pH, with all my hopes resting on the IBU present in the Irish Pale Malt that made up around half or the beer recipe. The strike water on the stainless boiler was set to 80°C, due to it being a slightly colder day with a good breeze flowing through the brewery (garage). The water was untreated, with an initial pH of 7.2. The mash tun was pre heated with a kettle full of boiling water prior to filling. The pre-mash water measured a temperature of  76°C and after adding the grain, the temperate sat at a respectable 66°C. After a good stir through to avoid dough balls and circulate the mash, pH now measured 5.8 (with temperature correction calculations). A little high, but as expected!

Oats So Saison Mash Tun mash

Oats So Saison Mash Tun mash

After an hour of mashing and a temperature drop to 65°C (you have to love insulated stainless steel!) the porridge was about ready for 1st running’s into the kettle. The rice hulls had all but risen to the top of the mash, raising some concerns about how ‘stuck’ this mash would be.

Oats So Saison Hydrometer Readings

Oats So Saison Hydrometer Readings

The first running’s Hydrometer reading was cooled to around 18°C and gave a respectable reading of 1.060 gravity. This reading was not indicative of the overall gravity of the wort. The appearance was golden and creamy in colour, exactly what I hoped for. The initial run off gave around 10 litres of wort from a 30 litre sparge! the water retention of the porridge was clear and apparent in all its horror.

Oats So Saison Mash runoffs

Oats So Saison Mash runoffs

The beer wort was quite foamy, perhaps due to the increased protein element of the oats.

Oats So Saison Mash Tun Sparge

Oats So Saison Mash Tun Sparge

The grain bed was ultra compacted following the first immersion sparge. The second immersion sparge was dumped in from the boiler at around 76°C to rinse off the remaining ferment-able sugars, using around 20 litres of water. I also did the dreaded ‘stir’ of the grain bed to enable the break up of the porridge. (i apologise!) but this was necessary in the circumstances. Second runnings from the immersion sparge gave an OG of 1.060 (after cooling) again, suggesting that the mashing process with the grain was far from complete. Next time I will possibly consider a third sparge, or consider buying a larger mash tun, >40L.

Oats So Saison Mash Tun Second Sparge

Oats So Saison Mash Tun Second Sparge

The second sparge topped up the wort in the kettle to 35 litres. The combined gravity from both immersion sparges gave a final gravity of 1.045 using the cooled hydrometer sample. This would give a final beer strength of around 4.6% ABV which was a little low for the Saison style. Brewing sugar was close at hand. I tend to use a proportion of brewing sugar for my Belgian style recipes, as this adds a little extra fermenability and lends to a tradition that the Belgians use for many of their brews.

Oats So Saison boil wort colour

Oats So Saison boil wort colour

The sight glass on the boiler, demonstrated just how clear this beer wort was.

Oats So Saison Beer boiling

Oats So Saison Beer boiling

This beer would have around 40 minutes of actual boiling, so the 50g of leafy Kazbek Hops (8.0%) were added at first wort. These were contained in a stainless steel filter to prevent additional mess when it came to clearing up. The beer was brought up to the boil using a gas burner. It was fairly breezy, so I added an aluminium wind shield to prevent the wind from buffeting the flames too much. At boiling point, I added the 12g of Styrian Goldings hop pellets (2.8%) to the boiling wort in a stainless steel tea strainer.


The copper cooling coil was added about 15 minutes before turning off the gas burner to sterilise, followed by the 16g of Styrian Goldings hop pellets (2.8%) + Spices, together with 2 tsp’s of yeast Nutrient and 2 tsp’s Agar Agar powder.

Oats So Saison Brewing spices

Oats So Saison Brewing spices

It was at this point that I added the 1.0kg of brewing sugar to boost the gravity. I created a slight whirlpool effect by stirring boiled wort for around five minutes for the agar agar powder to mix in and circulate the hops on flame-out. Following a 40 minute cooling process with the copper coil system, the final gravity read at 1.060 and the pitching temperature was 18°C. I was surprised at the amount of trub and residual protein in the bottom of the boiler, as shown here:

Oats So Saison Boiling Kettle Trub

Oats So Saison Boiling Kettle Trub

The warm wort was then transferred into the stainless fermenter at height, to allow aeration of the wort for the Saison yeast to eat through.

Oats So Saison fermenter filling

Oats So Saison fermenter filling

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The All Grain Home Brewer Kit

If you are reading this post, it is likely that you have just about decided to make the bold step of moving from canned home beer brewing kits into the realm of all grain beer. First of all, Well done! The move will see you make substantially better quality beer for you and your friends to enjoy. You may also be aware that this is a slightly daunting endeavour, both in time, energy and equipment costs. If you have ever met an all grain home brewer, you will probably know that he or she spends a great amount of time moaning about cleaning brewing equipment, than actually brewing beer.

Stainless Steel Home Brew Equipment

Stainless Steel Home Brewing Equipment

Investing in good cleaning materials is also fairly important. So, what will you need to get your new hobby (or upgraded hobby) off the ground? First of all, think big. Look to produce a minimum of around 5 gallons (23L) of wort per batch as a minimum. The following list is a growing one based around my personal setup, and each home brewer will use a variety of different tools.

The List!

  1. A Thermostatically controlled water boiler 30+ L (for your mash water and sparge water)
  2. A Stainless Steel Mash Tun 40-70L (bigger the better)
  3. A 30 – 70L Stainless Steel Boiling pan (bigger the better)
  4. A Stainless Steel Mash Paddle.
  5. A Copper Mash paddle (for emergency boil overs)
  6. A Propane Gas Burner.
  7. A Propane Conversion American to English conversion device.
  8. A set of Aluminium (or Steel) Wind Shields.
  9. A Propane Gas Tank.
  10. A Copper heat exchange cooling coil.
  11. Plastic Garden Hose Pipe and adaptors.
  12. A Stainless Steel Fermentation Device (Adapted oil dispenser).
  13. A plastic bucket for ingredients.
  14. A plastic bucket for washing up.
  15. A plastic weighing bucket.
  16. A set of digital scales.
  17. A digital probe thermometer or infrared thermometer gun.
  18. A Digital PH Meter.
  19. A Steel Jug and Sieve.
  20. A Hop Spider or similar x 2 (for hops).
  21. Steel Tea straining balls x 3 (for micro hops)
  22. A Hydrometer & Measuring Cylinder.
  23. Lots of 330ml & 500ml dark glass bottles


By in Beer Reviews, Home brew 0

Bunker Brew Co – King Atlas IPA – 7.2%

One of my homebrew experiments! From the fictitious Bunker Brew Co comes King Atlas IPA at 7.2%.  A slightly herbal fruity aroma on decapping. The pour is average to high carbonation, with an appearance of slightly hazed orange. Head generation is initially high, then drops off to a thick finger width of retention. Once in the glass, the aroma is slightly citrus orange, reinforcing the taste with a layer of bitter orange pithiness, followed by an additional layer of hop bitterness. The body is thick and resinous, carbonation drops off to allow the aroma and body to poke through. One of my better homebrews.

One of the most difficult review processes is that of your own beer. Often highly critical, it is something that I haven’t done in a while. This brew features a fairly large does of Pacific Gem, Herkules, Pride of Ringwood & Junga hops during the boil, I wanted to create something slightly more European in the IPA realm, rather than the blasting of senses via the American C hops or the low alpha New Zealand. The dry hopping was focused entirely around the Atlas hop, using 100g of leafy hops which sat in the primary fermenter for 5 days, partially through an active fermentation to enable considerable agitation and flavour additions. The result is a slightly resinous, but smooth, resulting in a full bodied IPA that combines good bittering with a slightly subdued resinous aroma. I’m quite happy all in all with this one.

Bunker Brew Co King Atlas IPA

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Homebrew Friday – Belgian Light Ale ‘Interpolation”

The Belgian Homebrew

Today’s brew has been a few weeks in the planning. In 2017, I really want to focus on the home brewing style of Belgian ales and today is the start of that, albeit a slightly experimental approach. The aim was to create a standard ‘sessionable’ Ale with a focus on a Belgian noble hop style aroma. 2016 will be the last year that I will subject myself to substandard supermarket ales, the money saved will go on more homebrew supplies and a third stainless steel fermenter. In this brew, I wanted to start with a standard beer base without too much malt influence to influence those noble hops too much. Here goes!

2.0kg Pale Ale Malt

2.0kg Maris Otter Malt

400g Wheat Malt

250g Rolled Oats

Fermentis Safbrew S-33 Yeast

30g Apollo 19.5%A @ 60 mins

50g Strisselspalt Dry Hop 2.3%A (5 days)
 Target 1042

One thing that I am slowly starting to appreciate in my current setup, is the grain mass vs efficency. Its only taken 2 bloody years to realise what i’m doing wrong! I’m guessing that the surface area of grain to water and relative solubility/absorption is limited by the size of the mash tun. Using a lower grain bill, I pretty much smashed my target SG of 1042 by achieving 1041.

Today was back to basics. Minimal hops, grain and messing about. Maris Otter was used as 50% of the base to add a bit of biscuitiness and flavour with 50% low colour simple Irish pale ale grain to finish off the core. 250g of Oats was also added to give the wort a little bit of body and mouthfeel to avoid a watery finish. I finished off with a chunk of wheat malt to add a little sweetness, head retention and hopefully a flash of cloudiness.

The strike water was deployed at a respectful 77°C, and after preheating the mashtun, the water landed and the cold grain was added and stirred in. The mash water was now 66°C. The lid went on and ten minutes later I took a PH reading of 5.5% which was just within tolerance. An hour later, filtered drain to the boiling pan, a sparge and a 30 min additional mash meant the beer was about ready for boil.

Collecting first runnings from the mashtun

Due to it being a cold day of just around 4°C, the boil point took a little bit longer than usual, then adding the Apollo hops at 60 minutes in a large steel tea strainer. An uneventful boil and cool down to 22°C then allowed the pitching of the yeast. I usually do this as the cool wort is gravity tapped into the steel fermenter in order to get as much foam and oxygenation as possible.

In discussion on the yeast, I’m using a variety that I’ve never used before. It appears to be a Marmite yeast. Love it or hate it! I didn’t want to use a funktastic T-58 variety nor an Abbey yeast as I wanted the Strisselspalt flavour and aromas to shine through. This is supposedly a standard British ale variety of yeast with little flavour contributions or esters at a low temperature. Fingers crossed!

After primary fermentation, a later addition of 50g of Strisselspalt hop leaf was added in a stainless steel mesh hop spider, weighted with stainless ball bearings. This sat in the fermenter for 5 days.

Every home brewer knows how important the bottle conditioning process is. Every homebrewer also has a degree of impatience. This, for me, is demonstrated during the secondary fermentation stage, where there is always a temptation to see if the brew has carbonated properly. The opportunity to sample a ‘green’ beer is also too good to pass.

This beer, after 5 days tasted pretty dreadful. This s-33 Safbrewyeast variety is one that I’ve never tried before, with varied reviews online and across the forums. The yeast presence was overbearing and the body was young tasting and sweet. I was considering dumping the lot.

After 4 weeks, thankfully, the beer has matured into a classic tasting beer. The closest resembling commercial Ale would be ‘tasty’ Kronemburg. Decapping the bottle gives a faint whiff of white wine which dissepates instantly to gives a classic grassy noble hop aroma. The body is full (surprising for a 4.0% ale) and has a pleasantly dry aftertaste without the ester intensity of the t-58. The beer is best served at fridge temperature as opposed to room temp.

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Home Brew – ‘Ella’ SMASH IPA

Today was a glorious day for making a good home brew beer. Here in the sleepy town of Thorpe Hesley, Rotherham you would think nothing could go wrong …..


This type of brew was a first for me, being a SMASH beer (single malt and single hop) based around a Maris Otter barley base and 100g of Ella Flower Hops from Australia! The brew was planned for additions at 15 minute intervals. I originally got my inspiration from drinking a Brewdog single hop ale called IPA is Dead: Ella which i found really quite amazing.

Weighed out Maris Otter Barley

First of all, I weighed out 7.0 KG of Maris Otter Barley into the brew bucket. While I was doing this, the water heater was steadily raising the strike water to around 77 °C. After the boiler thermostat control flicked off, a test with the digital thermometer confirmed the temperature. The mash tun was pre-heated with a kettle of boiling water, rinsed and then the strike water was added.

Beer strike water deployment

The landing temperature of the 28.0 litres of water sat at 71°C, the Maris Otter grain was added (7.0 KG) which brought the mash temperature to a respectable 67.1°C.

Mash Tun with grain

The mash stirring was a real pain, i found that trying to photograph, whilst adding the grain and then attempting to stir in is quite difficult. Anyhow ,I spent a good minute or making sure that the mash was well stirred in and crushing any formulation of dreaded dough balls. I didn’t waste too much time as I wanted the mash to stay at around 66°C.


Thankfully the mash stir in gave a conveniently pleasant 5.3 PH, so luckily the calcium carbonate & Lactic acid remained unused and no water treatment was needed at this stage. The mash tun was sealed and remained in situ for 1 hour to allow the ferment-able sugars from the Maris Otter barley to immerse into the mash.

mashtun and strainer

The colander and jug were ready as two jugs of wort were collected and recirculated over the top of the mash to let the grain bed filter settle and obtain a clearer wort.

wort re-circulation and grain bed

The colander was used to distribute the wort fairly evenly, not disrupting the grain bed too much.


The first running’s were then collected in the brew kettle.

sparge water addition

In this brew, I sparged the grain with the sparge water and gently pushed the top of the bed down slightly to enable full immersion. The mash tun was re-sealed and I left the immersion of the grain for a further 30 minutes. The aim was not to disturb the grain bed filtration and add any nasty tanning to the wort.


Following the collection, I fired up the gas burner, with the brew kettle on to to get the brew going, only to find that the gas canister had run out of gas. Great. Now comes the real act of dexterity….

boiling the wort

After lugging the (heavy and cumbersome) brew-kettle into the kitchen (and trying not to spill any), the burner fired up, the canopy extractor kicked in and the brew was fortunately saved.


After the brew had started a rolling boil, additions of 15.0g of Ella Flower Hops were added. One at the start, then every 15 minutes until the end of the 60 minute boil. Each addition was added in a hop filter, in an attempt to get a cleaner brew. In the final 10 minutes, I added 2 x teaspoons of yeast nutrient and a teaspoon of fining (in the form of Irish moss) to enable prompt protein coagulation in the beer.


The sterilised copper heat exchange was added to the brew to, before taking outside for rapid cooling. The rig runs from the outside tap, through the copper coil and into the outside drain. A trickle system works wonders here and also prevents too much wasted water.

final gravity

A final gravity reading of 1059 was taken of the cooled wort (room temperature) before the brew-kettle contents were transferred to the steel fermenter. At this point, I wanted to enable as much oxygenation of the wort as possible and let the run-off splash from a good height to generate a good froth in the fermenter. Yeast was also added in the form of a recycled (fridge stored) M44 US West Coast Yeast which was saved from a previous trub in a brew from a few weeks ago. After racking to mini kegs and bottles I’m hoping for a 6.2% IPA style (post carbonation) beer. 40.0g of Ella dry hops were added to the fermenter after three days. So far so good!


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Home Brew Dry Hopping Filters


The long anticipated dry hopping package arrived from china. I was looking for a clean and cost effective hop and dry hopping deployment for both hopping the beer in the boil as well as dry hopping the beer in the fermenter. After varying success with Nylon bags and cotton muslin bags, These gizmo’s are essentially designed for infusing tea leaves, and can easily withstand boil temperatures with the overall aim of reducing hop mess, whilst maintaining a good hop diffusion rate. Lets hope they work out as planned.


I purchased three large ‘hop’ devices and a smaller one for micro dry hopping.

Dry Hop Filters

The Package

dry hop filters

Tea infusers/dry hop filters