Bunker Brew Co

Home brew

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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.

By in Home brew 0

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!


By in Home brew 0

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

By in Home brew 0

Brew Day – Gargant Barleywine

Barley wine – Belgian style

I’ve never brewed a grain based Barleywine before, so I thought I’d brew one ready for christmas 2018. The outside fermenter is pretty much out of action until warmer months, even with a thermostatic heater, i don’t want to risk it. I’d got around the winter warmth problem by purchasing a improvised stainless steel fermenter from Italy to sit on the kitchen side, this was originally an olive oil storage drum. Aesthetically it’s half decent, so the lady doesn’t mind it too much. Anyway, here’s the recipe:

Gargant - Barley Wine

6.0 Kg - Maris Otter/Pale Ale grain mix
0.4 Kg - Crystal Malt
0.2 Kg - Carapils
0.1 Kg - Smoked Barley Malt

50 g Galena 14.1% A (Hop Pellets) @ 60 mins
20 g Galena 14.1% A (Hop Pellets) @ 30 mins
2.0 Kg Unrefined brown sugar @ 10 mins
Safbrew Abbaye Yeast (dried)

As a bit of a Barley Wine fan, it isn’t a beer that is readily available in the supermarkets. It would appear that Gold Label is the best that we can hope for, and that’s not too great a beer.  It’s an old style of ale that appears around the world in various guises. I was first introduced to this by my father, who pretty much brews the stuff exclusively from Youngs brew kits. It’s pretty good stuff, and probably the best Youngs kit beer i’ve tried in a while. The brew itself is traditionally very malt intensive, which tends to defeat much of the hop aroma in the final brew, and after a couple of years (up to 25 years aging) hop aroma tends to dissipate completely. Being financially viable is also important. The 2.0 kg of unrefined brown sugar is utilised to inflate the ABV without contributing too much to the flavour profile. Using 100% grain for this brew is a scary thing to do. You would be talking about multiple mashes, and a hell of a long time boiling down the wort. The excessive crystal malt i added in this brew will add sweetness and body with the idea that it won’t all ferment out.  The yeast is also an important factor in this home brew, the belgian yeast should add a bit of spice and character with some fruity esters, essentially replacing the hop aroma. I’m keeping this brew fermenting at around 18°C to avoid too much subtle alcohol presence in the final beer.

Water boiler and beer mash tun

The thermostatically controlled water boiler is run off at 77 degrees celsius.


The stainless steel mash tun was pre warmed with a kettle of boiling water for 10 – 15 mins to avoid any temperature variation when the mash starts. Adding around 17 litres of strike water, at 77°C, then adding the grain bill to the mash and stirring for around a minute brought the temperate to 66°C.

Barleywine Beer wort in mash tun

The Barley Wine mashing in the stainless steel mash tun.

Water treatment
With the mash stirred in, and all the dough balls completely destroyed, the lid went on for 10 minutes to allow the PH to stabilise. It was time for a PH water mash test. The water around Thorpe Hesley is around 7.3-7.5 PH and is quite alkaline, so I was expecting some water treatment for the mash. The roasted malt in the grain bill is slightly acidic and offsets the alkaline water PH. A digital test on the PH meter gave a 6.0 PH. This was slightly too high as I was aiming for around a 5.2-5.6 PH reading to aid enzyme extraction of the sugars. A couple of dashes of Lactic Acid and a bloody good stir, brought the PH down to 4.0, which is too acidic for a healthy beer. three teaspoons of Calcium Carbonate adjusted this with another enthusiastic stir. It settled at 5.2 PH so, no more messing about.

Lactic Acid & Calcium Carbonate PH modifier

Lactic Acid Solution & Calcium Carbonate to adjust the beer mash PH.

This was an hour mash, so after 30 minutes, I popped the top on the mash tun and gave it another good stir to enable full immersion. The temperature had dropped 0.5°C, to 65.5°C which was perfectly acceptable. The stainless steel mash tun was doing its job wonderfully.

Barleywine Wort Extraction

Home Brew Barley wine Wort Extraction

Wort Extraction
After running off the wort (and a quick recirculation pour to settle the grain bed) from the mash tun, a second sparge took place to mash out the final sugars in the grain. The sparge water was added at 77°C to the grain bed, stirred thoroughly and a digital PH mash test was conducted. Still at 5.2 PH! great stuff. The mash tun was left for a further 30 minutes and ran off into the boiling kettle.

Boiling barleywine wort in the brew kettle.

The Barley Wine wort is boiled in the brew kettle.

The final brew was then boiled for an hour and 10 minutes before the end, adding the sugary stuff of unrefined brown sugar with the seaweed finings and couple of teaspoons of yeast nutrient. I took a few hydrometer readings for good measure during the process.

Pre Boil Gravity - 1.060
After Boil - 1.120
Final results

The home brew took 2 weeks of room temperature fermentation before giving a final gravity of 1.020, a very efficient belgian yeast strain. I then primed and bottled the brew, before wax sealing with a copper wire de-sealer.

Gargant Barley Wine

Final Gravity 1.020
60 IBU
Final ABV: 13.1%