Bunker Brew Co

Thorpe Hesley

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

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%


By in Home brew 0

Hopzilla – Flummoxed Yorkshire Red Pale Ale – 6.5%

Rotherham Homebrew: Hopzilla at 6.5% . A tongue in cheek ‘Flummoxed Yorkshire Red Pale Ale’ nearing the two month old stage, this confused beer style is a sweet dark IPA. In an attempt to try something different (and to use up the remnants of homebrew ingredients before the new year) I used 7 different malts & 7 hop varieties, with the end result producing malty coffee, chocolate and toffee flavours. A strong bitterness dominates this christmas type beer. This homebrew turned out much darker than expected, but I’m pleased overall with the result. I look forward to seeing how it matures for next christmas.

Home brew Hopzilla

Thorpe Hesley Homebrew – Hopzilla