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Messages - karlh

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Wood/Casks / Re: Rolling Solera stand (pic)
« on: March 31, 2010, 10:45:55 AM »
Nice stand.  I built one a bit shorter for my 15 gallon barrel, hopefully enough to get 5 gallons out so I can lift it to drain the rest.  I didn't notice if you put casters on the stand, but I did this for mine so that I could wheel it off to a corner where it could sit undisturbed. 

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: stuff I'm finding under the microscope
« on: March 30, 2010, 09:33:30 AM »
Kai, I googled rod bacillus and believe that is what you are looking at....
we do live in a biological soup of sorts.

It does look very similar, except for the size. From what I know bacteria are much smaller than yeast but these things can get as large as yeast cells. I once saw what bacteria looks like when I looked at a wort stability test after it started fermenting. It was a sea of very small rods and dots. Much smaller than these rods that I commonly see in wort and beer. Besides that, none of the beers tasted infected. That should have been the case if they were bacteria and given their density.

I agree with you Kai bacillus are much smaller than what you are seeing.  It could be some mutant yeast cells.  Given the size its way too big for bacteria.  Is this a yeast that you have been culturing for a time, or do you pitch a fresh culture with every new batch of beer? 

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: "Spontaneous" fermentation
« on: March 30, 2010, 09:26:13 AM »
We have a club member here in the Northern Chicago suburbs who did a similar experiment and produced 5 gallons of beer with a "spontaneous" yeast cultured from a dish of wort left in the backyard.  The results were interesting.  I asked a friend who is a professor of microbiology about this type of experiment and she advised that there are a number of pathogenic organisms that can ferment a sugary liquid besides yeast.  Her basic advice was that it might simply be yeast, but it also could be something that could make you very sick or even kill you.  If it's somewhere in between, you might serve the beer with a caveat that anyone who has a somewhat compromised immune system might not want to try your "experimental" brew.  I have decided that its pretty difficult asking people about the status of their immune system when I am serving them beer.

I tend to be more cautious with these types of experiments, and use commercial cultures for all of my sour beer experiments simply because I feel safer knowing exactly what is in my beer.  

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: How about least favorite style of beer?
« on: January 21, 2010, 08:11:10 PM »
Not a big fan of SHV beers. I always brew one to enter into comps that I'll be judging, so as to escape having to drink them. Sound logic?  :D

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Microscope and yeast counting
« on: January 21, 2010, 11:40:11 AM »

Try finding Uthsca Image Tool.  Its freeware, has some basic imaging filters and thresholding tools.  You should be able to
1: determine size of grid square on hemocytometer in pixels (use a photo and the calibrate function)
2: take photos on hemocytometer (outside grid square for minimum noise, but having same volume as grid squares) showing cells
3: Crop images or create region of interest same size as grid square
4: measure cells using combination of filtering and thresholding. 
5: export count data to txt or csv format
6: count and do math in excel.  In theory, you could take a much lower mag photo and count in this manner automatically for better statistics.  Scale as you see fit.

Pimp My System / My 3 tier
« on: January 20, 2010, 07:55:02 PM »
My 3-tier system (at 20 degrees) in the winter:

Brewing in summer:

Instead of a conical, I used a Sabco Yeast Brink. The gas in line with a bit of hose works as an airlock.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Microscope and yeast counting
« on: January 20, 2010, 07:03:48 PM »
Its a really nice microscope.  I have an unfair advantage when it comes to microscopes. 

I have tried to point out that you can find a lot better optics if you look for a used microscope that is research grade.  My home microscope is an "Ernst Leitz Wetzlar" medical microscope from about 1950-1952,  I purchased it on Craiglist for $100 from a doctor closing down his office.  Unfortunately I had to watch the Chicago craiglist for about a year before I found a really high quality microscope at a low price that didn't appear to be stolen.  I actually brought a slide with some yeast on it to check out the scope before I bought it. 

There are a few really good names in optical microscopes and you can search ebay or craiglist for Carl Zeiss, Leitz, Leica, Nikon, Olympus.  The latter two have made good units for the last 20 years, and the others for the last 50 or 60 years.  I would rather take my chances on a 100 year old Carl Zeiss microscope than a no name"student" microscope.  The one inexpensive model that seems to be very high quality is "LOMO", a research grade microscope out of Russia that is surprisingly low cost available from optics planet. 

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Microscope and yeast counting
« on: January 20, 2010, 05:01:10 PM »
OK,  I didn't have the patience to count all the cells manually, but did a quick filter, threshold, and count on 5 squares of the 25 square grid.  One square looked like this after filtering:

This counted as 477 cells (477+460+417+440+444)

The rough count of cells in five squares is 2238 (477+460+417+440+444) (x5 for the uncounted grid squares) (x104) = 1,163,760 cells/ml at day 3 of the ferment, so not too bad, and my filter was pretty sloppy so it could be higher.  I'll dilute 10 ml into 90 ml H2O the next time I attempt this.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Microscope and yeast counting
« on: January 20, 2010, 04:12:53 PM »

This is a (B&W) photo of an actively fermenting wort on the hemocytometer grid square.  As you can see, I need to dilute the sample to facilitiate counting.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: stuff I'm finding under the microscope
« on: January 19, 2010, 07:55:14 AM »
Kai,  I think the blurring you see at the edges of the photo are due to chromatic aberration.  You might be able to find an ACHROMAT or PLAN ACHROMAT objective to fit your microscope which will give you photos with a much flatter field of view, but this would likely be costly.  One place that sells surplus optical materials of this sort is

They also regularly have older surplus microscopes at reasonable prices.

I brewed a belgian strong golden ale (og 1.074), which is destined to go in a 15 gal. oak barrel with a brewing friends belgian strong dark. 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: How about least favorite style of beer?
« on: January 18, 2010, 07:27:20 PM »
I used to feel the same as many of you about hefeweizen, until I made one and had it fresh.  My immediate impression was that a lot of what I didn't like about the style was a result from age and poor storage... that said, my hefeweizen has never done well in multiple comps, but I like it anyways.  I felt the same about Koelsh (sp?), again until I made one, and it has been a regular brew since (and done well in comps).  I will even admit that I watered down a CAP (2C?), and it got a 1st place as a 1C, and I happily drank it.  That said, I have not started planning on brewing any 1A or 1B yet. 

A lot of the beer I just don't like has obvious flaws related to age and storage.  My local shop sells belgians that are SO DAMN OLD that they barely resemble beer, and when I tell the beer manager they have turned the best they do is mark them down to $3/bottle.  That makes really great breweries look bad, because I have had a lot of those beers in great condition.  I don't know why we can take a $20 bottle of wine back to the shop and expect a full refund, but beer is somehow exempt.  Most beers I don't like are a product of poor storage.  When I take on the challenge to brew it myself, I am often pleasantly surprised.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: stuff I'm finding under the microscope
« on: January 14, 2010, 08:21:32 PM »
Kai,  Check out this link for the cheapest camera I have found

Karl, have you used this? I would be worried about the image quality.


I have not tried it out.  I have not been impressed with any photos from low cost cameras.  My last light microscope setup was a Zeiss, and it was a comfortable 5 figures.  I expect that this product is a cmos chip on a flimsy digital setup with an adapter to fit an eyepiece, but you are pointing out the need to be able to photograph something.  I do not expect that you would be able to take publication quality photos with any $59 camera, whether it is attatched to a microscope or not.  If you want to show a picture of something to a microbiologist or folks on the list and ask them "what the %$#! is this?" I suspect it will do the trick.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: stuff I'm finding under the microscope
« on: January 14, 2010, 01:47:46 PM »
Kai,  Check out this link for the cheapest camera I have found

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: cleaning
« on: January 14, 2010, 10:59:36 AM »
Oxyclean and BTF Iodophor... and I'll second the usefullness of plain old Dawn dishwashing liquid.  I have run into brewers who are almost superstitous about exposing their stainless steel to soap, and its often my first step in cleaning. 

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