General Category > Yeast and Fermentation

What's your home yeast lab look like?

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Thinking of putting together a basic yeast lab for fun. Mostly to learn the science of culturing and maintaining healthy yeast. I'm assuming it would eventually pay for itself if done properly. So, what's your yeast lab look like? List your favorite pieces of equipment. Bonus points for photos!

I'm not very sterile, I just operate in my kitchen with the HVAC turned off and lots of star san getting sprayed on everything. I use the typical flask and some two and four dram vials that I use both for freezing yeast and for growing up very small cultures. Mason jars (covered with foil) are used as small fermentors for testing out new strains and I can bottle six to eight ounces of beer as a tasting sample.

If I had the space and the money (both I hope to have available in coming years) I'd follow the advice in Yeast and set up a nicer system. Given how fantastic some of the brew stands and mash systems some homebrewers are working with, I expect to see some very nice yeast labs in this thread.

My yeast lab looks a lot like new packages of Wyeast sitting in my basement fridge.   ;D

I don't have time of the skills to farm yeast.


No pics, but a yeast lab does not need to be as sanitary as some other labs.  The academic labs I've worked in all work on a bench top with a bunsen burner and 70% EtOH.  You spray down the bench (sometimes), you dip stuff in EtOH and flame it (if it won't catch on fire), you quench it in your plate, and move on.  Things that can't be flamed are autoclaved for sterility.  You work near the burner because it creates an updraft that is supposed to keep things from falling in your open plates/tubes.

So get an alcohol lamp if you don't have a gas stove, buy some 151 grain alcohol, and get a pressure cooker (optional).  Our big innovation was when a colleague found flat toothpicks with rounded ends - those are great for picking colonies off plates, you can autoclave a jar full and have sterile/sanitary tools that don't need to be constantly flamed which is really more annoying than fun.

My lab at home consists of a gas stove and a bottle of grain.  And I have an incubator and stir plates, but that doesn't count.  I don't have a pressure cooker, but I took home my open jars of toothpicks when my lab moved to SF and they have lasted me a long time.  I don't do much yeast ranching anymore though.  I don't think it's worth my effort when good yeast is so easily available.  I buy what I can't get from local breweries.

Very, very basic. Some 250 mL jars for long-term storage and small propagations, a home-made stir plate and some gallon growlers for building up pitchable quantities. A microscope and plate cytometer (the scope is actually a really nice stereo model with light source, but I got it surplus from a lab for $50), and some methylene blue for staining. A spray bottle of isopropanol 99% for flaming things before transfers. Total investment is probably right around $100, and I really don't think there's anything else you need for a small brewery.

On the other hand, about two-thirds of my brews just use yeast harvested from another fermenter. If it's really thick, I don't even do a count, just pitch by volume.


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