Author Topic: What's your home yeast lab look like?  (Read 1372 times)

Offline kraftwerk

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 117
    • View Profile
What's your home yeast lab look like?
« on: April 01, 2013, 02:08:11 PM »
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!
Beer is like music. I don't have a favorite. I'll take a well-made example of any style!

Offline reverseapachemaster

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 912
    • View Profile
    • Brain Sparging on Brewing
Re: What's your home yeast lab look like?
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2013, 06:53:37 AM »
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.
Heck yeah I blog about homebrewing: Brain Sparging on Brewing but I'm also a lawyer: The Kielich Law Firm

Offline Slowbrew

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1657
  • The Slowly Losing IT Brewery in Urbandale, IA
    • View Profile
Re: What's your home yeast lab look like?
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2013, 07:27:25 AM »
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.

Paul
Where the heck are we going?  And what's with this hand basket?

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8130
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: What's your home yeast lab look like?
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2013, 08:53:44 AM »
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.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline a10t2

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3166
  • Ask me why I don't like Chico!
    • View Profile
    • SeanTerrill.com
Re: What's your home yeast lab look like?
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2013, 09:30:53 AM »
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.
Beer is like porn. You can buy it, but it's more fun to make your own.
http://seanterrill.com/category/brewing/

Offline dimik

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 238
    • View Profile
Re: What's your home yeast lab look like?
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2013, 07:50:19 PM »
I agree with Tom. Working with yeast doesn't require much fancy equipment.
Mine looks like this
http://bkyeast.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/how-to-build-a-yeast-ranch/
Though I have some "luxury" items.
Check out BKYeast for my yeast ranching adventures and home lab!

Primary: Braggot, Petite Saison, Porter, Herbal IPA

On Tap: RyeIPA

Offline reverseapachemaster

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 912
    • View Profile
    • Brain Sparging on Brewing
Re: What's your home yeast lab look like?
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2013, 10:15:25 PM »
No pics, but a yeast lab does not need to be as sanitary as some other labs.

They are probably not dual use surfaces that share duties with food prep/consumption nor is there cat hair adrift in the air. I'd like to have a space where I don't have to move yeast cultures around to make dinner and don't have to worry about the cats knocking something over. There's just not space available at home for a decent work space plus some storage space for some other yeast handling equipment.
Heck yeah I blog about homebrewing: Brain Sparging on Brewing but I'm also a lawyer: The Kielich Law Firm

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8130
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: What's your home yeast lab look like?
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2013, 11:23:57 PM »
I think in most homes there is plenty of space.  When I do stuff at home I just do it next to the stove - I've got about 12 inches of counter to the left to work with, and that's plenty.  When I am done plating stuff I put the plates on top of the fridge because it is a little warmer and holds temp better.  If I am making a starter then the stir plate sits on the counter.  To me it is no different than what I do with anything - if I'm making something in the slow cooker I have to pull that out of a cabinet and get it set up.  Same with the yeast stuff, which sits in a bin in the garage until needed.  You can wipe a counter down easily.  And cats - I store my plates in either ziploc bags or with parafilm.  If it gets knocked over you pick it up and put it back, it's not the end of the world.

But like I said, I don't think it's worth my effort.  Maybe it's not worth yours either.  But if people want to do it they shouldn't let space stop them.  I once had 5 batches of beer fermenting in my 285 sqft studio apartment.  Where there's a will, there's a way.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline ynotbrusum

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1004
  • Da mihi sis cerevisiam.
    • View Profile
Re: What's your home yeast lab look like?
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2013, 04:45:40 AM »
My "lab" consists of two or three one-gallon zip locks with slurry sitting in a Tupperware container in my lager chest.  I write the date of harvest and yeast type on there.  I rarely keep them more than a month before use, but if so, then I make a starter.  Simple, cheap, and for me, effective.  I know it's not a lab in the technical sense, so I try not to get too technical!
« Last Edit: April 03, 2013, 11:29:49 AM by ynotbrusum »
Hodge Garage Brewing: "Brew with a glad heart!"

Offline kylekohlmorgen

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1163
    • View Profile
    • The South House Pilot Brewery
Re: What's your home yeast lab look like?
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2013, 05:21:55 AM »
...I once had 5 batches of beer fermenting in my 285 sqft studio apartment...

"My Apartment aka My Fermentation Closet"
@southhousebrew

Indianapolis, IN

Recipes, Brett/Bacteria Experiments:
http://southhousepilotbrewery.blogspot.com/

Offline kylekohlmorgen

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1163
    • View Profile
    • The South House Pilot Brewery
Re: What's your home yeast lab look like?
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2013, 05:26:50 AM »
My "yeast bank" consists of a bunch of growlers with airlocks.



I intend on slowly replacing the growlers with large Erlenmeyer flasks because the growlers are very difficult to clean thoroughly (I've had repeat infections in one growler already).

That, and I'm out of growlers to fill at the brewpub or to take homebrew to parties.
@southhousebrew

Indianapolis, IN

Recipes, Brett/Bacteria Experiments:
http://southhousepilotbrewery.blogspot.com/