Still Alive

Hey people!

Sorry for not posting anything new in a while, but I’ve been rather busy in the real world. In short, the yeast isolation is still going on with some results. I have been able to purify some stuff from that berliner, but can’t tell for sure what exactly it is. More plating and testing is going to be done. I think I’ll use bromocresol green test to make sure. We’ll see when I get to it. The smell from the bag with the plates almost knocked me down with the smell of fruits and green apples so it seems like there is something useful there after all.

My lab setup is now officially complete as of this week. I decided to get a better microscope but still have the same sucky camera. It does allow me to use a high power oil darkfield setup, which is pretty darn sweet, but the light source is not as strong as I’d like so with 100x objective the images are faint. I’ve also been playing around with some fancier microscope software. A “lab tour” will be posted next week as per a few requests.

The plain berliner has been bottled and is happily conditioning now. It tasted pretty good for the first foray into sours before bottling and I popped a bottle last night because curiosity was just killing me. It’s not fully carbonated yet, but tastes mildly sour and funky with fruits and a touch of vinegar that’s barely noticeable. I saved about 250mL of slurry and will see what I can get from it because I’m starting to have some doubts as to how well the original blend survived.

Here is a picture of some brett that I pulled off the pellicle right before bottling viewed under the new microscope at 1500X.

And here is a sample I took from a vase with some flowers in darkfield. Don’t know what I’m looking at, but those worms, I guess, are lively and swim around really fast.

I’m also going to isolate Brett. L from the “Old Ale Blend” mostly because I’m too cheap to spend $11 on pure culture, and it’s more fun that way anyway.

Hope you find this more or less interesting or amusing so I can keep posting. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

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2 thoughts on “Still Alive

  1. This is great. I am just starting on my own project to learn more about isolation and such. I got into homebrewing a few months ago after being into breadmaking for a while, and the yeast is always the most fascinating aspect for me. I was just about to create a new blog for the project when I found yours.

    I have no training in microbiology so all I know right now comes from some helpful biology web sites and the better brewing sites. There’s a lot of junk in brewing forums and such that I can already tell is wrong or at the very least misleading. That is not surprising, given that anything remotely sciency on the internet devolves pretty quickly.

    The first two projects are trying to isolate the yeasts from apple juice fermentation. A glass of cider I left out while testing pectic enzyme for the first time unintentionally fermented into a slightly funky hard cider. I poured the sediment into a simple DME starter and to my delight it fermented, too. I brewed a 1 liter batch with whatever DME and hops I had on hand, and at bottling time last weekend it tasted very good. I plated a sample from the original cider and one from the finished beer, and got what appear to be two yeasts. One is kind of brain-like (looks like some colony pictures on the Brettanomyces project) and another looks smooth. The beer did not taste funky or sour and the non-fuzzy yeast was found in greater proportions in the finished beer sample. Perhaps it’s not Brett but rather some less alcohol tolerant yeast from beginning of fermentation. A paper I found on the subject listed several different types found in wild cider.

    The second is the result of an experiment at work one day. I bought a bottle of pasteurized apple juice and some fruit at the cafeteria one morning, poured out and drank half the juice and put some grapes in the bottle. When I came back a week later it had nicely fermented. No funky smells this time. I just got started on isolating that.

    So far I think it’s going OK but I really would love to know how I can tell yeast and bacteria apart on the plate. None of my samples have been sour so far but I keep wondering if the “yeast” on my plates is something else altogether. Is there any way a mere mortal can get more appropriate media that a lab would use in trying to differentiate things, rather than just plain wort agar like I am using now? The only lab supply company I’ve found that ships to individuals (Cynmar) doesn’t ship chemicals anymore.

    • Try American Science and Surplus as well as Home Science Tools. Also check eBay. Sometimes people sell equipment for unbelievably low price. You just need to keep checking.
      Those are great resources. In fact, most of my stuff is from them.
      If you want microscopes, again eBay is a good place.

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