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Thread: Laboratory Procedures

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    3

    Laboratory Procedures

    I am currently an assistant brewer working at a brewery where we don't really use the lab. We have the basic equipment (centrifuge, microscope, etc.) but we don't routinely use it.

    What tasks should I be learning and how can I put this equipment to good use to further my brewing education?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    London, United Kingdom
    Posts
    180
    hi,

    you should probably think about learning to do yeast counts - buy yourselves a haemacytometer (spelling?) and get to know what you guys are pitching and try to stick to it! it will be one of many steps you take in producing quality, consistent beer.

    cheers,

    alex

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    6
    "What tasks should I be learning and how can I put this equipment to good use to further my brewing education?"

    As the previous poster mentioned, yeast cell counts & viability measurement should be #1 on the list. After that, look into getting a handle on good aseptic technique, which will allow you to do the following:
    -Plating of fermenting beer to screen for bacterial and/or wild yeast contamination. Good media for this are HLP and SDA+ cyclohexamide for bacteria screening, and LWYM & LCSM for wild yeasts.
    -Plating of pitching yeast to monitor for potential mutation, which will manifest fairly early on (before product flavor changes are apparant) as changes in giant colony morphology. You'll see a change from uniform-looking colonies on the media to a mixed variety of shapes & textures. In order for this to be useful you need to plate frequently (at least once per week) so you will be able to notice these differences as they begin to manifest.
    -Sterile filtration & incubation of finished product to screen for contaminant microorganisms.

    Back in 1994 Fal Allen wrote a terrific series of articles in "Brewing Techniques" magazine that should get you on the right track to start. The articles were spread over 4 or 5 issues and were titled "The Microbrewery Laboratory Manual." If you can find copies of that it should also give you a good idea of where to pursue more info. Finding those articles is probably the best advice for you at this point.

    Happy hunting.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Dexter, MI USA
    Posts
    203

    Lab stuff

    Another thing might be to pick up a copy of Laboratory Methods for Craft Brewers, edited by Rena Crumplen. A nice spiral bound book available through the MBAA. 1-800-328-7560, or www.mbaa.com

    Cheers,
    Ron

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    3
    Originally posted by jschier
    Back in 1994 Fal Allen wrote a terrific series of articles in "Brewing Techniques" magazine that should get you on the right track to start. The articles were spread over 4 or 5 issues and were titled "The Microbrewery Laboratory Manual." If you can find copies of that it should also give you a good idea of where to pursue more info. Finding those articles is probably the best advice for you at this point.
    Thanks for your reply. As a matter of fact, I was poking around in the lab today and I found a binder with a number of articles related to lab procedure, including copies of the Fal Allen articles that you refer to. You are correct: this is just the sort of information I was looking for.

    Thanks again, to you and all the others who replied.

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