μBrews – Microscopy in the Brewery

Welcome to the home of my video series on how to use a microscope in the home or craft brewery. This is a 10-part series, with episodes released every Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting on February 10, 2020. The goal of this video series is to teach brewery microscopy from the ground up. The first five videos in the series concentrate on understanding and properly using your microscope. The final five videos then show a range of microscopy-based assays that are useful methods to employ in your brewery.

μBrews Release Schedule

microscope series release schedule

Videos:

Episode 1 – A Brief Tour of a Light Microscope. In this video I will take you on a quick tour of a microbiological light microscope, tracing the light path to show how your sample is illuminated and imaged, all while explaining what the different microscope components do, and what they are called.

A more detailed description of microscope components and how to select a microscope for your brewery can be found at my blog.

Episode 2 – How Your Microscope Forms an Image. This video explains how your microscope optics form an image, the importance and role of a condenser on a brewery microscope, describes how these components enable microscopy in the brewery, and provides you some suggestions on what type of optics you need to perform microscopy in the brewery.

A more detailed description of microscope components and how to select a microscope for your brewery can be found at my blog.
Episode 3 – Focusing & Changing Lenses on a Microscope. This video explains how to properly focus on a sample and change the objective lenses on your microscope to achieve varying levels of magnification. This is a key skill all microscopics must master, and this video focuses on the best practices for ensuring that you always find your sample without damaging your microscopes objective lenses.

A more detailed description of microscope components and how to select a microscope for your brewery can be found at my blog.
Episode 4 – Use and Care of an Oil Immersion Lens. Oil immersion lenses are a must-have for any brewery hoping to perform microscopy beyond yeast cell counts. However, using an oil lens properly can be a challenge, and incorrect useage can damage both the oil lens and the other objective lenses on your microscope. This video demonstrates how to properly and safely use an oil immersion lens, and how to protect both the oil and non-oil lenses to ensure your microscope lasts for years.

A more detailed description of microscope components and how to select a microscope for your brewery can be found at my blog.
Episode 5 – Aligning the Light Source. It can be a challenge to form an artefact-free, high contrast image which faithfully reproduces the colour of your sample, with a microscope. The most critical step in forming such an image is properly aligning the condenser of your microscope.

This video shows how to align an Abbe-style condenser to produce Kholer illumination – an illumination pattern which limits artefacts and enhances the contrast and colour of your sample. This video demonstrates this procedure and explains the basic physics achieved by Kholer illumination. A much more detailed description of the goal, physics and outcome of Kholer illumination can be found over at Microcourses.
Episode 6 – Preparing a Wet Mount. The simplest and quickest way to look at a yeast sample is using a method called a wet mount. In this technique a small amount of a yeast (or other) sample is placed between a slide and a coverslip, using a narrow thread or hair to create a layer of the sample thin enough to be easily imaged with a microscope.

This video provides a step-by-step guide on how to prepare a wet mount, and shows you how to get the best quality images from a sample prepared in this fashion. Wet mounts differ from other imaging methods in one key aspect – wet mounts keep your sample alive. As such, knowing how to perform a wet mount is critical if you want to perform viability or vitality staining – the topics of Episode 7 of µBrews.
Episode 7 – Viability & Vitality Staining. This video covers one of the more common – and important – questions in the brewery: whether a yeast pitch is healthy enough to use on brewday. This question can be answered by staining the yeast with dyes that indicate whether the yeast are alive (viability staining) and which assess the energy stores available to the yeast (vitality staining).

In this video I demonstrate how to perform viability and vitality staining. Trypan blue is used for viability staining. This is a dye which is excluded from living cells, but which can enter and accumulate in dead cells, thus staining these cells a deep blue. Iodine is used for vitality staining. Iodine stains glycogen – the primary energy store of yeast – a dark brown, allowing a brewer to assess the energy stores available prior to pitching the yeast.