Home Microscope

Ken writes:

I’m back from my time away in Edinburgh learning to brew and distill, though the masters course is not yet finished. For the last part, I am based in Dublin on a placement at Diageo (i.e. Guinness), where I am assessing the performance of various yeasts at conditioning green beer post fermentation. That deserves a post to itself. One of the things I did in Edinburgh was win a small prize for being a total swot. I had to be really, considering the burden I was putting on Dot and the kids by being away. And I just recently bought a microscope with the prize money. Long term, I need a microscope to check the health of my yeast to ensure that I consistently pitch vigorous healthy and uncontaminated yeast into each new brew. It also allows me to control better the amount of yeast in the bottle when bottle conditioning. The goal is to have properly carbonated beer without a huge slug of dregs at the bottom of the bottle. But in the short term I am just getting to know the microscope and practising basic microscopy techniques. I’m not the only one.
Frank w microscope (no slide)
Note that the microscope doesn’t actually have a slide in yet!
Frank w microscope w slide
Now it does. Frank is looking at a piece from a diseased leaf from our houseplant avocado tree.
leaf at 40x magnification
Here is the leaf at 40x magnification

Here is the same leaf at 100x
leaf at 100x magnification

When you move up to 400x, the microscope focuses at different depths in the visual field and the depth of focus is so fine that you have to pick parts of the leaf to focus on.

leaf veins at 400x magnification
Here are the veins of the leaf.
leaf surface at 400x magnification
And here is the surface between the veins.

(I took the photos by holding our camera up to the eyepiece.)

It’s a lot of fun anyway. I also bought a 10x and 20x hand lens so the boys can look at bugs and things, but I suspect they’re both still to young to get into it.

Anyway, I’ll try to put a couple of pictures up of some yeast in the future.

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3 thoughts on “Home Microscope

  1. Katimum

    Very impressive! I remember trying to look at seaweeds and the like under a little microscope I had bought – but it was such a dreadful lens, I could see better with my own eyes.

  2. Mairi Jay

    Thanks Ken. That really is most interesting. But I can see that as much as the microscope, one needs a knowledgeable eye. I’m presuming that the 400 magnification is showing the cells, but what are the cells doing and are they healthy? What a nice reminder of the Worshipful Company of Brewers.

    1. kenanddot

      That’s right. Actually identifying what you’re looking at is the hardest part. Identifying microbes is as much a matter of inference as of observation. You have to culture them in selective media and or conditions to do that. Actual genetic analysis might be required.

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