Today was a bit of a milestone for us at Siebel. We started the second module of the diploma program and we began talking about yeast. Our professor is Graeme Walker from Scotland. He is very entertaining during lectures. He seems to really enjoy making fun of anything that isn't from Scotland. He definitely knows yeast very well and he seems to enjoy teaching.
We started off with a general review of microbiology. We talked about the differences between Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes and various types of yeast. After that, we jumped into yeast morphology, yeast reproduction, and different types of beer spoiling organisms.
One of the interesting points that Dr. Walker made today came when he told us not to call beers with spoilage organisms "infected." He was very insistent that we never use that word and instead we refer to those beers as "contaminated." He placed a great deal of importance on brewery cleanliness and lab work. He even went so far as to say, "If you don't have a microscope in your brewery, I don't have much hope that your beer will be worth drinking." I think that was a wake up call for a lot of the brewers in the class. Even though I do yeast counts and viability tests, I realized after today that we should be doing a lot more work with the microscope at work than what we are doing. It is not enough to just check the brewing yeast under the microscope. When I get back home, I will be making sure to begin doing more gram staining to check for bacteria.
This part of the course is what I have been looking forward to the most and I particularly look forward to talking more about yeast harvesting, repitching, and storing. That said, I also believe that this will be the most challenging part of the program and that even with my group's long study hours, we are going to be staying up even later for the next two weeks to try to stay ahead of the professor. Speaking of studying... I believe it's time to get back to work.