There are few things that our Microbiologist, Wade, will leave his Yeast Lab for and, lucky for us, writing about yeast is one of them! Educate yourself below on the magic that is cryogenic yeast storage from the man himself:
At Founders, taking care of our yeast is of utmost importance. After all, yeast are the organisms that create alcohol and carbon dioxide during fermentation, and we cannot make great beer without them! We use a single strain of yeast to make all of our ales from All Day IPA to Imperial Stout. The scientific name is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and it is a unicellular fungus which means it is more similar to common bread mold than bacteria. Over time, the yeast get old and don’t perform as well as they were young and fresh, so we make a fresh batch of yeast every few weeks or so.
In the yeast lab, we use an in-house cryogenic storage system. It is a large thermos-like container with liquid nitrogen with tiny vials of our house yeast strain. The liquid nitrogen keeps them at a chilly -196 °C (-321 °F). Now that’s cold! We refill the storage system when it needs a top off of liquid nitrogen using the bulk nitrogen tank. That’s the smaller stainless steel tank next to the large CO2 tank by the loading docks at the brewery. We use the nitrogen tank to make nitro beers, and we use it to keep our yeast cold, too. Liquid nitrogen is used for all sorts of other things like making Dippin’ Dots and removing warts.
When we need to grow more yeast, we carefully remove a vial of yeast from the liquid nitrogen and carefully bring it back to life by thawing it. We mix glycerol with the yeast when we deposit it in order to protect it from freezing and thawing. It’s like an antifreeze for the yeast! We are super proud of our yeast lab and cryogenic storage system at Founders because it makes our yeast handling program completely self-sustainable. Because of this, we will have amazing and consistent yeast for decades to come! Cheers to the yeast!