The Nalco yeast activity monitor: Brewing applications

Yeast and Fermentation Session
michael bradley, nalco company, naperville, IL, USA

ABSTRACT: Inconsistent yeast management practices can negatively impact the consistency of fermentation and the quality of beer produced. A new laboratory instrument for automated yeast activity measurements is now offered by Nalco Company. The fundamental basis of the technology is a fast, fluorescence generating reaction that targets native yeast enzymes. The instrument’s interactive touch screen computer guides the user through the sample preparation steps, which are performed on a digital balance connected to the instrument and require about 30 sec of hands-on time. Several key features differentiate this new technology from the industry standard practices of microscopic cell counting and viability staining. The sample preparation and reaction monitoring procedures employed are completely non-subjective and automated, meaning that anyone can perform the measurement without introducing operator-to-operator variability. The results are automatically logged by the instrument and made immediately available over a network for integration into reports, databases, and control systems. Finally, the activity levels measured with the system depend on the number of viable cells in the sample, as well as the metabolic activity (vitality) of the population. Examples will be presented of successful application of this technology for optimizing propagation, yeast pitching from a slurry, and fermentation monitoring in the brewing industry.

Mike Bradley lives in the suburbs of Chicago and works as an R&D scientist at Nalco Company, where he develops microbial detection and control technologies to improve process efficiencies for Nalco’s customers. Prior to working at Nalco, Mike trained at the University of Chicago and the University of Florida, where his research combined elements of bioinformatics, evolutionary theory, and wet-lab approaches to explore biomolecular structures and functions. Mike received his Ph.D. degree at the University of Illinois Chicago for his thesis on yeast prion proteins.