Thanks so much to James of Basic Brewing Radio for having me on the podcast. I've gotten a lot of brewing inspiration from BBR and I find it an invaluable resource. I love exploring the different ingredients that go into beer. I think one of the most underappreciated ingredients is yeast. Certainly there's lots of hop heads out there and a decent number of people that love the malty goodness. A lot of people even do some sort of water treatment such as adding Burton salts or filtering their water. I've really begun to appreciate the subtleties that different yeast strains provide. My interest has slowly been growing in this area over the last several years but really took off when my homebrew club did a group batch where we brewed up a large amount of a single wort and each fermented it differently. It was amazing how different each beer was. All the same elements were there in each beer but at the same time each beer was distinctly different. Each strain of yeast had taken all those flavor elements and worked them in its own way as well as adding its own unique flavors. We just repeated this experiment a few weeks ago with a new set of yeast and I can't wait to taste the results.
I'm learning a lot of this as I go and having a good time doing it! I love watching those little yeast colonies grow up on the plate almost as much as I love growing them up to ferment a new batch of beer. As I mentioned to James yeast ranching is pretty simple. Basically you need an alcohol lamp and a wire loop that you can sterilize. Pre-poured malt/agar plates are pretty cheap and available from homebrew sites such as morebeer. With these you just need to flame your loop, pick up a yeast sample, and streak it onto the plate. With a pressure cooker or access to an autoclave you can mix up your own agar and pour out your own plates.