What Craft Brewing and Panel Construction Have in Common
By Evan Coulter
My main hobby away from the office is craft brewing. I have a passion for making small batch beer. Over the past few years, I’ve gone from starting out with a Mr. Beer kit to growing my own hops and welding a brew stand together in my spare time.
It occurred to me the other day that great breweries and great panel shops have one thing in common: they are both a blend of science and art. It’s what sets them apart.
Anyone can make a beer. Just like I followed the directions on my first Mr. Beer beer-making kit, there is a Step 1, a Step 2 and so on. There are ingredients and temperatures and a right time to do certain steps.
For instance, when mashing (the first step of converting the starches of the grains into fermentable sugars), the temperature is most often quoted around 153 degrees Fahrenheit. However, starch conversion takes place between 131-162 degrees Fahrenheit.
The science and art of brewing meet in fine-tuning the mash temperatures to the particular style of beer desired. A lower mash temperature will usually yield a thinner-bodied, drier beer, while a higher temperature mash will produce a less fermentable, sweeter beer. (This example assumes the same ingredients.) You can tweak the process and get a completely different product. It’s like other panel shops: they can use the same parts, but I believe our process yields a better result.
There is an art to machining and wiring a custom electrical control panel. I’ve blogged about UCEC’s craftsmanship before but what I said then is still true: when a client opens up one of our panel doors for the first time, we want that “wow” factor. Quality is obvious, whether in beer or panel manufacturing.
Our craftsmen are trained to wire a panel correctly, of course, so that it does what it is supposed to do. But they are also taught to craft straight lines and neat wire bundles. We are proud to do one thing—craft custom electrical panels—and do it well. Our panels are truly artistry.
Evan is UCEC’s VP of Operations. He's currently brewing his favorite craft beer, a doppelbock.