Portland Kettle Works Adds Automation Controls To Craft Brewing Systems

HMI Control Panel from Portland Kettle Works

New HMI (Human Machine Interface) Options Improve Efficiency, Consistency for Craft Brewers

Portland Kettle Works™ is one of the leading American manufacturers of state-of-the-art stainless steel brewing equipment. We manufacture equipment for craft breweries, wineries, kombucha breweries, coffee extractors and other brewing applications. We now offer our optional new HMI (Human Machine Interface) automation control panels for our brewhouses. These new automated control systems replace the traditional brewery controls of mechanical buttons, knobs and switches with “glass cockpit” style LCD touch screen automation controls to improve brewer’s control and batch-to-batch repeatability over their brewing process.

HMI Improves Control and Batch-To-Batch Repeatability

“We’ve been studying how to best implement HMI for our brewing systems for some time now,” says Thad Fisco, President and Founder of Portland Kettle Works. It’s not enough to just be trendy; we demand that it be as absolutely as reliable and effective as all of our system components. We took the time to do it right.”

HMI automation offers brewery operators a number of advantages over traditional manual brewery controls:

  • Increased brewing process precision
  • Better control over brewing process
  • Better batch-to-batch repeatability
  • Lower batch production costs
  • Save recipes
  • Automated controls for better brewhouse safety

Using HMI automation can improve brewery operations and the beer they brew.

More Precise Control

With HMI automation brewers can control their brewing with much greater precision than with mechanical controls. Times and temperatures can be precisely set and accurately monitored to ensure optimum brewing performance. Even better, process settings and recipes can be recorded and saved so that batch-to-batch brewing variability can be virtually eliminated.

Reliable, Repeatable Performance

“One of the most significant aspects of using PKW HMI automation controls is repeatability,” continues Fisco. “Brewhouses equipped with HMI automation controls can record and remember the precise times and temperatures of each step in the brewing process. This lets brewers save their recipes and repeat them time after time; recipes can even be copied by breweries with multiple locations or exchanged with other brewers.”

Plus, from a business standpoint, backing up recipes using HMI eliminates concerns that if a brewmaster leaves unexpectedly for any reason all of the brewery’s best recipes may leave with him or her.

Suitable for Retrofit on Currently Installed Systems

“High on our list of development priorities was to ensure that our newest HMI automation control panels could be retrofitted onto existing Portland Kettle Works breweries,” continues Fisco. “This allows our brewers to perform a brewhouse “tune-up” and gain all the benefits of using HMI automation controls without having to upgrade their breweries to all new equipment.”

In addition to upgrading PKW equipment installations, PKW engineers may even be able to adapt HMI automation controls to brewing equipment manufactured by other equipment manufacturers.

Special Upgrade Offer

To introduce the amazing capabilities of PKW’s new HMI automation control panels to current brewery owners and prospective new brewers, PKW is making an amazing offer: between July 1 and December 31, 2020* upgrade any new brewery system purchased from PKW from manual controls to HMI automation controls FOR FREE! This can save brewers as much as $25,000!!

For more information on PKW HMI just click here for the details.

*This offer subject to modification or withdrawal without notice.


Portland Kettle Works™ was founded in 2011 to build the highest quality stainless steel brewing and beverage equipment applications. Since then we have built and installed over 300 breweries worldwide. Our craft brewers are among the best of the best and they have the gold, silver and bronze medals to prove it. If you’re serious about craft brewing as a business, contact us and we can help you, too. And if you’re located in Mexico or Latin America, click here to visit our Spanish language site.

Washington Beer Awards 2019: 6 PKW Clients Claim 16 Awards

Washington Beer Awards 2019

Portland Kettle Works would like to congratulation our friends & clients from the following 6 Washington breweries who took home an amazing collection of 16 awards at this year’s Washington Beer Awards:

Big Block Brewing
Counterbalance Brewing
Jellyfish Brewing
Lowercase Brewing
Pacific Brewing & Malting
Well 80 Brewing

Washington Beer Awards’ website defines the competition’s mission as follows:

“…a craft beer competition designed specifically to support Washington’s professional brewers. This competition will provide an opportunity for all of Washington’s craft brewers to compete in a blind format. It will allow recognition of brewing excellence in Washington and provide constructive feedback supporting future competition entry decisions.”

The Washington Beer Awards’ website goes on to summarize the results for the 2019 competition as follows:

“This year 1,467 entries [by 193 Washington breweries] were evaluated over the weekend of June 1st by a team of 78 judges.  All of the beers submitted must have been both brewed and made commercially available in the state of Washington.  The entries were evaluated in a blind format using the Brewers Association Style Guidelines by panels of trained beer judges who awarded Gold, Silver, and Bronze placements for each category grouping.”

Portland Kettle Works is proud to be associated with these amazing Washington breweries as they raise the bar for the next generation of great craft beer!  Here is the list of these winners and their awards:

  1. Jellyfish Brewing, Hydra Pils, Gold, German-Style Pilsners
  2. Lowercase Brewing, American Light Lager, Gold, Light American-Style Lagers
  3. Lowercase Brewing, Mexican Lager, Gold, Other American-Style Lagers
  4. Lowercase Brewing, Eisbock, Gold, Other Strong Lagers
  5. Well 80 Brewing, Folle Pulle!, Silver, South German-Style Hefeweizens
  6. Pacific Brewing & Malting, 1897 Lager, Silver, American-Style Cream Ales
  7. Lowercase Brewing, ESB, Gold, English-Style Bitters
  8. Pacific Brewing & Malting, Grit City Porter, Silver, Robust Porters
  9. Pacific Brewing & Malting, Mama Bear Milk Stout, Silver, Sweet/Cream Stouts
  10. Big Block Brewing, Flathead Red, Silver, American Amber Ales
  11. Big Block Brewing, Big Block Brown, Gold, American-Style Brown and Black Ales
  12. Lowercase Brewing, Witbier, Gold, Belgian-Style Witbiers
  13. Counterbalance Brewing, Belgian Golden Strong Ale, Silver, Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ales
  14. Lowercase Brewing & Homebrewer Cory Geerdts, Dorkmunder, Gold, Pro-Am
  15. Lowercase Brewing & Floating Bridge Brewing, Forbidden Rice Lager, Silver, Collaboration Beers
  16. Lowercase Brewing, Best in Class, Mid-Sized Brewery of the Year

How to Start a Brewery:
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How to Start a Brewery, Part 10: Lowercase, From Homebrewer to Professional Brewer

PKW Fermenters with head brewer John Marti who helped Lowercase move from homebrewer to professional brewer

“Given another shot, I’d totally do it over… just perhaps a bit differently.

Brewery Owner Shares His Learnings Moving from Homebrewer to Professional Brewer in Seattle WA

Chris Smith has grown from homebrewer to professional brewer and, in the process, expanded from brewing 5 gallons of beer at a time to 500.  His brewery, Lowercase Brewing, opened its doors in January of 2014, and is located in the South Park area of Seattle Washington.  Since then, he has also opened a taproom in Georgetown.  Lowercase’s passion is brewing simple, approachable beers.  Chris has been quoted as saying:  “We got our start making beer in our basement, and seeing what our friends thought of it. After a little trial and error, the beer started tasting pretty good.”  Recently, Chris took the time to share his thoughts with Portland Kettle Works regarding his journey from homebrewer to professional brewer.

Read the entire interview...

How to Start a Brewery:
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How to Start a Brewery, Part 9: Bent Barley, A Veteran Brewery

Bent Barley Veteran-Owned Brewery Manway Cover

“We made a point of hiring beertender and service staff who were craft beer lovers first”

Bent Barley Co-Owner and Co-Brewer Shares His Experiences Starting a Successful Veteran Brewery

Bent Barley Brewing in Aurora Colorado was started by two friends and coworkers, Mark Job and Paul Dampier, who share a love of homebrewing and enjoying great beers with friends.  As a majority veteran brewery, Bent Barley is committed to utilizing American brewing equipment and ingredients, and providing support to their local community and businesses.  Mark recently took time to talk with Portland Kettle Works, describing the connection between his military career and his brewing career in the following manner:

During a 20-year United States Air Force career I was stationed all over the world. That led to an appreciation of classic beer styles, the importance of authenticity to those styles, and also a willingness to experiment with new styles and brewing processes.

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How to Start a Brewery, Part 6: Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery

Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery Historic Building

You’ll find a way to succeed.  You just have to fight for it.

Head Brewer Shares His Experiences Starting Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery in San Antonio, Texas

Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery opened in 2014 in what was originally Pearl Brewing Company’s brewhouse, built in 1894 and a San Antonio landmark ever since.  The restaurant portion of this brewery-restaurant is helmed by San Antonio Chef Jeff Balfour, who brings a modern take on Texas cross-cultural cuisine.  Head Brewer Les Locke, who discovered homebrewing in the Marines while stationed in Hawaii at the age of 19, recently shared the following thoughts with Portland Kettle Works regarding his experience at Southerleigh.

A recent Yelp review captures the customer experience at Southerleigh: “The interior is well decorated and rustic looking with all of their brewing equipment exposed on the 2nd floor. The smell of the place is right in your face, seafood and a hint of hops.” Stop in for a bite and a brew.

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New Smyrna Beach Brewing: Brings Home the Gold

Tanks and other brewing equipmentNew Smyrna Beach Brewery, From Homebrewer to Pro Brewer

New Smyrna Beach Brewing Wins 2 Gold Medals at the 2019 Best Florida Beer Professional Competition

New Smyrna Beach Brewing has been an amazing partner of Portland Kettle Works for 2 years now, and we are so happy to see they are getting some much deserved recognition. They recently purchased two new 10 bbl fermenters to fill out their cellar which will allow for so much more great, local beer. Make sure you stop in for a beer next time you’re in the Tampa Florida area. New Smyrna Beach is a “must-visit.”

New Smyrna Beach Brewing Taproom

Tampa FL, USA – During the 2019 Brewer’s Ball, the best craft brewers gathered to find out who would win gold, silver, and bronze in the most prestigious professional beer competition in Florida. With over 200 breweries in the state of Florida and 800 entries, only the best of the best would take home a medal and New Smyrna Beach Brewing Company took home two:

  • Gold Medal, Mixed Culture Brett, Three Sisters Saison
  • Gold Medal, Irish Red Ale, Feeding Frenzy Irish Red

New Smyrna Beach’s Three Sisters Saison went through a mixed culture fermentation and was aged in French white wine barrels for 10 months before undergoing bottle conditioning. It is available in 750 ml corked bottles which can only be purchased in the taproom located at 143 Canal Street. New Smyrna Beach Brewing Company’s Feeding Frenzy Irish Red is available in both the NSB taproom as well as local bars and restaurants in Volusia County.

Make sure you stop in for a beer next time you’re in the Tampa Florida area; New Smyrna Beach Brewing is a “must-visit.”

New Smyrna Beach Brewing Company is an independently owned brewery and taproom located on Canal Street in historic downtown New Smyrna Beach. Brewmaster Chris Coyle opened the brewery in January 2014 with the goal of bringing quality local craft beer to New Smyrna Beach. Specializing in beers brewed for the beach life style, the taproom offers 16 rotating beers on tap that are all brewed in-house. The brewery also distributes the gold medal Feeding Frenzy Irish Red as well as the infamous Shark Attack IPA to local bars and restaurants.

How to Start a Brewery:
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