Turning Something out of Nothing
Many great innovations came out of the economic turmoil of 2008. Portland Kettle Works (PKW) is one of these innovative ventures, started by Thad Fisco. Fisco worked in construction doing architectural and structural steel work, among other things. After 2008, he pared down his operation, kept his metal shop and opened his services beyond construction. It was here that he encountered a number of local brewers who requested help modifying their tanks.
Not long after, Fisco created his own brewing system, which sold out within just a few months of opening PKW in 2011. He has been 100% dedicated to the brewing industry niche ever since.
The brewing systems that PKW creates include all phases of the brewing process, from grain mills, to full Brew House and Glycol Chiller systems, with electronic components from URS Electronics incorporated in each system. A number of sensors and controls are used within the brewing system in order to monitor product temperatures and brewing times. While PKW caters to the craft brewers, where brewing is still a hands on, step-by-step process, they have developed an innovative Automated Glycol Chiller system. This automated monitoring system allows the brewer to monitor, make adjustments and receive alerts through an alarm system on their network at the brewery or remotely on a smart phone or tablet, helping to create consistency between batches.
Fisco said that his main competitor is the inexpensive, offshore brewing system. He has had numerous experiences where PKW is called to help clean up the poorly functioning equipment. Fisco prides himself on hiring great engineers and skilled workers for his All-American-Made products.
The brewing industry is ever changing. Just 10 years ago, Kolsch and Berliner Weisse were unknown brews; now, you can easily find both. Fisco keeps a close eye on the way brewers are leading the charge to continuously evolve the industry and makes sure Portland Kettle Works is right in step with what’s going on.
More recently, PKW opened its own brewery called the Labrewatory on NE Russell. This is the place where Fisco gets to do his R&D and showcase PKW’s own equipment in the brewing process. It’s also a place where you will find some of the most unique and tasty, experimental brews in town. Here, PKW customers can gain hands on experience testing PKW built products, along with the help of their own Brew Master, brewers can create experimental beers including a range of ingredients and techniques they dare not try within their own facility. In fact, squid ink has been featured as an ingredient several times. The Labrewatory Tap Room is open to the public, so feel free to check out their website for hours and information about what’s on tap.
- Melissa Cikara, URS Electronics