Four ways the construction process is like brewing beer

November 21, 2016
November 21, 2016 Nate Semsch

Four ways the construction process is like brewing beer

This beer season (or autumn, as some call it), I had the opportunity to savor a delicious Oktoberfest from our friends at 56 Brewing. As I was thinking about the work that went into this particular Marzen-style lager, it hit me: the construction process is not so different. Continuing to savor the delicious brew, I came up with four distinct ways it parallels brewing beer. I’ve listed them here to give you insight into how our process works:

You can’t start without a plan.
Brewing beer is not “add a little of this, a little of that”; it requires a well-thought-out recipe. In fact, some breweries even have laboratories that break down the chemical process of their recipes to ensure it is perfect time and time again. Likewise, the first step in our process is design. While we don’t go to the lab, we do rely on architects and engineers to put together a set of plans. With these in hand, we work with a team of really smart people to make sure the project follows each one to spec.

Adaptability is key.
If something goes wrong during the brewing process, a brewer’s first reaction is never to toss the whole batch! They do their best to salvage the beer, which is the same approach we take when hurdles arise on projects. Whether it’s delayed materials, subcontractor snafus, or the good ol’ Minnesota weather, we don’t throw up our hands; we find ways to keep the project forging ahead.

Repetition is the name of the game.
Just like in brewing, construction essentially requires the same steps on each project. There’s a certain order we must follow no matter what. For example, we can’t install plumbing fixtures before we put up walls, just like a brewer can’t bottle a beer without fermenting it. And in both processes, there’s something new to learn every time—something that can be carried on to the next beer or building.

It’s really, really fun.
Brewing beer and constructing buildings are two hands-on activities that give you something to show for your work. Even though I’ve been in this business for a long time, I still get a kick out of seeing a major project milestone take shape. It’s incredibly satisfying, much like our brewery friends describe the first tasting pour from a tank. But the absolute best step in brewing and construction is the very end: watching customers’ faces light up after taking a sip of your beer or walking awed clients through their newly finished building. Both call for raising a glass.