St. Patrick’s Day, or feast day of St. Patrick, celebrates the patron saint of Ireland, who wasn’t there by choice. He was kidnapped at 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave but escaped, only to return and convert the Irish to Christianity in 432 C.E. He died on March 17, 461, after establishing monasteries, churches, and schools in Ireland.
Irish Americans transformed St. Patrick’s Day into a more secular holiday for celebrating all things Irish. Boston held its first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1737. Chicago has dyed its river green every St. Patrick’s Day since 1962, even though blue was the color traditionally associated with Saint Patrick. Now you’ll likely find your favorite pub serving corned beef and cabbage slow cooked in Guinness Draught (established in 1759) and beer dyed green for the holiday.
Beer was a popular beverage in Ireland long before it became popular around the world, and beer brewing has long been a part of Irish culture. The ingredients for brewing beer were readily available in Ireland and became an important part of the economy as a food preservative. By the beginning of the 19th century, there were over 200 breweries in Ireland. As of 2019, Ireland ranked seventh amongst all nations in beer consumption per capita, so let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day switches that will help you brew your own green beer for the holiday.
Beer requires just four ingredients: malted barley, water, hops, and yeast. Combining the ingredients at the right proportions is essential to brewing beer you want to drink, however. That’s why you’ll need a large digital scale for measuring the barley, and another small scale for measuring hops, yeast, and any salt additions you add for flavor.
Large digital scales generally have a platform measuring 8 inches by 6.5 inches for weighing a full sack of grains weighing up to 55 pounds. Smaller digital scales, or pocket scales, tend to have a removable cover that can be used as a platform for measuring hops and salts. Both scales utilize tactile switches for turning the scale on and off, zeroing the scale, and changing the units of measurement. Some scales also feature a hold function, so the scale doesn’t automatically power down when not in use.
All three buttons use the same switch, which has ample tactile feedback to assure the user they’ve actuated the switch. And since they’ll be used in the kitchen where spills can occur, a sealed, surface mount tact switch with a long life expectancy like the TL6700 Series is ideal.
The TL6700 Series tactile switch has audible tactile feedback and has an IP67 rating for maximum protection against dust and moisture. With a life expectancy of up to 500,000 cycles, it’s a perfect fit for consumer electronics like kitchen scales requiring switches that survive as long or longer than the device they serve.
The secret to great beer is good mash, and the key to good mash is controlling mash temperature. You heat your mash to pull starches from the grain and turn them into sugars to feed your yeast during fermentation. This typically happens at temperatures ranging from 146°F and 156°F (63°C and 69°C). While a glass thermometer will get the job done, a digital thermometer provides a more precise reading and a digital display that’s much easier to read.
Most digital thermometers feature miniature on-off switches, a hold button for setting maximum and minimum temperatures to avoid automatic shutdown due to inactivity, and a button for setting the brightness of the display. Again, since these thermometers are subjected to liquids, a sealed switch like the TL6800 Series is a great fit.
The TL6800 Series is a surface mount tact switch sealed at an IP67 rating for dust and moisture protection. More importantly, these tact switches can handle the heat in the kitchen, with operating temperature ranges from -40 to 90°C. Hot spills nor cold chills will keep this tact switch from doing its job.
Again, a traditional glass hydrometer will work for monitoring your fermentation process if you can check it regularly. But if you travel for work and can’t keep an eye on your beer daily, there are digital hydrometers that send real-time gravity testing results and temperatures to your smartphone. There’s no need to power it on either. Just drop it in and watch the results roll in on your digital device.
Of course, you’ll need a switch for powering on your digital device and reading your hydrometer’s readings. The TL4105 Series right angle, surface mount tact switch is a great fit for digital devices. Its compact design measures 2.9mm by 4.8mm, and it sits on the edge of the PC board where most buttons are installed in digital devices like smartphones and tablets.
This St. Patrick’s Day, make your own green beer and celebrate the switches that allow you to do so. If your beer isn’t an enjoyable beverage, you can always buy corned beef and cabbage on sale after the holiday and cook with it.