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Old 09-20-2011, 01:42 PM   #1
BradleyBrew
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Default How to Make a Mash Paddle

Hey everyone, sorry but i couldnt find a lot of info about making a mash paddle. What type of wood is recommended? Dimensions? Any help would be great!



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Old 09-20-2011, 04:40 PM   #2
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The best woods are the hardest, densest woods with the smallest, tightest grain. This ensures that there are a minimum of places for bacteria or other wild critters to hide themselves (make everything as SMOOTH as possible, too). It also tends to mean you're selecting from some of the strongest, stiffest woods (which is good, because thick mash is HEAVY). If you are concerned about flavor contribution from the wood, stick to woods that are already used for smoking malts, aging barrels, or in foods (oak, beech, cherry, birch, maple, etc.).

If you're making your own, your shape and size should suit your mashtun. Curve a corner so you can match your profile and scrape everything clean. Leave your shaft at least 3/4" in diameter for strength. I recommend a T-shaped handle end for more leverage (like a canoe paddle). To gauge your length, use an upside down broom handle in your mashtun/kettle and note where both hands need to be to get good leverage and not touch the liquid level.

I made mine out of a 3.5" wide and 3/4" thick piece of cherry I had laying around.



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Old 09-29-2011, 03:40 PM   #3
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my local hardwood shop had some 4" x 36" x 3/4" maple for $5

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Old 10-02-2011, 01:34 AM   #4
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I made this one today from a 1x6x36 inch maple board from Home Depot. I think it came out nice.




The blades measures 4 1/2" x 16". The entire paddle is 36" long.

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Old 10-03-2011, 10:39 PM   #5
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Here is how I did mine:
http://jeffreycrane.blogspot.com/2011/02/brewing-equipment-mash-paddle-free.html

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Old 10-03-2011, 10:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkBrood View Post
The best woods are the hardest, densest woods with the smallest, tightest grain. This ensures that there are a minimum of places for bacteria or other wild critters to hide themselves (make everything as SMOOTH as possible, too). It also tends to mean you're selecting from some of the strongest, stiffest woods (which is good, because thick mash is HEAVY). If you are concerned about flavor contribution from the wood, stick to woods that are already used for smoking malts, aging barrels, or in foods (oak, beech, cherry, birch, maple, etc.).

If you're making your own, your shape and size should suit your mashtun. Curve a corner so you can match your profile and scrape everything clean. Leave your shaft at least 3/4" in diameter for strength. I recommend a T-shaped handle end for more leverage (like a canoe paddle). To gauge your length, use an upside down broom handle in your mashtun/kettle and note where both hands need to be to get good leverage and not touch the liquid level.

I made mine out of a 3.5" wide and 3/4" thick piece of cherry I had laying around.
Just a quick question, Why does it matter if you get bacteria in your mash when your going to kill them all anyway in the boil?
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Old 10-04-2011, 12:30 PM   #7
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In the old days before they knew about yeast, brewers in Europe used a special stirring stick that "magically" kicked off the ferment - direct proof how how active critters can be that are living in wood grain. (Barrel-aged sours are another good example.)

Where do you store YOUR mash paddle? I'm guessing it's with your other brew equipment. Do you really want to take the chance of them migrating into your hoses or other gear? People keep their sour equipment separate for a reason....

I suppose you could store it elsewhere or wrapped in plastic (but it may mold...nasty off-flavors). Personally, I find it's easy enough to spend a few extra minutes selecting a good tight-grained hardwood and a few extra minutes sanding to reduce the risks....YMMV.

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Old 10-04-2011, 11:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkBrood View Post
In the old days before they knew about yeast, brewers in Europe used a special stirring stick that "magically" kicked off the ferment - direct proof how how active critters can be that are living in wood grain. (Barrel-aged sours are another good example.)

Where do you store YOUR mash paddle? I'm guessing it's with your other brew equipment. Do you really want to take the chance of them migrating into your hoses or other gear? People keep their sour equipment separate for a reason....

I suppose you could store it elsewhere or wrapped in plastic (but it may mold...nasty off-flavors). Personally, I find it's easy enough to spend a few extra minutes selecting a good tight-grained hardwood and a few extra minutes sanding to reduce the risks....YMMV.
Yeah but don't you kill all bacteria when you boil? Which comes after the mash?

I get what your saying when storing a wooden mash paddle next to you bottling equip. either way I sanitize everything prior to use, My mash paddle is a plastic food safe spoon. I store it with everything else. Sorry I'm probably missing something. Cool Mash paddle either way
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:44 AM   #9
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Do you varnish a wooden mash paddle? Wouldn't that help to keep all the critters from getting into the wood? Or is there too much chance of chemicals from the varnish ending up in the beer?

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Old 10-05-2011, 01:02 PM   #10
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Do you varnish a wooden mash paddle?
Oh, ye gods! Absolutely not!!! The thing to remember is that anything that gets on or soaks into your mash paddle WILL come back out...Murphy's Law at its best. "Anything that can go wrong, will - and at the worst possible moment." That is part of why wood selection is so important. If you use loose-grained softwoods, the resins and oils will leach out into your mash (even faster if you put it in the boil). The same goes for coatings. Remember that you're sticking it in a relatively high-temperature acidic solution - something that will soften nearly any coating.

I've heard mention of some folks using mineral oils and such for protection, but IMHO it's not worth the risk of messing something up.

You can also temper/seal the surface of hardwood fairly effectively by lightly burning/braising it. The easiest way to do this is to use a handheld blowtorch and move it lightly back and forth until the wood darkens and picks up a little shine (you don't want to see charring or new micro-cracks appearing). Buff it thoroughly with a clean rag, soak in hot water for a bit, buff again, and let it dry out completely. This will help prevent the mash liquid (and critters) from soaking into the wood (this is the original way to harden wooden spear and arrow tips)...it can also be a way to clean/treat a wooden paddle that you suspect might have become infected. Things to be aware of, however, are that (a) it will likely contribute a small amount of smoky character to your mash, (b) the charring/buffing process is messy and could set off smoke alarms, and (c) even after much buffing, the charred areas could still leave black marks behind on your hands or gear (can be especially tough to get off of plastics) and that char residue can be oily.

From the comments and photo above, you can see that a homemade mash paddle is both cheap and a relatively easy project (if you know some basic woodworking) and if it has a problem, another can be easily made.

As has been pointed out, it's just the mash and everything will go into the boil later and be sterilized, so don't bust yourself up overthinking it. Choose your wood well and don't leave your paddle sitting in the mash forgotten about if you can help it - long soaks in ANYthing is never good for wood (just look at those splitting wooden spoons/spatulas that SWMBO yelled at ya for leaving soaking in the wash basin)...


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SERVING: Gryffon's Talon, Tavernacle
CONDITIONING: Ancient Queen Elderberry Mead
FERMENTING: Black Imp
SOUR PROGRAM: Misterioux Ayahel, Ommedubbel, Pucker Knight, Lambicus Minimus

Last edited by DarkBrood; 10-05-2011 at 03:11 PM. Reason: typo correction
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