One of the reasons we want to educate on this show and not just discuss is because of the story I’m about to tell you.
A couple of years ago we were getting ready to brew our first batch of beer, which Dustin and I lovingly refer to as “Disaster IPA.” So, when we went to pick up our brewing supplies, I realized that I needed what I thought was called a spatula. When I asked one of the home brew supply store’s employees where that was, he laughed at me and said, “Oh you mean a blah blah” and pointed me to it and then his other employees started laughing.
I say blah blah because I was so put off by his tone, that I completely glazed over his answer, and quickly checked out.
That beer spatula is actually called a stirring paddle or a mash paddle, and it’s used to stir the mash while brewing. Not surprisingly, it looks similar to a spatula, except that it’s a good deal longer and it has holes in the head.
There are also brewing spoons that serve the same purpose, but the advantage of the stirring paddle is that those holes in the head allow the paddle to easily break up the dough balls formed by dry pockets of malt.
These paddles can be made out of plastic, metal or wood. With plastic you should be careful because I’ve heard of them melting and make sure your wood ones have never been treated with wood stain or varnish, lest nasty chemicals seep into your beer. The only thing that should be used on your mash paddle is food grade oil that you would use on a wooden cutting board, although I’ve read that some people think that that oil can mess with your brew as well.
In the end, don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how simple, and if you know a lot, don’t be a beer bully.