A Mash Fork was a traditional brewing tool used to manually mix the mash during mashing in to ensure even heat distribution and uniform viscosity and to break up dough balls formed during mashing. Usually made of a hardwood such as beech or maple, a mash fork, with its open lattice design, was able to move easily through a thick mash without risk of breaking. The mash fork played a role similar to that of the lauter rakes in a larger modern brewery.
Before the introduction of what we think of as modern brewing equipment and techniques, brewers had to make do with undermodified and inconsistently milled malts and poor temperature control, sometimes leading to gummy mashes that would not run off properly. Skillful use of a well-made mash rake could make the difference between a successful brewing session and a useless mass of wasted grain. Today, the mash fork is largely a thing of the past, although the occasional enthusiastic craft brewer still has one made. They also live on as an evocative symbol of traditional brewing and form part of many heraldic-style symbols used by brewer’s guilds and associations, including the Master Brewers Association of the Americas.