Hand Crafted for a Son

Every time Bob Rolling makes a batch of beer, one barrel at a time, his father Joe is a part of the creation. Spending countless hours in his wood shop, making toys, footballs and bats, Joe Rolling, who was an avid sports fan, crafted a mash paddle for his son Bob in 2012.

Bob had been an avid home brewer, handing out samples at the holidays and sharing his beers with his dad. Although Joe was more of a macro beer beer guy, like the rest of his generation, he shared his thoughts with Bob on what he liked and didn’t like about each brew his son had cooked up.

While Bob was finishing up the paperwork for opening his Lake Time Brewery in Clear Lake, Iowa, Joe found his way to the hospital. Already living with heart issues and diabetes, Joe came down with appendicitis which was an issue with his colon. While laid up, he and Bob worked on plans for the brewery.

“He would help with ideas of where things should go in the brewery,” Bob said.

Bob mentioned he would like a new mash paddle. He showed his dad a picture of what one looked like and Joe got to work.

“He was one of those guys where you could give him a picture of what you wanted, and he would make it,” Bob said. “He would either make it the same, or better.”

Bob probably likes to think it’s better rather than any old mash paddle. Ten holes run through the end and Bob has used it for every batch since the brewery opened in June, 2013. The taproom has seen about 250 barrels per year flow through the taps for the first-ever brewery located in Clear Lake, a vacation town two hours south of Minneapolis that has about 8,000 residents in the winter and twice that in the summer with tourists.

All the beer from those taps been touched by Joe’s mash paddle. Joe came through his ailments and was cleared to go home after asking to be out of hospice before Christmas in 2012.

Joe Rolling — a retired construction worker, a father of seven, a grandfather of eight and a friend to many — got home a week before his 68th birthday on Dec. 22, 2012.

Joe went to bed that night and never woke up.

“We still don’t know exactly what happened,” Bob said. “We probably never will.”

Yes, Joe Rolling never picked up a bag of grain to mash in, knew what the original gravity of a beer was or understood the differences in yeast, but he knew he loved his son. Now, that paddle, cracks and all, mashes in every day at Lake Time.

Should it be on a wall? Showing off the craftsmanship and love of a father to his son?


But Joe wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

“It is special to me, and it has a crack in the top of the handle, but it never gets any worse,” Bob said. “But he would rather have me use it than stick it on a shelf. ‘Use it until you can’t use it anymore.’ That’s the way he was raised.”

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