Make a name

Co-owner and Will Whipple stands atop the brewing deck.

Co-owner and Will Whipple stands atop the brewing deck.

Photo/Eric Marks

One last summer hurrah before school started meant camping. A campfire discussion about technology—or lack of it—when roughing it had me pondering an identity crisis faced by modern people: the contradiction of using modern conveniences like bottled propane and LED headlamps while otherwise mimicking Lewis and Clark, pretending no cell coverage equals primitive savagery. Why do we try to recreate a time when life was so much harder? We’ve gone through generations of innovation and progress, yet still willingly like to play Daniel Boone. I’m guilty, but I don’t understand it.

Despite plentiful beers at the campsite, I looked forward to a brewery visit upon returning home. I rewarded my post-trip unpacking labors at the newest addition to Reno’s breweries.

I had eagerly awaited the opening of Whipple Brewing and Distilling since last fall. Now, just barely two months open, it felt like beer nerd eternity. A new, local brewery and distillery is pretty exciting, but the initial limited hours just didn’t fit my drinking schedule. I’d been following along online and hearing about it from other people, but while I hadn’t heard much about the beers or spirits, the two things I had heard were how amazing the facility looked and how confused people were.

Long in the works and finally open, the name has been changed to Mill Street Still and Brew. State and city records and a handsome metal sign over the bar still proclaim the Whipple name, and our recently hired bartender made clear, Will Whipple is still the man at the helm.

Speaking of handsome metal, the facility was, as promised, a stunning place to visit. Shiny tanks filled the brewing and distilling operations, visible through a large viewing window near the bar. An industrial metal-and-wood aesthetic dominated the taproom, from the oversized entry door to the giant garage door open to a side patio. A large chalkboard listed current draft choices.

According to a June Facebook post, Mill Street’s line of beers will be dubbed Micron, referring to their “unique filtering processes,” while their spirits will be marketed under the 10 Torr brand—torr is a measure of atmospheric pressure, alluding to their unusual vacuum distillation process. I love the science of brewing and distilling, and lowering the ethanol boiling point by removing air pressure is about as science-y as it gets. The room-temperature distillation apparently stops unwanted heat-induced reactions and harshness.

For those keeping score, we have Whipple Brewing and Distilling Co. operating the Mill Street Still and Brew, which produces Micron beers and 10 Torr Spirits. I think—even the bartender was unclear.

My wife and I enjoyed a full range of beers, hefeweizen to honey blonde, IPA to brown ale. I found each to be a fine example of its style. The lone spirit available was 10 Torr vodka, smooth to sip even neat, and a steal at $20 a bottle. Our bartender explained that gin is in progress and coming soon, but whiskey will be a few years. It’s aging in barrels now.

The quality is good, the products enjoyable, and the place is gorgeous. They have embraced modern technology. Now if Whipple/Mill Street/Micron/10 Torr can resolve the confusing identity crisis, their addition to local beer and booze is welcome.