Discovering and documenting Nevada beer, booze, and food

Wob Wanhatalo, brewer

*Originally published Feb. 8, 2013. Moved up for potential interest in Nevada Brews.

Wob Wanhatalo will never get to see someone milk a penguin like he wants, but he does high five his cats after making an awesome beer.

Wanhatalo is the head brewer at the Mitten Brewing Co., recently brewing up one heck of an IPA with his Country Strong. He knows when he makes a good brew.

“I leave work and I just want to go home and high five my cats,” he said.

But he knows not every beer will be great, and no beer ever will be perfect. He uses taste buds as a canvas, and no two people have the same tastes buds.

He sees endless possibilities with the various types of beers and ingredients he can use. The way he can tease the eyes, nose and mouth are infinite.

“Craft brewing is about playing with things until you get it right,” he said. “It’s an art form. It’s not about how big your tanks are, but what comes out of them.”

He knows a lot of people don’t like their jobs; it’s a shame. He loves going to work. He follows his passion every day, taking on a new challenge with the sunrise. He doesn’t brew every day. But the days he spends cleaning the tanks and waiting, he thinks about the next successful batch he’ll produce.

On those days, he walks from the brewhouse up front to the taphouse; two completely different worlds.

“It’s going to the front and seeing a person enjoying the beer I produced,” he said. “Seeing that the place is full and pushing the building to its limits.”

Wanhatalo followed the path most are “supposed” to follow in their lives.

“I went to school, got a degree, but I got lucky,” he said. “Most people do something because society told them to do it.

“Some people like ice fishing, home brewing, kinky sex stuff. I got lucky and get paid for my hobby.”

We’re all born a product of some “sweet, sweet love,” and about 90 percent of us are here to make the world a better place to live he said. Whether that’s by making beer to enjoy or fixing the roads or writing an entertaining blog, it’s about being happy at the end of the day.

“Once you get to a point, it’s all about self-fulfillment and self-indulgence,” he said. “For me, it’s knowing I did a job well done and walk out and see someone enjoying a mug of my beer. That makes me smile.”

Unfortunately for Wanhatalo, he’ll never have the pleasure of seeing a penguin being milked.

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