Part nine in a series on the women who have risen to the top of Nevada’s burgeoning brewery industry
Humans have been drinking beer or similar drinks for several thousand years, but many do not realize early brewers were mainly women, making beer as one of their normal household tasks. However, by the 18th century the brewing gradually became a man’s job and women were relegated to roles as barmaids, pub operators, bottlers or secretaries for breweries.
Over time beer also came to be viewed as a man’s drink. Now with the craft beer renaissance and the realization and acceptance that beer can be enjoyed by all, more and more women choose beer as their drink of choice. They are also entering the beer business as brewers and brewery owner/operators.
In this series we delve into the backgrounds of several women—co-owner/operators, brewers and operations managers. These accomplished women are leaving their mark on the beer industry in Southern Nevada in occupations integral to the brewing business. Read on to discover the paths that led them to this field and the quite significant contributions they have made and continue to make.
Lauren Taylor—The Woman Driving Business to Nevada Brew Works
Lauren Taylor grew up in Chicago and earned a degree at Purdue University in Movement and Sports Sciences and later a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree at Touro. She had her sights set on working in medicine, with patients on motor skills and exercise physiology, and eventually worked as a physician assistant. But her life’s path would later take her elsewhere, transitioning into helping others appreciate fresh brewed beer.
Craft Beer Education
She grew up around beer and attributes her appreciation of craft beer to her father, Ken Hallyburton, who homebrewed for 25 years before turning his hobby into a profession. Her beer education was furthered after meeting her future husband, Jason Taylor, while both were students at Purdue. While in college the couple did what many students do, explore beer at bars on campus. Her beer appreciation was enhanced by her job at a bar named Chumley’s, a pub in Lafayette, Indiana, near the campus, which had 100 beers on tap. Working there for two years allowed her to experience a multitude of beer styles and flavors.
Lauren says, “I learned a lot more about beer by working there as a server and got to try all the beers.” As she experienced several different beer styles, Lauren developed a preference for Belgian styles. One of her favorites is the tripel, with Victory Golden Monkey, Unibroue La Fin du Monde, and Brewery Huyghe Delirium Tremens, standing out as some of her preferred representations of the style known for its malty sweet notes. Lauren and Jason developed a love for craft beer so serious that they chose a brewery for the setting of their wedding.
Nevada Brew Works Is Born
In 2009, after moving to Las Vegas with Jason to pursue his engineering career, the couple began to expand their passion for beer by planning to open their own brewery, a longtime dream. Jason as an engineer, and Lauren’s father, Ken, as a retired UPS diesel mechanic, could fix pretty much anything. This is quite a valuable attribute to have in operating a brewery where equipment often breaks down. In addition, Ken had studied brewing at the Siebel Institute of Technology, one of the most prestigious programs in the world for brewing studies. The couple would own the brewery while Ken (with Jason’s assistance) would brew the beer and keep the equipment working.
The decision risked their life savings and home mortgage to procure a loan and fulfill their dream to open Nevada Brew Works in the burgeoning Arts District. In addition to brewing beer, a brick oven would churn out pizzas and a kitchen would prepare burgers, sandwiches, wings and appetizers. The family-and-dog-friendly business would be one of only two breweries in the area to offer food. The opening would come when Las Vegas was thirsty for new breweries, and those openings had been flourishing, but the timing turned out not to be ideal, as the opening came on September 1, 2020, when the pandemic was still rearing its ugly head.
Another hurdle was running the business while also taking care of Ariana, their five-year-old daughter, who was born with Cerebral Palsy and Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder; her care involves multiple appointments for physical therapy and ample time. As it would turn out, the brewery would survive the trying days of the pandemic, and not only be the culmination of the couple’s dream, but a legacy for their beloved daughter. It would also demonstrate to her that with hard work and perseverance anything is possible.
The Ariana Rye Foundation and Connection to the Brewery
Here’s to drinking for a cause. From the very onset of Nevada Brew Works, the brewery and a non-profit charity the Taylors founded would go hand in hand. Named for their daughter, The Ariana Rye Foundation, helps families with children with any disability in need of essential medical equipment denied by insurance and exceeds the family’s financial means. From day one a portion of a particular beer’s sales has gone to the Foundation. The brew, Ariana Rye PA, is a crowd-pleasing rye pale ale. One dollar of each sale goes to the charity.
In addition, every quarter they feature a new beer, with a portion of its proceeds going to a child selected that is living with a life-altering disability. It’s commendable that the funds raised do not benefit the Taylors, and Lauren takes no salary for running the Foundation. The brewery’s motto is fitting: “We are a brewery that brews for a cause.”
Lauren’s Work as Marketing Director
Along with running The Ariana Rye Foundation, Lauren helps out as co-owner of the brewery. Her tasks include doing administrative duties, answering emails, evaluating and writing proposals for parties, and responding to comments on the website. She’s also bartending, running food and bussing tables when needed. But one of her main roles is that of Marketing Director. She keeps current on trends and posts frequently on Instagram and TikTok, taking pictures and filming videos promoting the brewery.
Lauren attributes their social media presence as a big factor in their success and finds it rewarding to see the fruits of her efforts: “I get people in here daily who point me out and say, ‘oh, my God, I saw you on TikTok,’ and they come in specifically because of that. We can see it on sales going up; there’s a direct correlation [to] what we sell after I post.” There are currently 23,000 followers on TikTok for Nevada Brew Works and 42,000 on Instagram for the Foundation; and a recent video got more than eight million views.
Accolades from Nevada Brew Works President Jason Taylor
Lauren’s business and life partner Jason Taylor is, not surprisingly, one of Lauren’s biggest fans. As President of Nevada Brew Works, he sees firsthand the results of her contributions. “Lauren’s contribution to the success of Nevada Brew Works can’t be emphasized enough,” he says. “Lauren utilizes her creativity, imaginativeness, and ingenuity to manifest original content used to captivate our core audience, which, in turn, creates new customers and retains existing ones.”
Looking to the Future and Opportunities for Women in Brewing
Lauren hopes to one day become part of the growing number of women brewers in Southern Nevada. She says, “I like to brew. Brewing is a difficult job; there is a lot of heavy labor involved, but I want to continue learning and hope to one day take over the role in brewing for my dad.” Aspirations for the brewery in the future include the possibility of expansion, and although she is not ready to share any info just yet, she promises some news is coming soon.
Follow this link to donate to the Ariana Rye Foundation. All donations are 100 percent tax deductible.
Feature photo by Dave Canela