The Women Who Brew Las Vegas: Meet Becca Halpin

Part four 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 business 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 local women—two co-owner/operators, a head brewer, a brewer, an assistant brewer and a brewery assistant. These accomplished women are leaving their mark on the beer industry in Southern Nevada in occupations integral to the brewing business. Discover the paths that led them to this field and the significant contributions they have made and continue to make.

Becca Halpin—From the Medical Profession to Customer Service to Brewing Beer

Becca Halpin is a native Las Vegan and graduate of Centennial High School. The 28-year-old initially attended trade college after high school to train for a job as a medical assistant. After earning her certificate and working in the field, she decided clerical work wasn’t for her. She followed it up with odd jobs at an optometrist office, in food service and spent five years at an airline customer service call center. Even though she did well in customer service, those positions weren’t the right fit either. Now she has found her true calling, as a brewer.

Developing the Love of Craft Beer and Path to Brewing

Becca got into craft beer when she was younger. She found craft beer to be more interesting than PBR and other mass-produced brews. After becoming curious about the production of beer, she tried homebrewing. However, she didn’t do that as much because it was too costly and time consuming. A friend, Marshall Lytle, who now brews at Big Dog’s, allowed her to help him homebrew a time or two.

Becca Halpin standing by the fermenter / Photo Credit Dave Canela

In September 2020, he told her Bad Beat was hiring. She applied for the assistant brewer position but was not hired. Six months later Becca was offered a job as a server in the taproom and was told accepting the job could get her foot in the door. It turned out to be true. She then branched out and divided her time between helping out at the brewery with canning, packaging, and other tasks while learning the ropes.

After Head Brewer Weston Barkley moved on and Amanda Koeller took his position, Becca’s training in brewing intensified. Now a year later, she does everything a brewer does except for recipe creation and brews batches solo. “We’ll see how it goes,” she says of her ambitions to one day become a head brewer. “Right now, I’m just going by ear, seeing how much I can learn as quickly as possible.”

At this Amanda Koeller jumps in and says, “She will be a head brewer someday, 100%. She’s the best brewing assistant I’ve ever had. She’s a sponge. Everything I tell her she absorbs and I don’t have to explain something twice. She gets it.”

Amanda Koeller and Becca Halpin at Bad Beat / Photo Credit Dave Canela

Details and Challenges of the Work

Becca does not have a typical work day as every day presents different jobs, including cleaning, canning, filtering, filling kegs, labeling and brewing. Surprisingly, she enjoys cleaning tanks, because of how conclusive it is and how quickly it can be completed and crossed off the list.

Her favorite thing about being a brewer is “being able to create something out of almost nothing. Taking something raw and simple and turning it into something else: science meets art.” Her favorite beer styles to brew are pilsners and IPAs, but her go-to is a pilsner. She says, “They’re both fairly simple and use a similar process except with IPAs I’m adding more hops.”

A challenge was getting used to the physical labor aspect but she has adapted. She has learned to do things easier and faster with daily experience. Being a woman in an industry historically dominated by men has not prevented her from being accepted. “I expected that to happen, but it hasn’t. The [brewing] community’s been really welcoming and helpful.”

Becca shares her thoughts on the future for women in this brewing industry moving forward.

“The more representation, acknowledge[ment] it gets, the more women want to be involved, the more people will start doing it themselves.”

In case you missed it, read the previous stories in this series featuring local women spearheading the brewing industry.

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