Part six 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.
Amanda Payan—Transitioning the Family Business from Construction to Beer Making
Amanda Payan began working in the family insurance restoration/construction business when she was 11-years-old. It was a summer job filing paperwork to earn money for her school clothes. In high school, the native Las Vegan attended A-Tech, majoring in business and finance, learning useful skills for working in the family’s enterprise.
Her parents, Chris and Sandy Payan, hoped that she and her younger brother Matthew would one day take over the family business. But little did they know that venture would transition from construction to brewing beer.
How Plans for a Brewery Came to Fruition
Amanda’s father shared his love for craft beer and on her 21st birthday rewarded her with a visit to his favorite brewery: Tenaya Creek. Soon after, her best friend got into beer, and together they began exploring the different craft breweries in town and trying as many beer styles as they could find.
During what she calls a “beercation” trip to Denver with her father and brother, as they visited several warehouses converted into breweries, it dawned on them that theirs could be outfitted to do the same. It was also around the time Chris and Sandy were readying to retire, so the dream of starting a professional brewery was set in motion.
After the decision was made to open a brewery in the family’s warehouse, it would take over two years to complete the transition, which was delayed by both the pandemic and the ensuing supply chain issues.
Finally, North 5th Brewing opened on Dec. 10, 2021. Although the address is actually 60 W. Mayflower, the name was selected for the site’s proximity to the iconic street known as a main thoroughfare in North Las Vegas.
The opening of North 5th welcomed two firsts: the first brewery ever to open in North Las Vegas and the first in the state of Nevada to be owned by a Hispanic woman.
Chris graciously loaned his children the money to open the business, with Amanda holding 52% and Matthew 48% ownership. Having her as the majority partner helped obtain grants as both a minority and woman small business owner.
As for acquiring an accomplished brewer, the family called on Patrick Tofte to serve as Head Brewer. Tofte had been brewing at Banger Brewing, and they connected during their frequent visits to one of their favorite local breweries. Patrick’s brother Sam was also brought on as Assistant Brewer, adding to the family-oriented business plan.
The Role and Challenges of a Brewery Co-owner
Amanda’s role as president includes several tasks comparable to the ones she handled while working for her family’s business: running daily operations, hiring staff, handling payroll, purchasing supplies, setting up new accounts and paying bills.
But the new hospitality aspect brings additional duties, such as dealing with Health Department regulations, selecting the guest beers and monitoring beer fermentation (which she does with both Patrick and Matthew). She’s quick to point out that she works very closely together with her brother Matthew and neither of them make a major decision without talking it over first.
She also has familiarized herself with every job in the brewery, including the brewing process. “I can’t ask somebody to do something unless I know how to do it myself,” she quips. “That’s what my dad always taught us.”
When asked what she likes best about running a brewery Amanda says, “I really love the brewing community. That has been by far the best part of this whole thing. I’ve never had a job where I can call someone and say, ‘Hey, I need something,’ and they offer whatever they can to help.”
Challenges have included sales people suggesting it might be better for them to talk about certain products with her brother, assuming she wouldn’t understand. This is an insulting insinuation that she also experienced in the construction business.
Her Favorite Brews
On tap at the brewery there are 15 beers brewed onsite and five guest beers from other local breweries. As she particularly enjoys Irish reds for their bold full-bodied maltiness without the heaviness of a stout, the brewery’s Seein’ Dublin appeals to her taste and is also inspired by the trip to Ireland she took with her brother years ago.
She also prefers IPAs, which she enjoys for their bitterness and different hop characteristics like North 5th’s Flor de Mayo. It’s a West Coast IPA with Mosaic hops giving flavors of tropical fruit, berries, citrus and pine; and additions of Amarillo and Cascade leading to more complexity and added citrus, grapefruit and spice.
Words on Women in the Beer Industry
The future appears to be promising for women in the beer industry. Amanda is also a board member of the Pink Boots Society, an organization she sees as instrumental in bringing more women into the brewing business. The Society is made up of women in any aspect of the beer industry (such as servers, brewers, owners and bar managers) who periodically brew together, learning and performing every step of the brewing process.
Amanda shared, “A lot of brewery owners have reached out [to Pink Boots] when they had job opportunities wanting to diversify [and hire more women]. They are taking into consideration that women’s participation is growing.”
She also sees North 5th as a welcoming place for women, or anyone, who loves beer: “I am over the moon seeing women coming in as regular customers, coming in to read a book and see our brewery as a warm environment that is inviting to craft beer lovers.”
The future looks bright for North 5th, as the brewery’s draft beers are now being distributed to more than 15 restaurants and bars throughout Southern Nevada and will soon begin canning. For more information and its full lineup of beers, visit www.north5thbrewingco.com.
Interested in learning more about inspiring local women in the beer making industry? Meet Paige Holehouse.