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Siblings brew up North Las Vegas’ first brewery

Updated November 5, 2021 - 3:37 pm

Siblings Amanda and Matthew Payan took an old adage and turned it on its ear: Life gave them a restoration company, and they’re making beer.

“My brother and I have worked for our family business since we were 15 years old,” Amanda Payan said. “Three years ago, Dad said he was ready to retire and wanted to turn the business over to us.”

Elite Restoration was a mitigation company, doing insurance restoration and construction work. While it wasn’t the kind of business the younger Payans wanted to have, they saw plenty of potential in its warehouse. And so, luckily, did their father.

“Dad said if we could get the city to let us have a taproom on site, we could change businesses,” she said.

Which brings us to North 5th Brewing Co., which they expect to open in December at 60 W. Mayflower Ave., near Cheyenne Avenue and Commerce Street. It’ll be North Las Vegas’ first brewery.

Amanda and Matthew Payan have long been into beer, and their father gets credit for that.

“When we turned 21, our dad took us to Tenaya Creek,” said Amanda, who’s 32; Matthew’s 28. “It was a tradition.” One that would turn into a hobby and then a business.

“We obviously fell in love with beer,” she said. “We’ve been able to do beercations. We love going to Colorado, and we saw they had warehouses like ours where they had successful breweries. We were able to meet with the owners and pick their brains. We sat down and wrote out a business plan, and everything worked out.”

While they were avid home brewers, they knew they’d need a professional to handle the brewing on a commercial level. So they hired Patrick Tofte, formerly of Banger Brewing, as head brewer. Tofte’s brother, Sam, is the assistant brewer.

“We kind of loved that it was a business that was family owned and family operated,” Payan said.

North 5th Brewing Co. may be the first craft brewery in North Las Vegas, but it’s the 23rd in the metropolitan area, said Bob Barnes, a local food writer who’s written about beer since 1998. “That’s if you include the tiny one at the Mob Museum,” he said.

And if that seems like a lot, Barnes said to consider this: Las Vegas’ current population is around 2.3 million. San Diego — which, he acknowledged, has an optimum natural and economic environment for craft breweries — has a population of 3.3 million, and more than 150 breweries.

He also noted that most Las Vegas craft brewers have expanded recently, adding equipment to increase production.

“If you asked me five or 10 years ago if we could support more than 20 breweries, I would have said I’m not so sure,” Barnes said. “But I feel differently because of what’s happened recently. There’s been a marked increase of support not only from the residents but also tourists.

“Something I would add is, five to 10 years ago, it would be very rare to see a Las Vegas brewery being poured in the casinos on the Strip. Now, it’s the opposite. It’s very unusual to find someplace on the Strip that doesn’t offer at least one local brew.”

For instance, he said, his recent research revealed beers by 11 local breweries being poured at four places in The Linq Promenade alone. Barnes said it’s particularly important that tourist-oriented properties like those on the Strip offer local brews.

“If you’re a beer guy or a beer girl and you go on vacation and you see a local beer you’re never going to be able to get again,” he said, “chances are you’re going to want to try it.”

He said North 5th won’t have much neighborhood competition, since the closest brewery, Big Dog’s Brewing Co., is more than 7 miles away.

“I would say it’s mainly people who live in that area” who will frequent the new spot, he said, “and there are quite a few neighborhoods they can drive from. And there’s a thriving community of people who seek out local breweries.”

When they do, they’ll find a 730-square-foot taproom carved out of a 5,000-square-foot warehouse.

“We like that it’s small and intimate,” Amanda Payan said. “People will be able to see into the brewing area, seeing the brewers working and the equipment.”

The look will be rustic industrial, she said, with a lot of wood under open trusses. She and Matthew sanded and treated the pine for the bar top themselves.

They also have a membership program, accessible at north5thbrewingco.com. Those who join can get exclusive beers and an invitation to a special opening party.

In the taproom, they plan to have 15 of their own beers on draft, many of which will carry names of some significance to them — for example, one named after their grandmother’s birthplace of Fiero, New Mexico, and one that will have the old name for the North Las Vegas Airport, Sky Haven. And they plan to have five other local brews on tap.

“We want to support local,” Payan said, “because the local community has helped us so much.”

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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