Thursday, August 27, 2015

Halston McMullan: Hustler of Houston Hops

by Blair "B-Rex" Loup

Halston McMullan, Louisiana Sales rep for St. Arnold Brewing Co.
Halston McMullan, Louisiana Sales rep for St. Arnold Brewing Co.

It all started with what sounds like a very Texas 21st birthday. Not deep in the heart of Texas (clap, clap, clap, clap), but somewhere in the shoulder in Lubbock, Halston McMullan chose Triple J Chophouse and Brewery for her birthday celebration.

It was there at Triple J that she had her first micro brewed IPA, and the next day, she applied for a job there.

"I had a palate for it,” Halston said, recalling how her passion for beer began.

Throughout her years at Texas Tech, the International Business major’s love for craft beer grew. Her curiosity intensified after she attended her first beer fest in Dallas.

She learned that people talked about beer for a living, groundbreaking news to Halston, and she made contacts to start a career in craft beer.

“It was never the end game to be in the game,” she said.

After graduating with her business degree, she applied for jobs at marketing firms and corporations while her mom took her shopping for pantsuits, but Halston didn’t see pant suits in her future. It turns out she was right.
The contacts she made at the beer festival resulted in a job doing tastings in grocery stores.

“It felt very natural to me,” Halston said. A month into that gig, she began seeking out sales positions.

She went to St. Arnold (Patron Saint of Craft Beer) for answers and spied a position open for Louisiana Sales based in New Orleans. Halston had never stepped foot in Louisiana, but applied for the job ready to take on a challenge.

“I like proving adaptability to myself.”

While she knew she would be selling beer in a state that loves to drink, she recognized she needed to learn beer from a sales perspective.

“Two years later, I feel like I’ve got it down!”

Being a rep for a brand that isn’t technically local has proven challenging. St. Arnold’s isn’t produced in Louisiana and isn’t distributed nationally, so there’s no Scrooge McDuck pool of money labeled “Marketing Budget” to help push product.

“It comes down to the relationships I’ve built,” she explained, “staying relevant in this market is tough.”

Despite Louisiana’s loyalty to products made in-state, last year St. Arnold had only a two and a half states in their distribution, but were still making Top 50 lists by volume.

“The more I learn about this company and the more I have to fight for it, the more it becomes a part of me. I didn’t know I’d be so proud.”

This post is part of monthly series spotlighting Louisiana women in the business of booze. Previous features include:

Natalie Parbhoo: Duchess of Distribution
Lindsay Nations: Baroness of Beer
Dori Murvin: Sorceress of Service
Nora McGunnigle: Headmistress of Hops
Myrna Arroyo: Vino Valedictorian
Brandi Lauck: Warden of Whiskey
Cari Caramonta: Mother of Malts
Erin White: Priestess of Pairing
Beth Donner: Dame of Distilling

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