Pug Ryan’s Next Chapter with John & Judy Jordan

Pug Ryans' owners John and Judy Jordan
After 17 years in Denver, John and Judy Jordan moved to Exit 205 in the spring of 2017 as the new owners of Pug Ryan’s, a beloved brewpub in Dillon since 1975. “It was always in our focus to do our own thing beer-wise at some point,” says John. “We initially thought we’d build ground up. When Judy came across this opportunity (to buy Pug Ryan’s), it seemed like the right thing to do.”
The Jordans met in Kansas City, where John was working at a small brewpub. They moved to Maryland, and then in 2000, Breckenridge Brewery brought John out to Denver, where he wore many hats from brewing and running the bottling line to his last six years overseeing the quality control lab. Today, the husband-wife team lives in Silverthorne and spends their days running Pug Ryan’s, with Judy overseeing all the books and distribution, and John keeping the beer and food up to snuff.

According to JOHN

They’re making really good beer up here, so there was no reason to change anything. We’re rolling with their core brands, and we’re also trying to do more seasonals and one-off beers.

We’ve learned Pug Ryan’s is more the locals’ place than ours because they’ve been coming here way longer. They’ve been super welcoming. They tell us stories about Pug’s and Dillon, and how important the place is to them. People they don’t know sit at the bar, and they welcome them right in.

We put it out there when we first met our staff. They asked, “What kind of changes are you going to make?” One thing we’re doing is showcasing more local art. In the dining room, we’re currently showing two local photographers immediately to the left when you walk in and in the back dining area.

We run the Tiki Bar, too. It’s a beachfront bar in the middle of the mountains. It reminds me of the bars on the Jersey Shore where boats would pull up and everyone would come in.

I was surprised by how much the lake draws people up here. It’s a second season. Everyone’s hiking or mountain biking. When we first got here, Chris—our bartender—said he was going on vacation and hiked for two weeks straight. He said he’d be out in the woods and not see anybody for two days. I think that’s what makes this place unique: the people up here and the lifestyles they lead.

I snowboard, and Judy skis. I like Keystone the best.

If there’s an everyday beer, it’d be the Pilsner. It’s won five Great American Beer Festival medals, which is a big number for one beer. It’s really palatable—not heavy or overhopped.

ACCORDING TO JUDY

We have a really strong beer culture. You can come here and go to six breweries in one small area. It’s unique. And it’s not competitive. We just kind of coexist. If you need hops, come over and get some. Need something? Done. We just help each other out.

We’re looking forward to next summer when the amphitheatre opens. You could come up here as a family and spend very little money; it’s all reasonably priced. Bike riding is free. Concerts are free. Sitting and looking at the water is free. People think going to the mountains is so expensive, but honestly there’s so much to do around here that doesn’t cost anything.

We’re distributed throughout Colorado, and in some of the bigger liquor stores in the Denver metro area.

Interviewed by Meredith Powlison

A Local Bar
Pug Ryan’s is a local favorite, so it’s only fitting that it also has a locally made bar. In fact, the bar is made of wood from a giant Douglas fir tree from nearby Ute Pass. The continuous slab was created by Crosscut Reclaimed, and according to co-owner Jack Norton, “I chose this piece because of the nice, straight grain and wonderful color variations.”  

While building the bar in late 2016, Jack found a bullet in the wood that was estimated to have been shot 80 to 100 years ago. You can still see it in the corner of the bar.

Crosscut Reclaimed also completed all design and install work for Pug Ryan’s 2016 remodel, as well as custom crafting of all the tables in the restaurant. Large community tables in the bar have a family-style feel and encourage visitors to sit together. Look for old roof metal that’s in its second life on the walls of the dining room, beneath the bar top, and around by the brew tanks.

Crosscut Reclaimed is locally owned by Jack and his wife Megan, and based in nearby Kremmling. Their passion is reclaiming, repurposing, and renewing old materials. crosscutreclaimed.com

interior shot of Pug Ryans bar