Ed Canty, assistant brewer at Pug Ryan’s Steakhouse & Brewery in Dillon, started brewing before he could legally partake in his finished product.
“When I was 17 years old in California, a friend of my older brother’s said let’s go rock climbing, and when we came down, he said want to brew some beer?” Canty said. “That was my first homebrew batch.”
Along the way
Having learned how to rock climb, Canty looked at Boulder for college and continued climbing and brewing, training on the seven-barrel system as maintenance manager at Oasis Brewing. He then began a tour of Florida in 1993, starting in the Tampa Bay area.
“I was an installer for Hops Brewery, then brewmaster at Sarasota Brewing Co.,” he said. “I was there for four years and then back up to Tampa for a year and a half.”
Canty continued his Florida run as a sales rep for a beer marketing company and started the Florida Brewers Guild.
“They never really got their ducks in a row,” Canty said of the marketing company. “Some of the bigger players said I should get away from them, so I quit that job, took some time off, then opened up Orlando Brewing in 2006.”
Though Canty is still an owner of Orlando Brewing, he left them in June 2008 and did some brewery consulting around Florida. A few years passed, and both Canty and his wife were itching to move back to Colorado. He flooded the Front Rage with job applications before coming across the opening at Pug Ryan’s in Dillon and started with the brewery on June 11.
“Just living in Dillon is awesome because I have the mountains again and the lake, so I can continue sailing,” Canty said. “The people here are fantastic to work with — upbeat, friendly — we have a really good product here, with food and all the different beers.”
On the line
Canty has been helping head brewer Dave Simmons with the recent expansion work at Pug’s, which has allowed the brewing team to create more beers.
“The beers that Dave likes to makes are the ones I like to drink and brew,” Canty said. “He’s the best boss you can have. It’s the people here at Pug’s that really make it; they’re awesome.”
Pug Ryan’s had never brewed a barleywine, Canty said, so he created a recipe in October and put it on tap in December because he enjoys high alcohol, hoppy beers.
“We are thinking about doing a Belgian trippel,” he said. “We’re also looking at maybe brewing a malt liquor; that’s a style that not many breweries really get into.”
As part of the expansion, the brewery is rebranding all of its cans with new logos and tap handles. When it’s all said and done, Pug Ryan’s will be canning its pilsner, Helles bock, Munich dunkel and vanilla stout.
“Those will be the four cans we’re doing,” Canty said. “We won’t be canning wheat or pale ale anymore. We’re still going to brew them, but they won’t get canned anymore.”
Advice from a mentor
Canty said Jack Joyce, principal of Rogue Brewing, has been one of his main mentors since he started brewing.
“He’s my surrogate father in the brewing industry,” Canty said. “I lost both my parents years ago, and Jack has definitely been a mentor. That’s the person who’s had the most effect on my choices in the brewing industry. As the owner of a well-known brewery and business savvy, he’s really helped me along the way.”
For those who aspire to follow in his footsteps as a brewer, Canty said to get in while you can because the whole industry is starting to become saturated.
“There’s another 300 to 400 breweries opening this year,” he said. “If you’re going to get into it, do it now, do it small and do it local. Going nationwide or statewide is really difficult. And don’t get into it because of the money. You want to brew beer that you like to drink, not what people tell you they want. You educate them all along the way.”