Pug Ryan’s Steakhouse and Brewery in Dillon has used the same brand, logo and font since 1975. This June, much of that is about to change. Starting with can design and moving all the way up to name and outdoor sign, there’s going to be a whole lot more outlaw and Old West in Dillon.
“As a brewery, I don’t want to say we’re outlaws, but we kind of enjoy that out-of-the-norm lifestyle, partly from living here in Summit County,” said Travis Holton, who co-owns Pug Ryan’s with his wife, Annie.
Time for a change
Starting last fall, Holton decided that it was time for a change and decided that he wanted to emphasize the legend and Old West feel behind the brand. He started with the motto, “Brewed for the Outlaw in You,” and the design of the cans.
“So Pug Ryan’s is kind of morphing; he doesn’t have a face anymore, but he is an image — he’s a guy, he’s an outlaw, he’s sneaking away on his horse, heading to his hideout,” Holton said, pointing to the outline of the outlaw Pug Ryan at the top of the can, shown with a bowler hat on and a gun slung over his shoulder, leading his horse away.
The letters on the can harken back to a font that one might expect on the doors of an Old West saloon, or a “wanted” poster. The beer names also have a western theme — Dead Eye Dunkel, Hideout Helles and Peacemaker Pilsner (previously known as the Pali Pilsner).
“We wanted a label that could kind of resemble the outlaw, resemble the West, get people to remember and recognize it. It’ll definitely stand out; it will be different on the shelf,” Holton said.
Holton said he is pulling the Morningwood Wheat from canned production and focusing on the other three at first. In the future, he may add a fourth can, which will display its own outlaw name and style.
On the back of each can is a small segment called the Chuck Wagon, referring to the wagon that carried the food for cowboys and pioneers back in the day. Each Chuck Wagon offers a recommended food pairing to go with that particular style of beer. Beside the Chuck Wagon is the outline of an outlaw on a horse, which differs among beer styles. On one, the horse is rearing; on another, it’s full-out galloping. These are just some of the smaller touches that Holton and his design team worked on to make the cans more interesting and unique.
Holton said that lagers are an important focus of Pug Ryan’s that will continue into the future.
“We’re about what we like to drink, and we think you should like to drink that, too, because they’re such excellent beers and they’re not readily available in the marketplace,” he said.
The other big change around Pug Ryan’s will be the name. Instead of Pug Ryan’s Steakhouse and Brewery, it will soon become Pug Ryan’s Brewing Co. As the success of his brewery grows, Holton said he would remain true to Summit County, both in terms of location and general atmosphere.
“We don’t want to move somewhere else, make a bigger brewery,” he said. “We’re going to brew as good a beer as we can, and we’re going to live here where we’ve chosen to live, and we’re going to work, play, live, be outlaws for all of the above, right here in our county.”
Holton wanted his new brand to reflect the history and the feel of Summit County, particularly Dillon, where Pug Ryan’s is located.
“Dillon meant West to me,” he said, from the time he was a kid and watched Matt Dillon on the TV show “Gunsmoke.” “I’m from Georgia, so I looked at the word Dillon and I wound up ultimately moving and spending my entire adult life working in Dillon. I consider this part of ‘out West’ and the cowboy image, the pioneer image.”
Holton hopes to have the new cans out and available in time for the Lake Dillon Brew Festival on June 22.
“So that’s what we’re up to,” he said, smiling.