Pug Ryan's Brewery, which has been a mainstay in the town of Dillon for decades, was sold by its longtime owners Travis and Annie Holton this week to another couple, John and Judy Jordan. John Jordan had been a brewer at Breckenridge Brewery for seventeen years. Originally a steakhouse, Pug's was purchased by the Holtons in 1986, according to a story in the Summit Daily News, which reported the sale. The couple converted the restaurant to a brewpub in 1997 and Pug Ryan's became one of the first Colorado breweries to can its beers, some of which are distributed in Denver.
"We just flat-out said we need to find the right people to take Pug's down the road another quarter-century, because it's more important than we are," Travis Holton told the paper. "There were some other suitors who would not have understood the culture and would not have been able to hit a home run."
That sentiment speaks to a rash of much larger buyouts that have taken place in the past couple of years, affecting companies like Breckenridge Brewery, Oskar Blues, Elysian Brewing, Firestone Walker, Ballast Point and Lagunitas. Some of the buyers included investment groups, mega-brewers and overseas conglomerates.
But smaller breweries have also changed hands, going from one independent owner to another. And those kinds of transactions could continue, as several other breweries have listed themselves for sale locally.
In December, 1933 Brewing in Fort Collins was sold by owner Cody Pisacka to head brewer Zach Wilson and marketing coordinator Laura Sickles Wilson. They have closed the brewery down for a few months and plan to reopen later this year under a new name and with a new concept.
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Then, in February, local beer-industry regulars Jake Minturn, of Copper Kettle Brewing, and Doug Hyndman, former head brewer at Dry Dock, teamed up to buy Elk Mountain Brewing, which was founded in Parker almost seven years ago by Tom and Marcia Bell. The Bells put the brewery up for sale last fall so they could retire.
Minturn and Hyndman will keep the Elk Mountain name until the federal Tax and Trade Bureau approves their request to change the name to Downhill Brewing and add a ski-and-snowboard theme.
At least two small Denver breweries, choosing to keep themselves anonymous, have listed themselves for sale in the past few months via online classified ads. So have breweries in Boulder, Colorado Springs and in a pair of Denver suburbs. While the listings don't provide many clues as to which breweries they are, it's likely that the Colorado industry will see more changes in the coming months.