On Saturday night I was invited to a special “friends and family” party down in Sunriver (about 17 miles south of Bend) at the Mountain Jug, a new bottleshop and specialty beer taproom opened by Mark and Tonya Cornett (she of 10 Barrel Brewing fame)—and in addition to being a great party, it was a good introduction to Sunriver’s only specialty beer shop.
The Mountain Jug occupies an unassuming space in a log cabin-style building that used to house a real estate office, not terribly large, and as you can see from the pictures above, it’s “pure Sunriver”—that is to say, lodge-style, rustic, open wood and large logs (Sunriver Resort, about a mile away, is heavily decked out in this style). They’ve played up to that theme with a hardwood floor (formerly it was carpeted) and a nice hardwood bar fronting the 12 beer taps.
Those taps are currently dedicated to local (Central Oregon) beers: the line-up on Saturday night consisted of 10 Barrel Brewing’s Apocalypse IPA and Hop Rye’it, Cascade Lakes 20″ Brown, Worthy Brewing’s Pangloss Porter, Silver Moon Hoptagon, GoodLife Sweet As Pacific Ale, Three Creeks Five Pine Porter, Boneyard Beer’s Suge Knite, Deschutes Brewery’s Red Chair NWPA, Crux Fermentation Project’s Saison, and Bend Brewing’s Scottish Heart and Ching Ching.
They also have at least four coolers stocked with a variety of specialty beers in both cans and bottles, included some things I haven’t (or have only rarely) seen in Central Oregon before, like canned beers from Colorado’s Crazy Mountain Brewing. It goes without saying that they have the best selection of beer in Sunriver, and curating beers like that will easily put them among the “best selection in Central Oregon” category. (There’s definitely a benefit to also being in the industry, in Tonya’s case!)
Let’s the elephant in the room out of the way: yes, Tonya’s will be the name that most people will recognize, but Mountain Jug is Mark Cornett’s baby. Mark has done a terrific job of bringing his vision to life, and besides the great beer has included a couple of retro touches that I absolutely love: a record player with a nice stack of vinyl and a sit-down classic console arcade game cabinet—only a modernized one that’s loaded with 60 classic arcade games!
(Yeah I bombed pretty badly at the ones I tried to play—Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac Man. Clearly it’s been ages since I’ve played them. My wife did far better at Ms. Pac Man than I did.)
These are two features which (along with the decor) remind me strongly of Twist Wine Company in Pacific City (read this to find out why)—so much so that I suggested to Tonya that they need to also install an Atari 2600 and offered to donate one that I have. The only real problem with this arrangement is, Mountain Jug isn’t in Bend and closer to my house(!).
And a note for all those wondering about growlers (because growler fill stations are the hot new thing): Mountain Jug will fill growlers to go but they are not a “growler fill station”—the growler prices are comparable to filling at a brewery, not the lower prices (~$9 range) you’ll find at a fill station. Mark stressed that point: first and foremost, this a specialty beer shop, where you can come in for a pint of some great beer and to pick up some specialty beers to take home with you (or enjoy there). They’re in it for the long haul, and that means community: creating a warm and welcoming spot in Sunriver to get together for a beer with friends and geek out over beer, rather than the “grab a quick growler of beer to go” feel of a fill station.
However, be aware that they do not serve food: this is a taproom and bottleshop only. You can order pizza to be brought in, and they’ve got a deal with a neighboring burger place to allow you to order up something other than pizza to eat, but there’s no kitchen at the Mountain Jug.
Overall I was really impressed, though I am a bit disappointed that it’s in Sunriver and I’m in Bend. But I’d be willing to make the trek to Sunriver far more often now.
Also be sure to check out their Facebook page for even more photos and updates.