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Friday, November 14, 2008

Green Dragon Reax

[Note: the post has been updated.]

Is there any doubt this is really a beer paradise? A brewery taking over a local bar might not make news in most towns, but in Portland, it's a Very Big Deal. Below are some early reactions. Keep reading, though, because Champagne of Blogs has a call for direct action--I'll note that at the end of the post.
DA Beers
As a mug club member and big fan of the Green Dragon, this is quite depressing. I'm still hoping this doesn't come to fruition, but if this holds up the East side just had a major setback.

I'll be honest, I don't like Rogue very much. Their beer is decent, a few are really good, but overall overpriced. They don't treat their employees very well, and the ones they do have often couldn't care less about knowing their product. Everything is overpriced in their pubs, so I'll stick to the bottles and maybe forking over the big chips to try something special if it is only on tap.

Champagne of Blogs
I don’t have a particular beef against Rogue, I drink their beer, but there’s a reason I haven’t been to the Public House in Portland for years. The food is pretty spendy for the average quality and the beer list certainly lacks diversity.

Doc Wort
Lets' hope for little change in the Green Dragon's beer selections...

This falls on the heels of our past loss of Rose and Raindrop Pub which was another beer bar icon to the city. That was sold to banking company.

It's Pub Night
Personally, I think it could be a positive thing. Ed was new to the pub business, and he wasn't particularly interested in beer. In my opinion, getting beer people in at the top is not a bad thing -- Ed's a nice guy, but just a few months ago everyone was wringing their hands about the loss of control by Jim Parker and Lolo.

Most people know that Ed had chosen another local brewer to take over the slowly-gestating brewing operation -- a friend of mine, as it happens. He hasn't been officially hired yet, so I'll be upset if the sale puts a stop to that. On the other hand, if he gets to become a Rogue brewer, that's a huge feather in his cap, not to mention an excellent catch by Rogue. So I'm looking on the bright side.
Champagne of Blogs isn't taking this lying down:
So, like good beer drinking activists, we’re taking it to the Web. BS Brewing developed a simple petition for Rogue should this sale go through. Here’s the petition:

Rogue’s buying the Green Dragon. Our demands are very simple. We want them to agree to:

  1. Not put their crappy food on the menu.
  2. Maintain the EXCELLENT tap list, and not just fill the keg cooler with sub-par Rogue brews.
  3. Keep the amazingly knowledgeable wait staff.

So, how can YOU join the movement that’s sweeping across Portland? Simple, join us on Facebook or leave a comment here. We’ll be sure to forward everything to Rogue.

I would probably tweak that petition if it were me. I doubt Rogue regards it's menu as "crappy," so this may not be wholly persuasive. Nor do they regard their beers as "sub-par." Political action requires a bit of finesse. Twere I to have composed it, I might have said, "skip the usual pub fare and maintain a menu of eclectic, excellent food," and on point two just go with "maintain the excellent tap list by continuing to have a broad selection of beers from around the region and world." But it's not my petition, so you can sign that one as you like.

To add my own two cents. As with everyone, I love the diversity and eclecticity of the Green Dragon. In a perfect world, I wouldn't change a thing. Good pubs are hard to come by. On the other hand, it's possible people are missing the proper mental frame here. I don't know that the choice is between Rogue Green Dragon and Green Dragon. It may well be between Rogue Green Dragon and nothing. No doubt the owners wouldn't be making the deal if they had the cash to keep it as is. So while I will miss the current incarnation, and while I strongly support the effort to keep it as diverse as possible, I also appreciate the possibility that the pub doesn't go away completely.

[Update. I added Bill's comment from It's Pub Night in the reactions section.]


  1. Jeff,

    I agree with you. I don't dislike Rogue for doing this, it is a two sided venture. More I'm just bummed this is all happening. I've been impressed with the amount of people at the GD lately and I thought they have been doing a great job running the place.

  2. Jeff,

    Thank you! As someone who is closer to the issue than most may know, I was waiting for cooler heads to prevail. I have been in conversations with Ed for the last 3 to 4 weeks and he has agonized with the decision. It was this or shut it down. Ed had a vision for the Green Dragon, which included me as Head Brewer. Unfortunately he could not afford his overall vision and it was sell or shut down. The last thing Ed wanted to do was to put everyone out of work. Rogue stepped in to save the Dragon. Now I pray that we all have the patience and faith in Rogue. I hope that I am still the Head Brewer for the Dragon when all is said and done, but if not, I am happy that the Dragon will still be open in my Buckman neighbourhood. Cheers and thanks again for at least keeping an open mind.

    Corey Blodgett

  3. I'm sure there is a lot to this that we don't know and may never know. But it is important to note that popularity and profitability don't necessarily coincide.

    My very uneducated guess would be that the GD bit off more than it could chew in terms of distilling and brewing investment (fixed costs). The pub operation likely couldn't support the debt payments so it was either bankruptcy or sale.

    Rogue's business matched up nicely with the assets, had the money, saw the success of the pub side and bought.

    The reason why I think there isn't a lot of transparency right now is that whoever (a bank I'm guessing) lent the GD money is going to have to transfer that obligation to Rogue. Another guess would be that the lender would probably want more reassurance from Rogue give the current situation in credit.

    All speculation and probably all wrong. But isn't speculation fun!

  4. Gotta love it when you post and someone else beats you to the punch. Good luck to you in the future Corey!

  5. Yeah, I had the same feeling about the wording of the petition, but I think we all know how these things go. Rogue is going to do whatever it wants and whatever makes the best business sense to them. A hundred or so Facebook peeps aren't going to stop them. I think Dave is doing this more as a social experiment than an act with any hope of actual persuasion.

  6. Corey,

    Any idea what the future of Integrity Spirits is? I'd be sad to see them go as well.

    Thanks for the info. Although, I don't think it was an issue of hot heads. I don't think many people dislike Rogue for "taking over" the Green Dragon, I think those people just dislike Rogue from previous experiences.

  7. I'm with you Jeff. I don't think having the public run amok over this situation is going to solve anything.

    Of course, venting ones feelings does help ya feel better.

    It's all business and the pub beer business isn't a grassroots concept anymore. Unfortunately, it's more about who has the money to achieve the goal.

    What's old saying?

    Money talks; BS walks.

    Even with good intentions, the beer biz has become an uphill climb.

    Lets cross our fingers and hope for the best! That's all we can really do....

  8. It's not all about money, Dr. Wort. But it is all about overhead, and the GD model clearly carries too much of it.

    I'm a semi-regular there, and I've always thought the food has sucked, and while I like the diversity, I've always been conflicted with the beer selection. There seems to be too much of an emphasis on variety over quality. They would be well served by finding the brands that work, sticking with them for a while, and having a few wild-card handles for the goofy shit. No surprise here, this is the strategy that works for all the other leading beer bars.

    I applaud the GD for trying something diff, but being different just for the sake of it never really works.