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Friday, August 07, 2009

Speaking of Love...

Nine months ago, Rogue bought the Green Dragon, a nice, new little pub with 20 nice taps. The resulting furor was intense, and Rogue came in for a lot of pretty harsh criticism:
"[T]his 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."

"T]here’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."


"This will mean no more eclectic tap offerings outside of Rogue’s own brands and perhaps a limited guest taps at the location. What started out as one of the best beer bars in Portland will simply become another Rogue location."
It wasn't unreasonable speculation--why would Rogue buy a financially-troubled pub and not turn it into a vehicle to sell its own beer? Why wouldn't the brewery re-brand it? Those of us who love tap diversity and will patronize a place with obscure foreign beers are still, even in Beervana, a distinct minority, so from a business perspective, one couldn't reasonably expect Rogue to continue to cater to us. And yet it appears that's exactly what they've done.

In addition to preserving the broad tap selection, Rogue has effectively buried its ownership. You can see evidence of Rogue Nation if you speak the language: the table sets include six-pack containers with beer-bottle salt and pepper shakers. The menu is familiar. But they've done a lot to scrub their involvement--the sixer containers are from regional breweries. The taps are every bit as diverse as they ever were--and I've been there when not a single one was a Rogue beer. (Which, as a fan of Rogue, was actually disappointing. I might have gone for a Brutal Bitter had it been available.)

All of which leads me to the latest news: later this month, Rogue will be hosting a small-brewery beer fest.
"On August 29th from 11:00am to 9:00pm, the city of Portland will close down SE 9th Street between SE Belmont and SE Yamhill for the 1st Annual Oregon Indie Beer Fest. The event will feature 30+ small, independent Oregon-based brewers that brew no-more-than 1000 barrels per year, providing festival goers with exciting, hard-to-find beers. To prepare us for this unique gathering, Green Dragon will be tapping some of these independent brews each day of the week (August 24-28) leading up to the festival."
Even by the high standards Rogue has maintained with the Green Dragon, this is exceptional. Not to put too fine a point on it, but they're hosting a brewers festival to highlight their competition. The press release doesn't say anything about Rogue's participation, but they certainly won't qualify in terms of barrelage restrictions. It would be all the more remarkable if Rogue hosts a beer festival for the competition in which they themselves can't participate.

This looks to be a very cool fest, and I'm looking forward to it. Nice work, Rogue!


  1. Wow Jeff.... When did you start on Rogue's payroll? ;-}

    Yep. You are right! A consistently mediocre tap list with crappy food. Hmmmmm....doesn't that sound like Rogue? :-O

    ....and a NEW festival!!! Oh boy! How excited we should be?! What does this new beer fest bring to the table that's original and exciting? INDIE OREGON BEERS!!! Please!! Ever here the old expression, "Beating a Dead Horse?" Not a big stretch and far from exciting!

    Maybe INDIE beers from across America or Indie Beers across Europe or Indie Beers across Belgium or even Indie Beers across Canada, but Indie beers across OREGON? BORING!

    Oh boy...will there beer from the new "Southern Oregon Brewery?" I hear they make a GOLD, PALE and PORTER! How innovative! Bet no one is making beers like that! They may want to call up the recently defunct Karlsson Brewing (in Sandy) AND ASK HOW TO PROCEED WITH CHAPTER 11..... ;-}

    Wait! "30" Indie beers...Oh! Now that makes a big difference! That's like, uh, going to your average local tap house, but it's outside on the street! Yep! Big stretch there.... Will there be PBR too....WE WOULDN'T WANT TO DISSAPPOINT THE MASSES! :-O

  2. …is there a broken record in here?

  3. Exactly. Speaking of beating a dead horse . . .

  4. ...and the Doctor will continue to BEAT the DEAD HORSE till things change... ;-}

    That said, if you're easily amused with the "Same ol' Beers," feel free to enjoy the "Rogue Indie Fest!"

    Remember, "Opinions are like A**holes, everybody's got one." :-O

    @Anon. Maybe you'd like to share YOUR opinion? I'm sure you too can voice your opinion; Good, Bad or Indifferent.

  5. Dr Wort does have a legit point, but I don't think it'll make a difference. I enjoy going to beer events. Even if I am just enjoying the same ole beers it's still a chance to get out there and meet people with similar interests. Granted the people with similar interests tend to be brewers, not your average festival going beer enthusiast.

    While I'd appreciate it if more festivals offered one off unique beers I'm still willing to shell out a few bucks to attend your average run of the mill style fest.

    It's not always about the beer doc.

    There now I've shared my asshole.... I mean shared my opinion with you guys.

  6. I can see why a brewery would design a festival for small, local breweries. It helps foster a feeling of community and it brings attention to some of these smaller brewers who might use this as an opportunity to get some publicity. Maybe Rogue is hosting a small festival for brewers to socialize with each other? That sounds like a good opportunity for Rogue if their beers aren't featured.

    Why would Rogue want to help small brewers in Belgium or Canada? How would Rogue benefit from that? One of the things that always impressed me about beer in Oregon is the strong sense of community between the brewers. I guess drinking indie beers from another country is more important for Dr. Wort. (oh, wait I guess I should put a happy face emoticon to show I'm not being mean) ;-}

  7. Doc, you have no idea what beers will be there, so this reheated outrage is more pointless than usual. (Outrage, absent a coherent object, isn't transgressive; it's stupid.) Here's a suggestion: come up with some new schtick. Your version of performance art is getting tired.

  8. I've noticed that the secret Cantillon taps no longer exist at the Green Dragon. At least not since the winter/spring time.

  9. To be fair you did kinda ask for the "reheated outrage" with the "reheated controversy" that the article started with. As soon as I read the first line I could already hear the Doc's rant coming on.

    With that said, I haven't been to the Green Dragon in a long while due to the prices, but normally I'd go to this fest... but I have other plans that day.

  10. "Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly."

    - Mary Howitt

    @ Anon. Can you at least pick a moniker, so we can identify you?

    I think your sentence says it all..."How would Rogue benefit from that?"

    Beer has a national and international community. Why narrow our visions and sense of community to one single state? There are breweries in Washington collaborating with breweries in New York and Europe! Other breweries all over the country are collaborating with out of state and International breweries. The WORLD BEER COMMUNITY.

    Is Rogue just trying to save face here? Looking to do some positive PR in the Oregon community? I'm sure you are right! I'm sure there is some self promotion going on, why not? It is a business. I can't condemn them for that. They could sponsor the same type of fest through their San Francisco Pub. That would benefit the CA brewing community and Rogue too... Wouldn't have a hell of lot to do with the Oregon beer community though.

    But... Why have a fest of beers that can be acquired at the pub, tavern or supermarket down the street? Where's the appeal?

    BTW, you could have added that this Beer Fest in donating money to the Portland-based "Pixie Project", a non-profit organization dedicated to providing animal adoption. That might at least pull at some heart strings. Unless you are allergic to dogs like DW3.

    Yes, anon, I enjoy an International selection of beers and beer styles. Why would any beer lover be so parochial and not expand their beer horizons? We have a world of beer varieties, it doesn't stop at the state border.

    No emoticon for you!

    @ Jared. Now that's an honest opinion!

    @ DA. Thanks, you're right. Throw us a bone and we'll run for it.

    @ Jeff. Tired of being upstaged by the Dr Wort rant? DA saw it coming in the first sentence... Why didn't you? ;-} (I'll give Jeff the wink and smile)

    Here's OUR suggestion for you, Jeff. Maybe you're cheer leading is getting equally tiresome and old, try a new shtick, your pom poms are getting frayed.

  11. To be fair you did kinda ask for the "reheated outrage" with the "reheated controversy" that the article started with.

    Really? Following up on a story is reheated outrage? (FWIW, I didn't quote Doc.) The whole post depends on the historical context: my point was that, despite early misgivings, Rogue has managed Green Dragon admirably. How this can be seen as justification for Doc to go on YET ANOTHER rant about how shitty Oregon beer is--I don't see how the post solicited that.

  12. Aha! I never said Oregon beer was shitty. You just said that Jeff!

    I just said, there is beer beyond Oregon and shouldn't we live to expand our beer horizons beyond the borders. I clearly make that statement.

    My rant is usually on diversity of beer styles brewed in Oregon. We're tired of just seeing the same styles being reproduced over and over and over again. How many IPA's and Blonde/Golden ales can you have before you say, "Meh! Another IPA?"

  13. Jeff,

    My point was in no way justification of the response, just that the reaction should have been expected.

    Try mentioning "OBF", "Oregon Beer", or "Rogue" without getting the Dr.'s input. It's just not going to happen.

  14. I think Rogue has done a commendable job keeping GD similar to its original incarnation (for better or worse). I agree that sometimes they could have a more inspired tap list given the number of rotating handles, though I'd still rate them in the top 10 if not top 5 beer destination in town. And even on days when the beer selection is meh, I still love the place.

    As for the festival, I think it's great they are supporting small OR breweries. Sure there are small WA (and broader) breweries worthy of support. However, we shouldn't begrudge Rogue for staying close to home. They don't have to support the competition at all. Good for them (and us) for doing so.

    Sometimes the festival is all about the beer (e.g., Bailey's 2nd anniversary). Other times, it's simply about getting out of the house and drinking a few with a bunch of friends. Only in OR are we so spoiled that we turn our noses up to *gasp* another IPA.

  15. Rogue hasn't lost any face for me... and most.. so I wouldn't call this an act of 'saving face'. It's called diversity, branching out, and putting eggs in more than one basket... which is simply called good business. Keeping the small business feel and just plain small business really... while maintaining a great larger corporation. Nothing wrong with that at all. It's smart, and is providing job opportunities and much more for many people.. lets look beyond beer snobbery for a minute.

    I am a native Portlander now living in Gresham... I work 40+ hours a week and don't ever at all have time to just poke around all the trendy beer joints that all for some dumb reason are located in SE Portland... a part of town I would rather avoid. I haven't even been able to try some of the best beers at my favorite brewery and pub Laurelwood.. which is 5 blocks from my childhood home. So enjoying 30 locals in a fest would be fantastic for me and most people... not very many can be seen just busing around, and wandering the streets of SE Portland on a daily basis.

  16. @Dr Wort Anonymous here is more than one person. Why do you need them identified? Would that change your argument in any way? You assume that the beers will be something that we could get down in any old pub or supermarket. Once again, without seeing the beerlist this is an assumption. I'm hoping we may see some up and coming brewers who are very hard to find.

    @everyone else
    I've been in Oregon only 3 years, and over that time I've seen a lot of variety coming out of the beers and breweries. Yes, every place has an IPA and a blonde but there's all these other styles popping up and growing in popularity in Oregon. Oregon brewers are experimenting with all sorts of world styles beer. I'd rather give my money to my friends and neighbors doing new and interesting beer styles. If I wanted to give a belgian beer my money, I'd buy a Bud light (okay, that was a cheap shot and inaccurate but I never tire of making fun of budwesier).

    Maybe I'm overlooking an important point here. This is another chance to sit around and drink beer all day with our friends. To me, that's more important than what state/country brews the beer. Maybe I haven't been in town long enough.

  17. I really love diverse tap lists, but I have to say since going to the green dragon from the time it opened til the last few months I've been completely underwhelmed. Their tap lists tend to be limited to highly hopped ales, or very dark stouts and porters. They seem to miss the entire range of beers that are medium bodied, nicely balanced and elegant. I've also seen a real lack of interesting foreign beers such as really good Belgians. Not to mention unbelievably bad service 3 times running on the food side. I so miss the Rose & Raindrop...Bailey's tap room has so much more on offer in terms of a wide range of taps. Cheers!

  18. As an amateur brewer and one that is no fan of Rogue's allegiance to a certain basketball team, I am very much looking forward to this.

  19. Hey Jeff!

    Whether your average reader thinks Dr Wort is an A-hole or not, this is the most comments you've gotten in a awhile... ;-}

    Enjoying all the comments! Even the ones from A-hole-nonymus who loves to ride the Doctors ass.... not the Anon who who thinks Green Dragon blows.

  20. Is it just me or does the doctor have a fixation on assholes? Not that there's anything wrong with that, but just askin :)

  21. And I didn't even add my $.02 to the conversation. Wait...I don't care about the Green Dragon...moving on.

  22. As a side question, does anyone know how much it costs to import a keg from Europe vs. buying a keg locally?

    Several people have commented that they want to see more international beers locally. I wonder if it's economically feasible to pull in imported kegs on a regular basis.

    People have also complained that Green Dragon is too expensive. Would they be willing to pay higher prices per pint for the international fancy beers? Even if those prices are higher than fan favorites? Or would the same price issue continue to rise up?

  23. The problem with guys like the "Doc" is two fold. First, the local beer blog world is pretty competitvie, and ranting controversy is an easy way to say "look at me." Jeff's right. It is schtick disguised as "I'm just trying to push for better beer." If the Doc really cared about improving the beer scene, perhaps he would be an example. He criticizes other reviews but offers none that fit what he thinks is a "proper" review. He decries the lack of food and beer writing but offers rehashed, stolen from another blog, posts on menus. In short, the Doc is a half baked, attention craving moron, and because of his inanity, he gets it. So the Doc should be happy because the squeaky wheel got the grease.

    The second problem with his ideas is a basic one: beer is a business. I'm sorry to remind people of this. Beer geeks would like every brewery to revive styles and produce obscure styles. "Wouldn't it be great to go into a pub and see that half the taps were obscure Belgian beers?" or "If I owned a brewery I'd only brew obscure styles like (fill in the blank)." Things like this don't reflect the economic reality. To quote Carol Stoudt, it's easier to make beer than to sell beer.

    Couple this with the reality that most consumers in a pub aren't as passionate about beer as the tiny minority of beer geeks. They're there for the company and not the beer selection. A brewer needs to brew beer that sells. Period. The majority of sales of beer are to people who like it but who's lives don't revolve around it. So most beer has to be for the consumer market. Even in Beervana, you're not going to get the average consumer to care about beer as much as the beer geek community would like. They'll drink craft beer because it's local, but most won't go out of their way to try an obscure style.

    There's nothing wrong with that. It's just that they're not passionate about it. It'd be like a literature geek decrying the fact that crap like John Grisham sells while Marcel Proust doesn't. Proust is amazing if you want to commit to it, but most readers don't. Same with beer. Get over it, Doc. Your tirades are only read by beer geeks. You're preaching to the choir, although the choir seems to have a more realistic idea about how the craft beer "scene" in Beervana works. You can't make the average consumer a beer geek anymore than you can take a moron who's reading John Grisham and make them passionate about Proust. Ain't gonna happen.

    Brewer's brew beer that will sell. They sneak in what they can for fun, but there aren't enough beer geeks to support a 100% "I just brew for passion" beer scene. Widmer has been the target of derision from the Doc, but all that Hefeweizen allows them to brew small batches of Alt, Dortmunder lager, Vienna lager, the whole Collaborator line up, etc. But without a cahs cow like Hefe, it wouldn't happen. At the end of the day, beer needs to be accessible enough to sell. Sorry beer geeks, but that's the oft forgotten reality.

    And just to stay on topic, kudos to Rogue for their mini-fest.

  24. @Moniker man

    You might be the most insightful person that has ever commented on this blog! You almost nailed Dr Worts character profile and motive to perfection! Almost. ;-}

    Dr Wort preaches about others being narrow minded in regard to beer, community, brewing, etc. He expects MORE from the brewing biz. He wants everything to be interesting and unique. He himself is a study of being narrow minded! A narrow minded beer snob, who wants the beer world to as elevated as he. He knows beer is a business, as he stated in one of his recent comments, but doesn't care! He wants the beer world to strive for constant greatness. Mediocrity is weakness to him. Deep pockets show greed, and his tirades could go on and on.

    Does the Wort Crew find humor in it all? Absolutely! Why?? For the most obvious reason... Most people are shallow, insensitive and defensive! They are easily offended and hate to be criticized. Dr Wort is an insane critic! He can never be satisfied.

    The best part...which we've stated more than a handful of time. Dr Wort is a fictional character. His personality has been molded and honed on a piece of paper! He has been created like a cartoon character! Wiley Coyote? What should his demeanor be? How conservative should he be? Where are his limits? Is he understanding, forgiving, aggressive, etc? What's his goal and where does he stand? I'm sure you get the picture.

    The question is why? Why create Dr Wort? We'll leave that for you to decide....

  25. Doc Wort said: "Mediocrity is weakness to him."

    Then your blog must leave you weak and pained.

    'Nuff said.

  26. @ MM

    We take back our "insightful" comment

  27. The Fonz feels your pain8:14 AM, August 10, 2009

    Refer to Beervana post “Speaking of Love…” dated Friday, August 7, 2009 as the day and episode when DR. WORT JUMPED THE SHARK.

  28. DOSIR said:

    "I work 40+ hours a week and don't ever at all have time to just poke around all the trendy beer joints that all for some dumb reason are located in SE Portland."

    That "dumb reason" is because there's a higher percentage of people who like good beer in SE than in any other part of the city. Shit, there's probably more beer lovers in the Horse Brass on a daily basis than there is in all of Gresham.

    Portland is full of brilliant brewing and business talent; if there was a market to something other than the 4th St brewpub in Gresham I'm sure someone would have jumped on it by now.

    The simple fact of the matter is that the drinking habits of Gresham more closely mirror those of the rural South than those of Portland.

    BM and C still rule out there, and until the residents of Gresham start demanding a better selection from their local bars there's no motivation for anyone to pour better beer.