Industry News

Green Dragon to Become Rogue East Side Pub & Pilot Brewery

By  | 

greendragon

The Green Dragon pub, owne by the Rogue Ales empire since late 2008, is undergoing a transition to become the 10th Rogue outpost, remodeled and renamed the Rogue East Side Pub & Pilot Brewery. The Green Dragon will go down in history as a milestone Portland beer bar, quickly establishing its importance as a leader when it opened in September 2007 as an independently-owned taproom with aspirations to have a brewery, distillery and coffee roastery on site. Those dreams were dashed fairly quickly as lack of finances and internalownership struggles forced changes and new blood to come in. Eventually the pub was sold to Rogue, which promised to keep it largely the same after much controversy. Like the original transition, this new move to fully assimilate the Green Dragon into a Rogue pub is being met with its own controversy.

 

Rogue_Square

Under the watchful eye of Jim Parker, the original Green Dragon held the first regular “Meet-the-Brewer” events every Tuesday. It’s hard to imagine Beervana without this now commonplace type of event. The pub also helped to introduce Portland to mug clubs, absinthe, secret taps, and really cool beer parties in the back warehouse, cavernous beer hall, and open patio.

When Rogue took over, the new management killed original leadership but kept the rotating taps and even added more. The back corner stage that would host weekly bands and events was removed, and in its place went a new back bar with 30 taps. Some would argue this move was an improvement. The pub also teamed with the Oregon Brew Crew to put in a small nano brewery that is still operated by the elite Green Dragon Brew Crew to produce weekly beer releases. Rogue also made the real 10bbl brewery a reality, but for some reason gave it its own name as the Buckman Botanical Brewery that releases only strange botanical and often un-hopped beers. The distillery lasted for a while, but eventually folded. Much of the staff left after drug testing, and the original independent spirit replaced by Rogue’s unique company culture. So, there has been good and bad. The strongest argument for Rogue taking over was that the Green Dragon itself survived, because it would have folded without stable financing.

Green Dragon's patio © The New School

Green Dragon’s patio © The New School

Some eight years later, Rogue is doing what it said it wouldn’t by turning the Green Dragon into just another cookie cutter Rogue pub with subpar expensive food and beers. True, Rogue does make some good stuff, including classics like Shakespeare Stout, Brutal Bitter, Hazelnut Brown, and the great Old Crustacean Barleywine. However, the line has been watered down by boring and repetitive copycat beers often being renamed and rebranded to confusion. Not to mention the marketing-driven theme beers like the Rogue Voodoo Doughnut line or John’s Beard beers.

No offense to the Buckman Botanical Brewery, but the in-house Green Dragon brewery has mostly produced novelty beers not worth more than a taster. The highlight of Green Dragon has remained the extensive rotating taplist, and occasional cool events like the recent Russian River Night or Black Friday CDA Fest. With the new remodel/rebrand, Rogue will be REMOVING the back bar and wall of taps. Why? The only reason I can think of is to add more seating and refocus emphasis on Rogue’s own beers. The recently released FAQ says the pub will keep 19 rotating taps dedicated to independent breweries, but will have 35 taps dedicated to Rogue beers and sodas.

Rogue Botanical Brewery RIP. From the sounds of it, the Botanical Brewery will be no more, but will be refocused as a Rogue Pilot Brewery, likely not constrained to botanical beers. That’s arguably a good thing, unless this means that we are just going to get five more Voodoo Doughnut flavors and a beer brewed with yeast cultivated from a brewers pubic hair. Head Brewer Danny Connors will stay on, but the brewery is said to be experimenting with “new styles and flavors” under the watchful eye of Rogue Brewmaster John Maier.

The good news, depending on how you look at it, is that the patio will be expanded with the removal of the Quonset Hut. The Green Dragon Brew Crew will continue and release new beers every Wednesday. The staff will remain the same. I am guessing the branding will change, and the menu will be adding crappy food from Rogue’s regular pub menus. Rogue hopes to have these changes finished by December 11th; construction is already underway and they plan for some sort of new grand re-opening.

 

The Green Dragon

928 SE 9th Ave
Portland, Oregon

 

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *