Friday, November 14, 2008

Beeronomics: Whither Green Dragon?

There has been a TON of traffic in the beer-o-sphere about the Rogue takeover of The Green Dragon.  Angelo did break the story correctly - kudos Angelo - with some minor arguments in points-of-fact between he and the Rogue folks.  But lament what is to become of the GD if you will, but the economic reality is that the GD is not financially viable as it currently stands.   With the worsening economy, this situation will only get worse.  The Green Dragon, without an outside investor, is going to die.

So an open question: why are we not hailing Rogue as a savior of a beloved pub rather than a destroyer?  Rogue has the resources and brand to turn this into a viable enterprise.  I lament any loss of independent pubs, but we must be honest with ourselves and admit that there are substantial economies when a brewery runs such a place versus an independent businessperson.  The economic realities for pubs right now are not good - and I, for one, have been expecting closures for some time now (and I don't think this will be the last).

Perhaps it is true that many of us feel that Rogue needs to get a little bit better at running its pubs, but as an economist I have to concede that the market has spoken and it loves what Rogue does.   

Rogue is also one of the least corporate of the breweries (you ever notice how much advertising Rogue does relative to the rest? - basically none) and I suspect that the reason they may not have as many independent taps at the GD after the takeover as it does now has more to do with the incredible array of beers they themselves offer than any anti-competitive motive.  

So lament the passing of the independent Green Dragon, but don't turn Rogue into a villain. Rogue is perhaps THE most Oregonian of breweries: willfully independent in spirit and business, unafraid of risk and creative to a fault.  Only a CEO out of his or her mind would approve the number and variety of brews Rogue produces.  I love some of them, detest a few and find others mediocre, but I love the brewery and what it represents.  

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