Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Buckman Village Brewery

The Green Dragon saga continues... After three years and two ownership changes, the pub is finally serving its own house-brewed beers, under the somewhat silly name of Buckman Village Brewery.  Last week they debuted three beers: an IPA (natch) and two lighter ales, one flavored with ginger and one with chamomile.

Carla and I made it over there last Thursday to try the beers (the on-street bike corral is a nice addition -- when did that happen?).  The chamomile beer, Chamomellow -- as far as I can tell the only Buckman beer that has its own name -- was fabulous. As Frank James noted on Brewpublic, it has a touch of honey-like sweetness, and a lovely floral flavor that is right up front but doesn't overwhelm. After being underwhelmed by the IPA and displeased by the ginger beer, Carla and I were bowled over by Chamomellow, all the more so because Carla usually doesn't care for chamomile tea. That's it in the picture above, charmingly served to us in a MacTarnahan's glass.

As I said, the IPA was not impressive. It didn't offend, but it's not one of those cases where you say "This beer has balance", because it's not very hard to balance small quantities of flavor. The Buckman Ginger was interesting, but I'm one of the few people I can think of who would persevere to the end of a pint of it. The fresh ginger flavor was nice enough, but there was also a strange, chalky bitterness -- powdered ginger or turmeric? -- in the finish that wasn't very appealing. I'm kind of surprised that Frank referred to it as "surprisingly and enjoyably subtle". I found it to be anything but subtle, and a couple of tweets I read about it also commented on its brashness.

The beers were brewed on the Green Dragon's newly-approved 15-barrel system, not the 1-barrel nano rig that the Oregon Brew Crew was providing cheap labor on. From what I can gather, the brewer was John Couchot, who has been Rogue's chief distiller -- he's the second John on the John-John ales.  Does anyone know if he is going to be the permanent Green Dragon brewer?  That would certainly stoke the paranoia of the Integrity Spirits guys who share the building.

Hopefully Rogue will drop this "Buckman Village" pretense and just call the brewery the Green Dragon.  I do want to point out a previous instance of a Buckman beverage, though.  In 2007, our vineyard-owning friends bottled Buckman wine as a benefit for Buckman Elementary school -- that's the TTB-approved label for the red in the picture.  The label for the white wine was even cooler, with two skulls entwined with a Buckman banner, but I couldn't find a bottle or label in my archives. Anyway, the word "village" sounds phony applied to an edgy tavern in the middle of a warehouse district less than a mile from downtown.  On the other hand, "Green Dragon" does fit the place just right.  Is there a lawyer behind this, or is it just some inscrutable Rogue marketing ploy?

11 comments:

  1. Wow! Portland brewer strikes a sour note with locals! News at eleven....

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  2. Green Dragon an "edgy" tavern? Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

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  3. Cut me some slack, guys! No one wants to read a "Dog Bites Man" story. I've got to embellish a little or no one will read this rag.

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  4. Bill.... Truth is usually more interesting than fiction. If the "Dog bites the Man" people want the gory details. People don't want the sanitized bleeding heart version, 'Big beautiful Chocolate Lab name Sparkles nips man legs. Now man asks for dog to be put down.' Everybody knows there's more to the story.... ;-}

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  5. The blog is fine; it's the comments that have shit the bed.

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  6. That was an eloquent addition.... ;-}

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  7. i'm definitely curious as to whether there are other options, other examples of ginger beers that depart from that trade winds-like approach? if there are, i'd definitely be glad to give them a try, in order to further broaden my horizons. i'm always open to trying new, interesting and well-designed beers, even if they aren't typically what i'd drink.

    frank d. james

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  8. for some reason, my full comment did not post. don't know what happened, but i'd copied and saved the comment - for fear of exactly that type of thing happening - and so here's the complete, original comment.

    bill,
    it was a pleasure meeting you yesterday. i just wanted to drop a note regarding my views on the
    Buckman Ginger, that you'd referenced in this post.
    i'm just curious as to which ginger beers you might actually like? (assuming there are any that would fall into that category.) which ones aren't brash, in your view?
    i normally don't drink ginger beers, but occasionally i will try one just to see if my view of them - a negative one - is still warranted.
    the last one i recall, and have a strong memory of, is the trade winds ginger beer which was on tap at belmont station a few months back.
    that beer was, and the ginger taste was, so overwhelming that i don't think i even finished the small glass i'd ordered.
    that was the reference point for my comments about the buckman ginger.
    i'm definitely curious as to whether there are other options, other examples of ginger beers that depart from that trade winds-like approach? if there are, i'd definitely be glad to give them a try, in order to further broaden my horizons. i'm always open to trying new, interesting and well-designed beers, even if they aren't typically what i'd drink.

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  9. Frank: It was nice to meet you Saturday.

    Good question about other ginger beers. I remember liking Caldera's Ginger-Hibiscus beer at the OBF, but I don't remember the relative gingery-ness of it.

    Last week the Quimby Lucky Lab had a brown ale flavored with ginger on. That one didn't have enough ginger in my opinion -- I wouldn't have known it was there, but it wasn't a bad beer.

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  10. Frank, I'm not sure it is one of the beers they regularly send out this way, but Left Hand out of Colorado makes a nice beer called Juju Ginger. It has definitely come a long ways since their first batch in '93. They had to tear apart their heat exchanger after it got clogged with ginger shreds on that one and the beer was pure ginger flavor. The last time I had it, though, it was quite tasty, with enough of a malt backbone to balance the ginger.

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  11. Jim,
    Thanks for the suggestion.
    I'll look for that beer. I think that a sufficient malt flavor may be the key to a good ginger beer. Seems to me that ginger beers, by their very nature, are going to have an odd, overpowering flavor, because...well, because it's ginger.
    More malt, or certain kinds of malt, may take the sharp edge, that gingery zest, down a notch.
    Thanks for the hint, and I'll put that on my list of beers to look out for.

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