If you're fortunate enough to walk into Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub when owner Jim Parker is tending bar—as he often does—do yourself a favor, and let him choose your beer.
The man has a beer-soaked resume a mile long: He published a beer magazine in Colorado, ran a brewery-tour operation, was head brewer for two breweries, worked at the Institute for Brewing Studies, became the director of the American Homebrewers Association, and finally landed in Oregon, where he headed up the Oregon Brewers Guild for six years.
"What I wasn't doing was standing behind a bar, pouring someone a beer," Parker says. That changed when he opened Oaks Bottom Public House in early 2006 (which he's since sold), and the Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub in October, just off of SE Belmont.
On the brewpub side of the massive space—formerly home to Yamhill Brewing—the beer selection is impressive, but impossible to list: Open less than two months, Green Dragon has already rotated more than 120 beers through its 18 taps, a selection that changes so frequently, the beer menu can only be found on an easy-to-amend chalkboard. The brew I sipped while chatting with Parker recently—Elysian's Immortal IPA—would run out by the evening, he told me, and be replaced. He dedicates some of the taps to specific styles of beer, always pouring three kinds of Belgian beers, for example.
What makes the cut? Parker skips the "flagship" beers offered by smaller breweries—you'll never find BridgePort's IPA at Green Dragon, but he would pour BridgePort's lesser-known Extra Special Bitter. Otherwise, the beer just "has to be good" by his standards, which means Parker has to "appreciate and respect it," he says. "If I can look you in the face, and say, 'I can recommend this,' then I'll put that beer on."
By next spring, Parker hopes Green Dragon will also have five of their own house-brewed beers on tap. One of his business partners, Lorren Lancaster—who's brewed at Deschutes and Anderson Valley—is currently rounding up brewing equipment. There are also plans to roast coffee, make their own sodas, and distill spirits.
The bistro side is just as ambitious, but less impressive. Upscale pub offerings like guajillo chilaquiles sounded like a fancy riff on nachos, until they arrived: The bowlful of semi-soggy chips capped with seasoned zucchini and sour cream was bizarre and bland, while the spicy au jus that accompanied a decent but unadorned Cajun meatloaf sandwich more closely resembled bean dip. A grilled veggie panini from the lunch menu, however, was perfect pub grub—crisp on the outside, with tangy vegetables crammed inside. And the frites that accompany many of Green Dragon's meals are excellent. (Meanwhile, $14 and $15 entrées like roasted beet gnocchi or steamed mussels just seem out of place in the casual, beer-focused joint; Green Dragon would do better to focus on well-made pub standards like hot sandwiches, the current highlight of the menu.)
Your best bet is to come for the beer, and perhaps snag something off the happy hour menu—like the $6 "sausage du jour," $5 fried stuffed olives, or a $3 side of frites with curry aioli. And dare Parker to find the perfect pint to pair with your meal.