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In a historic first for FNBB, I have real news from the campaign! This week we've seen discussion of an issue close to my heart: the White House Homebrew!

FNBB reader ruleoflaw sent me a link to the msnbc blog; fellow homebrewer brendan at BooTrib linked to the Des Moines Register story. Details below.

In perhaps the most startling revelation so far in Obama’s three-day bus tour across Iowa, it was revealed this morning that the White House brews its own beer, and that the presidential bus is stocked with bottles of that beer.

The revelation came incidentally, when a man at the Knoxville coffee shop where Obama stopped today somehow got the president onto the subject of beer, and Obama noted that a sample of the White House’s home brew was just outside.

And the man received the unexpected gift of a bottle of "White House Honey Ale".

When this important issue was raised by the press later, Spokesman Jay Carney couldn't identify the styles beyond "light" and "dark", or say who the brewer was, but showed the right attitude:

“I have exhausted my knowledge of this subject,” Carney said. “When someone hands me a beer I don’t ask how it was made, I just drink it.”
Not content to let it drop there, FNBB knew our readers would want the answers, and did the research! (Some thanks to msnbc, who linked to this excellent story at HuffPo).

The Brewer To The President is Assistant Chef Sam Kass, also identified as Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives; the equipment (not described in detail) was purchased by the Obamas.

First Ladies have traditionally tried to support some worthy and safely apolitical cause; Michelle Obama is closely associated with the Healthy Food Initiatives. Naturally in today's political climate that isn't safe enough, it gets much of its press coverage from right wing idiots who think she's a Food Nazi who wants to take away their Twinkies.

She also directed the planting of a large vegetable garden on the White House grounds, and the gardens include beehives. The White House beers all include the home-produced honey. Their blog identifies the styles as "Honey Blonde" and "Honey Porter" and says they are occasionally served at special events.

I'm sure most U.S. Presidents have drunk beer, but Barack Obama is the first to have it made for him at the White House! (There are beer stories connected with other Presidents, but I'll leave that for a future diary.)

I'm about to go shopping and don't know what I'll buy. What are you drinking?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

    by esquimaux on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 06:45:03 PM PDT

  •  I remember hearing about this a couple years ago. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akeitz, bsegel

    It's not new, just didn't get much attention until now. I doubt if the president has anything to do with it until it's time to open the bottle. I wonder how legal this is, if the person doing the brewing doesn't live at the White House, and whether it was OK to hand out a sample in another state, etc, etc. The same sort of fuzzy questions and vague interpretations and misunderstandings that all homebrewers face, with the complications of differing state laws written by legislators ignorant of the whole process, or opposed on Biblical misconceptions with the end of preventing any further spread of Demon Rum and its ilk, such as some WV legislation considered last winter for sampling  craft beer (6-12%) in liquor stores (2 oz. samples, no more than 3 per session, sessions to be scheduled in advance with the state ABC, rules for disposal of leftovers). This was vigorously opposed by a state senator on the grounds that it could encourage alcoholism. Come on, we're already in a liquor store. But I digress, or dither, or something. I've only had four maple brown ales (courtesy of my brew buddy. Such a relief after four weeks of peach wine.)
    Really, I'd like to be able to walk into a UPS office and send off some contest entries without being suspected of terrorism and having the package searched and rejected. The three-tier distribution system has outlived its usefulness. Now I'm blathering. OK, your turn.

    The man who worries morning and night about the dandelions in the lawn will find great relief in learning to love the dandelions. Liberty Hyde Bailey, 1910

    by Grainpaw on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 07:24:45 PM PDT

    •  This just continues a long tradition (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BusyinCA, bsegel

      of presidential beer. George Washington made notes on his porter recipe and had it brewed at Mount Vernon. Thomas Jefferson had a slave trained to brew by an English brewer at Monticello. Franklin Roosevelt appreciated beer enough to make its legalization the first step out of Prohibition. Jimmy Carter's brother Billy was a contract brewer of sorts (I still have a 6-pack of Billy Beer somewhere). Really, beer is a normal part of life. Why shouldn't presidents drink it?
      And if I were the Most Interesting Man in the World, I would certainly want to drink something more interesting than Dos Equis (though that would be the most interesting beer if you found it in a redneck bar). But anyway, I'm waiting to be acclaimed Emperor. As Kaiser Wilhelm said, "Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world."

      The man who worries morning and night about the dandelions in the lawn will find great relief in learning to love the dandelions. Liberty Hyde Bailey, 1910

      by Grainpaw on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 07:50:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ahem (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        akeitz, BusyinCA, bsegel, Grainpaw

        I happen to brew, and I'm definitely a woman. In fact, I just finished drinking one of my own sweet stouts.

        Get 10% off with KATALOGUE2012 at my shop, or go to the Kos Katalogue!

        by LoreleiHI on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:12:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  hi Lorelei! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bsegel, LoreleiHI

          always nice to have more brewers check in!

          tell us more about the stout please. At the last homebrew club meeting it was a lady member who brought "breakfast stout", sweet with coffee.

          "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

          by esquimaux on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:28:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Check downstream (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Grainpaw

            I posted a bit more fully there. I will say that when you drink it with a good dark chocolate, both are made complete. Just OMG good.

            It was my first brew, and I made it from a kit that the LHBS made (not one of the chains), and a friend of mine who's been brewing for years made his all-grain and supervised my extract. :) My next one will be a partial.

            Hmm. It's about as dark as ale can get, sweet, about 28 IBU (but a nice hint of bitterness at the swallow), malty, a touch over-carbed. Here's a photo of when it was new:

            sweet stout

            Get 10% off with KATALOGUE2012 at my shop, or go to the Kos Katalogue!

            by LoreleiHI on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:53:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  she's hooked! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              LoreleiHI

              when you're happy with the first batch, there's no chance of going back now...  Danger Ms. Lorelei!

              "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

              by esquimaux on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:13:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  And happy with the 2nd batch (0+ / 0-)

                And happily planning later batches. Brewtarget is a fun, fun program. :p

                Yep, the only thing I regret about moving is losing the use of that year-round 55° basement. /sigh I could have lagered down there.

                Get 10% off with KATALOGUE2012 at my shop, or go to the Kos Katalogue!

                by LoreleiHI on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:27:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  where are you? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  LoreleiHI

                  I had guessed "HI" in your name might be Hawaii, but no 55 degree basements there.

                  basements are rare in my part of NorCal, I can't fit a carboy into the crawlspace.

                  one of my first friends to get into homebrewing started with a bucket under the kitchen table with no temperature control. He produced some very questionable liquids. When he moved into one of the rare local places with a basement his beer immediately got much better.

                  "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

                  by esquimaux on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:41:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I was in Hawaii (0+ / 0-)

                    Now I'm in Maine. And now in an apartment, so temp control will be either blankets or buckets, depending. :) But it worked for the stout (we were in a house share, and the owner actually wanted us to keep it in our room!). Our current landlord is aware of my hobby and sees no issues with it. :)

                    Get 10% off with KATALOGUE2012 at my shop, or go to the Kos Katalogue!

                    by LoreleiHI on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:51:27 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  I knew (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BusyinCA, bsegel, Grainpaw

        you'd mention all those stories, so much for my idea of saving them for a future FNBB.

        I'm happy to proclaim you Emperor! Grainpaw I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. That was Norton's title and he did ok.

        (for those of you not from NorCal, "Emperor" Norton was a beloved local eccentric in post-Gold Rush San Francisco.)

        "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

        by esquimaux on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:18:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I second the motion. The motion carries. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bsegel, Grainpaw

        I  await my rule by the beneficent and magnanimous Emperor Grainpaw, and the fruits of our breweries.

        Long live Emperor Grainpaw! [The crowd pauses to take a drink and wipe the foam from their upper lip areas.]

        BTW, if Billy beer had been as good as an average hefeweizen, his brother might have had a second term. At least, some people say. [cough]

        Most interesting man in the world now drinks White House Ale.

        Mitt's full of it / Ryan's lyin' -- "Your money and your life."

        by BusyinCA on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:29:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I humbly accept your acclaim, harrumph, and so on. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BusyinCA

          I proclaim that everyone shall savor their current beer, and give much thought and consideration to the next one.
          Now for an inspiring story from my life for your edification.
          One day I had finished building some wine and beer shelves in the crawlspace,and after my labors wished to sit down ( I don't recall if this was the seventh day). I noticed mud on my pants, and asked my wife, "How's my ass?" And she said,"It's fine." And so, from that day to this, I have had a fine ass. Every time I remind her of this, she says,"And it's smart, too."
          Thanks, you've been a great audience, and fine appreciators of beer.

          The man who worries morning and night about the dandelions in the lawn will find great relief in learning to love the dandelions. Liberty Hyde Bailey, 1910

          by Grainpaw on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 09:47:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  cynical, he is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Grainpaw, bsegel

      Hi Grainpaw. I did also have the thought of whether this was really inside the "homebrew" law, though if Mr. Kass stayed under 200 gallons/yr couldn't he share with anyone he wanted?

      "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

      by esquimaux on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 07:58:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Laws vary from state to state (0+ / 0-)

        and are a total mish-mash. Homebrewing is still illegal in Alabama, and maybe some other state. There is a page on the status of states somewhere on homebrewersassociation.org . In Wisconsin, it was recently legalized for homebrewers to take beer outside the home it was brewed in. In Washington or Oregon, club participation in festivals has been canceled by a reinterpretation of some liquor board regulation. And so on. In West Virginia, around 7 years ago, a micro-distillery law was passed to accommodate a farm winery owner who wanted to make brandy and whiskey. Ever since, every few months, I get some customer in my shop swearing it is legal to make up to 200 gallons of moonshine a year. And I have to tell them, "Yes, if you have all the state and federal permits in order and file monthly reports and tax payments."
        Practically speaking, it would be hard to exceed 200 gallons of brew or wine a year with 5-gallon equipment. Also note, the 200 gallons is for a head of household. For a single person, the limit is 100 gallons per year. These are the federal rules. But unless you draw attention by selling wine or beer without all the licenses (which also vary by state), nobody is going to come around and inspect your production records.
        Back to the president, if he is paying the expenses and the White House operations budget is paying the chef, how is this different from running an unlicensed brewery, other than that the final product isn't actually sold. As soon as someone hears that I make wine or beer, they ask if I will sell them some. Really, if there were some low-cost category where I could just sell 6-packs and file reports, until I worked my way up to nano-brewery level, then pay some taxes and get more official, then continue upscaling the operation, I would have a microbrewery that employed a few people by now, instead of a piddly little one-day-a-week supply shop, after 21 years. In WV, a farm winery license is $25 a year. A brewery license is $1500. There is no consistency, rhyme or reason to the laws and regulations. The legislators don't know about what they are writing laws about, and the bureaucrats in the ABC only know what is in their regulations. They also have internal unwritten regulations. Then there was the time I was sampling someone's homebrew (as happens sometimes, or wine) in my shop, and there was an open bottle and half-full glasses on the counter, and a state Dept. of Natural Resources officer with uniform and gun came in looking for and address that was on the other side of the street. I set him straight and he went on about his mission. i don't know if he even noticed the beer, or thought it was some kind of bar, or what, but I never had any more about it. I used to call the ABC to ask about one thing or another when I was more ambitious about starting a winery or brewery. and only once talked to someone who made sense like a normal human being. Once i asked about buying honey from a beekeepers co-op and making mead in the back room of the shop. It would have been a 100% WV product, which was the intent of the farm winery law. The answer, a few days later was that I would have to produce 25% of the honey on my premises to meet the letter of the law. Practically, this meant that I would have to put the hives on the roof of the building and access everything by ladder, as the hives would have been susceptible to vandals and flooding on the ground. End result, no meadery.
        Uh, did that answer the question?

        The man who worries morning and night about the dandelions in the lawn will find great relief in learning to love the dandelions. Liberty Hyde Bailey, 1910

        by Grainpaw on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:52:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  talk about a potential fundraiser... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akeitz, BusyinCA, bsegel

    I'd fork over some real cheddar for a case of Obama White House Ale... Ooooo and wouldn't the wingnuts heads implode if the WH made a "Halb-Weißer"(hefeweizen)... ;)

    Dudehisattva...

    "Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"

    by Dood Abides on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 07:39:03 PM PDT

  •  Well, we know one thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BusyinCA, bsegel

    There will be NO presidential approved beer in a Romney White House.

    Has Fox News noted that the question -- would you rather have a beer with Obama or Romney -- can't be asked this year.

    Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.

    by MoDem on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 07:48:58 PM PDT

  •  There was an article in The Washington Post too (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bsegel, Ian S

    Coalition of the swilling .

    There is good reason to presume that beer is a way for Obama to connect with voters. It presents a contrast with Romney, who doesn’t drink (and who was ordering vanilla ice cream in a 1950s-style parlor in Ohio when Obama was buying beers at the fair). Consumer research shows that beer is most popular with the very voters that Obama and Romney are fighting over: middle-America independents.

    According to Scarborough USA, 35 percent of these voters say they’ve had a beer in the past 30 days, compared with 30 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of Republicans. The numbers are even starker when focused on microbrews, with 45 percent of independents saying they drank one in the past month — and only 25 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of Republicans saying the same.

    Who knew? I'm a staunch microbrew drinking Democrat.  Right now I'm enjoying a Flying Fish Brewery Extra Pale Ale, a fine New Jersey brew!
  •  Hi all (0+ / 0-)

    I had a Greenflash West Coast IPA with dinner.

  •  it's hot here... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bsegel

    To start my summer staycation, Paulaner hefeweizens with lemon and then a green flash west coast ipa after the sun went down. Nice and relaxed now...

    •  Hot here, too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bsegel

      The draft of the evening is Silver Moon Snake Bite Porter, brewed in Bend, OR.  Thick head, lots of complex malt flavors, with a tiny touch of sweetness in the finish.  @ 5.7% alcohol, the 22 oz. leaves room for a 12 oz. Widmer Rotator IPA which will provide a sharp and hoppy contrast to the full-bodied Porter.

    •  my tastes exactly! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bsegel

      Paulaner is great stuff. Maybe I like Franziskaner better. Time for another side-by-side tasting :) Then the California hoppy beers!

      "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

      by esquimaux on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:31:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Stones 16th Anniversary (0+ / 0-)

    I'll be at the 3:00 pm session of Stone's Anniversary party tomorrow if anyone out there is also going to be there. I'd love to meet up with you.

    I tried this years anniversary ale last night, you can really taste the lemon and it is spicy. It was ok, but not awesome.

  •  I was hoping to get a saison started (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bsegel, Grainpaw

    this year, but a move and subsequent lack of cash  (and the season ending) is making that difficult. I'm going to have to see if Portsmouth Brewing Co. does growlers, their saison was tasty.

    So it will probably be a red ale, next, as well as a JOAM for a friend's handfasting.

    Tonight I had a tasty sweet stout, but I think I'm stopping at one. I've given a lot of this batch away, and I can see the end coming. Yes, I still have 20 or so more left, but...

    I have a lot more golden ale, but it's far less dessert-y. I brewed it for people who don't like stout. It worked. Oh, it's tasty, but it will also be a good recipe to try out the taste of different hops on, ya know?

    Get 10% off with KATALOGUE2012 at my shop, or go to the Kos Katalogue!

    by LoreleiHI on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:37:56 PM PDT

  •  The White House must publish the recipies so that (0+ / 0-)

    all of us home brewers can make the White House ales for ourselves and toast the health of the brewmaster president!

    We have beehives too and would love to make the beer. There should be both malt extract and all-grain versions of each recipe available--after all we are (gladly) paying for it!

  •  Last night was split (0+ / 0-)

    I had one of my Standard House Transexu-ales, and one hard cider, both home-brews. This week I've started buying parts for the Brutus 10 variant I'm building, which will be my final step towards all-grain brewing.

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