As you probably know, President Barack Obama has set-up a home brewing operation in the White House’s kitchen, and he has shared bottles of the homebrew while on the campaign trail. The White House has recently released the recipe and sparked a whole new interest in home brewing. But just what would the White House beer taste like?
Three varieties of beer have been produced by the White House cooks, and the White House Honey Ale and White House Honey Porter recipes were published on the White House Blog (the third variety, White House Honey Blonde, has not yet been detailed.) The recipes are very straight-forward, and the should be easy to reproduce even for beginner homebrewers.
A few beer experts have taken a look at the recipe and shared their thoughts on what to expect if you undertake brewing some yourself. Speaking with the New York Times beer guru and Brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewing Company Garrett Oliver says:
[The] honey will give its own distinct flavor to the beer, but the sugars in honey will ferment completely, so the honey adds no sweetness. [The beer will be] Light, crisp and dry, with some bready flavors from the malts, floral notes from the honey, and fruitiness from the British ale yeast. Altogether pleasant, great with seafood and salads, goat cheeses, or hanging out in the sunshine in the Rose Garden.
The beers use honey from Michelle Obama’s own hives on the White House’s south lawn in their recipes, and Ray Daniels, founder and head of the Beer Cicerone program and author of several excellent homebrewing books, adds (in an interview with Business week):
Putting honey in them is a very American bastardization, if you will. It’s almost the sort of thing that the founding fathers might have done to take a traditional recipe from England and innovate by adding some local, homegrown ingredients to it. They are both pretty malty and on the sweeter side of the scale in overall balance. That will certainly make them crowd pleasers or at least unobjectionable to a broad range of people.
The fervor surrounding the White House homebrew has been steadily growing since Obama first gave a bottle to a man, who was later discovered to be a beer writer, in Iowa. The whole episode might be the natural result of an impassioned homebrewer sharing his beer with people he meets, or it might be a calculated (and brilliant) political maneuver to paint Obama as an everyman not afraid to DIY or to throw back a few 7%ABV bottles of beer. Either way, we can’t think of many things that embody the Beer of Tomorrow spirit than the American President homebrewing in the White House (or at least having a hand in the homebrew made for him by the staff)!
Keen to try your hand at a batch of the White House Honey Ale? Norther Brewer, a homebrewing supply internet super-store, now has pre-packaged kits based on the recipe! About $45 gets you all the ingredients you need to brew a batch, and another $80-$120 will buy you all of the necessary equipment. It takes about a month for the beer to ferment and condition in the bottles before it is ready to drink, but if you start soon you can have bottles available to celebrate/drown-your-sorrows on election night!
- WhiteHouse.gov – Ale to the Chief
- The New York Times – White House Beer: A Brewer Weighs In
- Business Week -A Top Beer Sommelier Assesses Obama’s Home-Brew Recipe