I have been avoiding this topic on purpose. First, order it’s that ugly political season and this is not a political issue. Partisan politics is good at driving people apart and beer is good at bringing them together. Whatever ills arise between people can often be soothed by a draught of beer and a cup of merriment. In fact, beer is so intertwined into the fabric of our nation that it cannot be neatly undone and cast aside. Beer is part and parcel of the American dream, a beverage whose roots are democratic, thus serving as a microcosm through which to view our nation, preferably while staring through the bottom of an upturned glass.
I have been accosted by a number of people suggesting that I be excited about President Obama being a homebrewer. I nod and smile but rarely share my real thoughts. Here they are, in no particular order:
- President Obama is not a homebrewer. He has the White House kitchen staff on the task. I am disappointed that he did not take it on himself to do this, at least once, but he has bigger fish to fry, so it is probably better that he leave the beer making to others. I am also happy that he is not engaging other culinary adventures like baking pies or making the perfect salmon mousse. Division of labor is a good thing in this case.
- This is possibly the first time beer has been made in the White House. Huzzah! Way to go, Barack!
- Having beer being made in the White House advances what we do by making it more visible. Growing the homebrewing industry benefits us all.
- They used local honey. Even better, honey from hives in the White House beehives. That’s awesome! (As an aside, it is illegal for DC residents to keep bees, although some do, but I guess certain privileges come with the job of president. Look at John Kennedy – if only he raised bees and made beer instead of knocking boots so darned much. He could have kept the country well oiled for years!)
- The recipes released were disappointing. This is the White House, for Pete’s sake. They have five-star chefs on staff and the best they could do was use a couple extract recipes. There’s nothing at all wrong with extracts but with that level of competency in the kitchen, you’d think they could figure out an all-grain system, even if it meant Obama himself going down to Home Depot to get a couple coolers. A little bit of research could have gone a long way to ensure they put out a sophisticated-looking recipe.
- On the other hand, extract brewing is where most people start. This gives a homebrewer or potential homebrewer hope in a simple process. Even a beginning brewer could knock out those recipes pretty easily. That’s cool. With a little work, I can drink the same beer President Obama drinks while cheering on the Redskins or entertaining foreign dignitaries.
That’s pretty much it. Let’s keep it non-political here and all just agree that White House homebrewing is a good thing. I can get behind a guy like that, who wants to experiment with new ideas and do something that has not been done before. Now the gauntlet has been thrown down. What kind of beer would Romney make?