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Ale to the Chief
September 1, 2012 1:24 PM   Subscribe

After much online fervor, speculation, and FOIA requests, the White House has released the recipe for its home-brewed honey ale and honey porter.
posted by T.D. Strange (67 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Huh, malt extract. Unexpected!
posted by curious nu at 1:36 PM on September 1, 2012


..and the prize for the one We the People petition ever to get a serious and detailed response goes to...
posted by jaduncan at 1:38 PM on September 1, 2012 [34 favorites]


Dry yeast? That does it, I'm voting for the other guy.
posted by mollweide at 1:42 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dry yeast? That does it, I'm voting for the other guy.

How would he be an improvement? He doesn't drink any beer at all, and he's not even using the I-can't-believe-this-is-beer Budweiser exemption.
posted by jaduncan at 1:44 PM on September 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


Dammit, I'm fresh out of White House Honey.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:44 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


In response, the Romney campaign has released Mitt's personal recipe for "Mitt's Special Caviar Toast Points":

STEP ONE:
Tell butler you want caviar and toast.

STEP TWO:
Enjoy.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:46 PM on September 1, 2012 [134 favorites]


You guys have one of the coolest supreme leaders. Ours sucks.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:47 PM on September 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


"If you want to make caviar and toast from scratch, you must first create the hedge fund."
posted by jaduncan at 1:47 PM on September 1, 2012 [48 favorites]


Pfft. The artisan nano brewery that my grandma has attached to her wheelchair produces better beer than this.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:49 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


The detail I find most fascinating here is that President Obama seems to have paid for the brewing equipment out of his own pocket.
posted by Sokka shot first at 1:50 PM on September 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm kind of surprised there isn't a disclaimer to the effect that actually following this recipe is illegal in some states.

It sounds like a good recipe, although White House Honey sounds tricky to source.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:56 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


You guys have one of the coolest supreme leaders. Ours sucks.

Huh? This is merica. We dont habe no supreme nonthing.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:59 PM on September 1, 2012


Obama is not going to lose the "which candidate would you have a beer with?" primary
posted by empath at 1:59 PM on September 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


Malt extract is one thing, but bottling with corn sugar? Clearly a high crime or misdemenor.
posted by eriko at 2:00 PM on September 1, 2012


Hops & Change!
posted by chavenet at 2:02 PM on September 1, 2012 [21 favorites]


Malt extract is one thing, but bottling with corn sugar? Clearly a high crime or misdemenor.

No, that's pretty standard AFAIK.
posted by goethean at 2:03 PM on September 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Unconfirmed: Ingredients include the tears of orphans and crushed baby unicorns.
posted by Artw at 2:07 PM on September 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Bottling with corn sugar is no biggie. It's easier to deal with than dry extract and carbonates the beer faster. I thought you were supposed to mash biscuit malt, though.
posted by mollweide at 2:12 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love this.
posted by odinsdream at 2:14 PM on September 1, 2012


They did note that they'd never done this before, so I'll cut them some slack for the extracts and corn sugar. It's not as if any of us would turn down a taste.
posted by hanoixan at 2:16 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sure most 'merikins consider this to be vital FOIA information.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:23 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


feloniousmonk: "I'm kind of surprised there isn't a disclaimer to the effect that actually following this recipe is illegal in some states.

It sounds like a good recipe, although White House Honey sounds tricky to source.
"

Land of the free and you're not even allowed to brew your own beer in some places?

Fuck that noise.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:24 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


T.D. Strange, this has got to be one of the best post titles EVAR.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:25 PM on September 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


The detail I find most fascinating here is that President Obama seems to have paid for the brewing equipment out of his own pocket.

Can you imagine the "your tax dollars spent for Obama's personal brewery" hit ads otherwise?
posted by Thorzdad at 2:25 PM on September 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


An new brewing tradition that will be wiped out if Romney wins. Vote your conscience, people!
posted by arcticseal at 2:27 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am really not sure there is anything this man could do to make me love him more.

O.B.A.M.A.
posted by fancyoats at 2:29 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The second recipe looks suspiciously like one you'd find in Charlie Papazian's Complete Joy of Homebrewing - basically the bible of homebrewing.

Among other things, Papazian advocates extract brewing for beginners. And, more tellingly, the recipe calls for "10 HBUs" of bittering hops. That's "home bitterness units," an alternate method of measuring hop bitterness that Papazian developed.
posted by sixpack at 2:29 PM on September 1, 2012


I don't condemn them for starting out 'lame' wiith extract. To me, it's validation that this is a genuine attempt. Sure, they could have contracted out for someone to come in and do huge all-grain batches, but that would have been so contrived. I like the fact that my own brewing follows almost the same procedures and ingredients. (Yes, I do use liquid yeast and all-grain for some batches.)
posted by The Sprout Queen at 2:34 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


The honey ale looks like it would make a nice flavorful but smooth session beer - maybe I'll finally get off my ass and try a batch, I haven't brewed in way too long.

There's nothing shameful about using malt extract, especially if you're steeping some grains to give it a little more depth. Nothing shameful with using corn sugar either... it's predictable and reliable. If your timing and temperatures aren't wildly out of range and your sanitation is good, you will wind up with delicious beer that tastes just as good as many microbrews.

Hobbies are supposed to be fun... if you're thinking about getting into homebrewing, don't lurk for too long on internet forums; you're liable to get so intimidated/discouraged that you never even set foot in a supply shop.
posted by usonian at 2:40 PM on September 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think a shoutout to President Carter for making this legal in the White House (and elsewhere) is appropriate here.
posted by tommasz at 2:45 PM on September 1, 2012 [30 favorites]


The perfect accoutrement for this beverage.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:49 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


So all this attention on Obamabeer one of those "dog whistles" reminding everyone that Mitt's a Mormon?
posted by straight at 2:59 PM on September 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Can't go wrong with EKGs and Fuggles, biscuit malt and honey goes together very nicely as well. Does seem a little suspiciously English though...
posted by brilliantmistake at 3:01 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


In high school I made psychedelic fruit wine out of kool-aid, sugar, water, some wild strawberries, a quarter bag of magic mushrooms, and a packet of yeast dumped into an empty plastic 2-liter soda bottle with a balloon rubber-banded over the opening. In a couple of weeks when the balloon was inflated my friends and I drank that shit and went to see Swans play a thoroughly intense show.

I like to think the White House has similar experiences when they've got a new batch ready.
posted by item at 3:08 PM on September 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


So all this attention on Obamabeer one of those "dog whistles" reminding everyone that Mitt's a Mormon?

It may be a dogwhistle, but beer has played a more prominent role in this administration's PR than any administration in my (short) memory. I don't see any nefarious anti-mormon messaging here. Just a guy who probably does have a genuine enthusiasm for beer and definitely wanted to score well on the "guy I'd like to have a beer with" metric.

I tried to think of other nonissues that divide the two but ultimately all I could think of is Bishop Romney and his troop of Eagle Scout priests getting stuffed in the paint by Barack. Or some other basketbally thing.
posted by polyhedron at 3:19 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like to think the White House has similar experiences when they've got a new batch ready.

BIIIIIIIIIDEN! *shakes fist*
posted by jaduncan at 3:21 PM on September 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I remember when G.W. Bush "won" (let's ignore that Supreme Court unpleasantness for the moment) the presidency, the media kept saying it was because "he's someone people would like to have a beer with."

I would rather have a beer with someone who brews his own any day. (Ok, even if in this case he's the President of the United States and therefore too busy, so he outsources the brewing to the White House chefs. It does still sound like it was his idea, and it's well in keeping with the addition of the White House vegetable gardens.)
posted by dnash at 3:25 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, god. The guy who wrote the press release clearly had a lot of fun with it....
With public excitement about White House beer fermenting such a buzz, we decided we better hop right to it...
posted by schmod at 3:33 PM on September 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


So all this attention on Obamabeer one of those "dog whistles" reminding everyone that Mitt's a Mormon?

If so, it's more of a generic attack against Republicans, perhaps - after all, GWB was a recovering alcoholic, and sober for the 8 years of his administration (at least as far as we know...!)
posted by scolbath at 3:38 PM on September 1, 2012


Oh good, we must have solved all other problems while I was taking a nap.
How nice that they finally respect FOIA when someone wants a fucking beer recipe.
i need another nap
posted by moammargaret at 3:38 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


So all this attention on Obamabeer one of those "dog whistles" reminding everyone that Mitt's a Mormon?

If he starts roasting his own coffee, it's on.
posted by goethean at 3:58 PM on September 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm sure the "I'm not mormon" factor doesn't hurt when the PR people decide to respond to inquiries and such.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:04 PM on September 1, 2012


schmod: Oh, god. The guy who wrote the press release clearly had a lot of fun with it....

If by "clearly had a lot of fun with it" you mean "continued to carry on the longstanding tradition among newspaper reporters of lazily passing off horribly unclever puns off as an attempt at journalism" then I'd have to agree we're all on the same page here.
posted by item at 4:10 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


The detail I find most fascinating here is that President Obama seems to have paid for the brewing equipment out of his own pocket.
Unless it's an official state function, the first family has to pay for it's own groceries and food (they are billed like a hotel when the chefs cook). Specialty items such as microbrew equipment would probably be considered extracurricular. (Though I don't know how labor and food from the garden is calculated.)
posted by thebestsophist at 4:12 PM on September 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Honey porter? That's both racist and sexist!
posted by srboisvert at 4:15 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


If by "clearly had a lot of fun with it" you mean "continued to carry on the longstanding tradition among newspaper reporters of lazily passing off horribly unclever puns off as an attempt at journalism" then I'd have to agree we're all on the same page here.

It's written by the White House blog, probably by a PR person. They're not journalists. When Journalists copy their press releases almost verbatim it is a bit pathetic, but simply putting them out is a routine duty for a public official's staff.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:25 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am really not sure there is anything this man could do to make me love him more.

Oh, I don't know. Close Guantanamo and dismantle the American gulag, stop the drone assassinations, withdraw from Afghanistan, I can think of a couple of decisions almost as good as turning the White House into a home brewery...
posted by MartinWisse at 4:40 PM on September 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


"The Audacity of Hops."
posted by MegoSteve at 4:49 PM on September 1, 2012 [14 favorites]


We give the President a house and staff, among other generous amenities, but then nickel and dime him for the food? That's crazy. It probably amounts to a rounding error on all the other expenses.

Anyway, I can't get into whitehouse.gov; perhaps the recipe is so popular the traffic it has generated has pulled down the site? ;)
posted by caddis at 5:01 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The Audacity of Hops."

Been done. (I tried it; not bad.)
posted by A dead Quaker at 5:11 PM on September 1, 2012


If he starts roasting his own coffee, it's on.

Mr. President, I understand this coffee is of Kenyan origin? Or perhaps Indonesian?

Kidding!
posted by A dead Quaker at 5:16 PM on September 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Mitt doesn't drink coffee either.
posted by caddis at 5:28 PM on September 1, 2012


That's the point of the joke, Caddis... ;)
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:34 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am reading this thread while drinking the first bottle of beer that I ever made for myself.

Yes, I used extract and partial boiled, and bottled it with corn sugar, but it turned out way better than I expected (which just means it was drinkable).

It was pretty cool to watch this video and see that the WH is using mostly the same equipment and process that I did. I'm pretty sure that in his second term, he will switch to all-grain, full boil etc.
posted by bashos_frog at 5:44 PM on September 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Love that they went with the 'any homebrewer' approach. I have a cheap airlock just like those, though I just got a glass one for this year's grape harvest. Now, one bit of sophistication: They make filtered tubes for siphoning?!?
posted by zangpo at 6:46 PM on September 1, 2012


Unless it's an official state function, the first family has to pay for it's own groceries and food.

Fascinating! I had no idea.
posted by Sokka shot first at 6:49 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Looks pretty similar to the kind of homebrew that I've made, both the recipes and the technique. Probably tastes pretty good.
posted by octothorpe at 7:02 PM on September 1, 2012


I think a shoutout to President Carter for making this legal in the White House (and elsewhere) is appropriate here.

As I understand it, Mississippi and Alabama continue to have several laws on the books prohibiting happiness and good cheer.
posted by Winnemac at 7:55 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


A co-worker was recently stung by a bee during a lunch outting Lafayette park by the White House. Another American injured by a drone attack.
posted by humanfont at 9:00 PM on September 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


What great timing, my homebrew kit isn't doing anything at the moment.

Though I might have to substitute out the White House honey. I don't think scaling the White House fence is going to get me the product.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 9:32 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


They make filtered tubes for siphoning?!?

There was a little cap thingie that went onto the end of my siphoning wand. I think it just keeps it from hoovering up the sediment at the bottom too much. I still got a tiny bit at the bottom of my bottles though.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:22 PM on September 1, 2012


He'll need a couple of choppers full of Rangers to keep the flanneled neckbeards from climbing the fence to lecture him about his technique.

'There's one on the roof!'
'YOU CAN'T STEEP BISCUIT MA..."
*BLAM*
'On your six!'
' YOU'VE DANGEROUSLY UNDERPI...'
*BLAM*
'Near the hive!'
'HOT SIDE AERATIO...'
*BLAM* *BLAM* *BLAM*
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:58 AM on September 2, 2012 [14 favorites]


So all this attention on Obamabeer one of those "dog whistles" reminding everyone that Mitt's a Mormon?

I wonder if it isn't as much that Obama isn't a Muslim.
posted by jaduncan at 3:22 AM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


From thebestsophist's link:

At the end of each month, the president receives a bill for his food and incidental expenses. Nancy Reagan was famously taken aback by this practice when an usher presented her first bill in 1981, saying, “Nobody ever told us the president and his wife are charged for every meal, as well as incidentals like dry cleaning, toothpaste, and other toiletries.”

...former White House chief usher Gary Walters said that he couldn’t remember any first families not complaining about the high prices of the food. Walters added that Rosalynn Carter was particularly miffed by the high-priced fare, which must have been a bit more expensive than what she’d been getting in Georgia.


I had no idea.
posted by mediareport at 5:35 AM on September 2, 2012


I still got a tiny bit at the bottom of my bottles though.

If you bottle conditioned the beer -- that is, used a sugar of some sort to restart the fermentation in the bottle to carbonate it -- then you will always have a tiny bit at the bottom.

Buy any six pack of Bell's beer, who bottle conditions, and you'll see the same thing.

As to priming sugar? No. Just use malt extract. Boil 1 cups of DME up with water, cool a bit, throw it in. It will take a bit longer to fully carbonate. The nutrients that come in with the DME, will make for a better beer, and on light bodied beers, it makes a huge difference. On a bit malty dark bomb beer, the products of dextrose fermentation won't be noticeable at all. And, if you're trying to brew a Reinheitsgebot* compliant beer, well, that corn sugar isn't going to cut it.

Another way is, after racking off most of the beer, is to take some of the wort before yeast is added and put it into the fridge. After fermentation, you reboil and add it back to the beer. This way, the only thing being fermented is, well, the wort the beer was made from. This is how production breweries doing cask and bottle conditioning prime their beers.

That reboil is important. Wort is damn near the perfect medium for bacteria.


* And, technically, it is impossible to brew a Reinheitsgebot compliant beer. The law allowed only these things in beer -- Water, Hops, and Barley. Note they don't mention yeast. They didn't understand that yeast was involved. Bavarian brewers would take some of the sediment from a previous batch and add it to the next, thus adding yeast, but as the law was written, you can't explicitly add it.

The Vorläufiges Deutsches Biergesetz of 1993, or the Provisional German Brewing Law, allows water, yeast, hops, barley malt (but not unmalted barely), wheat malt, and cane sugar.

It is interesting the number of German wheat bears that claim to be compliant with Reinheitsgebot, but on the face, they are lying. One of the key reasons for Reinheitsgebot was that people were using too much wheat and rye to brew beer, and not enough wheat and rye to bake bread, thus driving up the costs of bread. The law was passed to both make sure that there was enough bread to keep prices reasonable, and to mandate the price of beer -- 1-2 pfenning per Maß. The Maß is the standard measure of beer in Germany, and to this day, is the standard unit of beer sold at Oktoberfest. In Bavaria, the Maß was 1.07 liters, it's been standardized to exactly 1 liter.
posted by eriko at 7:07 AM on September 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


I use DME with hoppier beers, and maple syrup for maltier beers. I used to use corn sugar until I realised that most of them are GMO. I found a California-based company that sells organic corn sugar, but living in Vermont it makes more sense for me to use local maple syrup than ship the other stuff across the country.

I am working on an open-fermentation beer. Have a couple of bottles with sweet wort around the house to see where I get the best wild yeast. Hopefully something worth using is around. My homebrew club is having a "local ingredients encouraged" beer competition. I will use my own hops and maybe coriander seed from my garden this time. Going to brew a few small batches with the wild yeast first before using it in a larger batch though.

I think it is cool the WH published this recipe and that it is more approachable for the average home brewer.
posted by terrapin at 12:49 PM on September 2, 2012


George Washington's Recipe for Beer
posted by homunculus at 1:46 PM on September 2, 2012


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