But what does each man's beverage of choice say about their taste? As the country's foremost Christian beer snob writer*, I thought I'd weigh in.
Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - Red Stripe (Jamaican-style Lager), 4.7% ABV
If given the choice of all three, this is the route I'd take. Caribbean and Mexican beers possess a certain level of charm and warm-weather ethos. Lager is a common-sense choice for tropical climes. Does a thick stout sound good if you're laying out on a sandy beach overlooking the breezy azure-blue sea? Plus, Red Stripe comes in those adorable little stubby bottles. With the lowest alcohol content on the list, perhaps Professor Gates is hoping to keep his wits about him, while the President and Officer Crowley get thoroughly plastered.
It's also difficult to ignore the racial implications in this selection. Red Stripe is a beer brewed in a country with a 90.9% Afro-Caribbean population.
(Update: For some reason, Professor Gates had a Sam Adams Light during the conference. I'm dropping him down to a C+.)
Officer James Crowley - Blue Moon (Belgian-style Wheat Beer), 5.4% ABV
Belgians are brewing masters, with a long heritage of crafting some of the finest and most unique beer in the world. Most Belgian beer relies on wild yeast strains to create complex layers of flavor. And there's nothing wrong with wheat beers, particularly those crafted in Germany (Paulaner, Schneider, etc.) and by Portland's Widmer Brothers. By choosing the only microbrew on the list, it seems as if Crowley is taking an impressive stance.
Unfortunately, Belgian wheat beers are uniformly disgusting, a horrifying mix of bizarre spice (coriander?) and banana bland. If you're putting an orange in your beer, you've gone wrong somewhere. Monkey vomit probably has more bite, because at least there's a tinge of stomach acid.
Worse, Blue Moon isn't even Belgian, and is owned by Coors Brewing. Drinking Blue Moon is roughly the equivalent of supping on an under-cooked TV dinner version of haggis. Is that what you'd choose to eat in the White House?
Why not represent your Mass-hole roots and at least crack a Sam Adams? Fortunately for Officer Crowley, it's not as if the President is in any position to judge.
Grade: D+ (you can't fault the guy for trying...at least Blue Moon is loosely considered a microbrew)
President Barack Obama - Bud Light (American-style Lager), 5% ABV
Look, the less said about this, the better. Even by American-style lager standards, Bud Light is awful. President Obama hails from Chicago, home to the 5th best beer region in the US (and some excellent breweries in Goose Island Brewing and Three Floyds).
It's difficult to see this as anything more than a political move, as swinging Missouri's 11 electoral votes to blue can only help in the 2012 election. Additionally, this pick clearly panders to the crucial frat-guy/d-bag demographic without having to actually resort to drinking Keystone Light.
To give you some perspective on how Bud Light tastes, consider this: my favorite beer of last year (Avery Brewing's Maharaja) has an IBU rating of 112. Bud Light's IBU? 6.4. I'm fairly certain the D.C. water supply has more flavor.
*Unconfirmed, but I'll go ahead and claim the mantle.