Beers at the White House: What Their Choices Say About the Men Involved

In case you hadn't heard, these three guys are going to sip some brews at the White House today and talk about race relations. If racism hasn't been eradicated by the end of this little tete-a-tete (trete-a-trete?), it's hard to believe it ever will.

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.

Grade: B-

(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.

Grade: F+


*Unconfirmed, but I'll go ahead and claim the mantle.


  1. Excellent, Jordan!


  2. agreed. all around. though i have to say my biggest beef is w/crowley. as a boston native and lover of all things new england, i feel personally insulted that the most obvious choice, Sam Summer, wasn't made.

    and i know it would be wishful thinking to hope for Harpoon, Red Hook or Smuttynose.

    rep boston. seriously.

  3. I'm so disappointed in our President. I mean, if the Busch family had delivered the Bud Light on a wagon pulled by clydesdales, then maybe I'd be ok with it. But they don't even own the company anymore!

    If Crowley isn't going to choose Sam Adams, he could at least stay in New England and go with some Magic Hat #9.

  4. oh magic hat...can't believe i forgot that. crowley blew it.

  5. How did I not know you were the country's foremost Christian beer snob writer?! I guess I should have known . . .

    Goose Island has amazing oatmeal stout ice cream, btw. And their oatmeal stout beer is nice as well.

    I have to say Blue Moon does have a bit of a bite. That was about the only tolerable sample on the Coors tour. But Bud Light? I thought he invited them to the White House for beer . . .

  6. Laura Wutzke-LucasJuly 30, 2009 at 9:31 AM

    Wow you ARE a beer snob Jordan! I agree Bud Light is pretty bad, but after living in Denver and working for Coors, I gotta say I don't mind a Blue Moon or a Coors Light now and then. And seriously, the President basically HAD to choose Budweiser. It's like the all-American beer. Unfortunately Coors hasn't been as widely distributed for as long and PBR is now the vestige of hipsters. At least he didn't choose a Miller Lite though, now THAT would have been a bad choice. :-)

  7. Great post.

    Have you tried Missouri's better beer, that of Boulevard Brewing Company located in Kansas City http://www.blvdbeer.com/beer.htm. I like it. Budweiser is like the Cardinals...over marketed, diluted and bad. I'm a Royals fan.

  8. @Eric:

    I DID have a Boulevard brew for the first time recently. It was a quadruple ale. Very good stuff.


    I forgot to mention Budweiser is now owned by a Belgian company, though I'm sure conservative talk radio will be all over that in the next week.

  9. Jordan,
    What are your thoughts on Pabst? I'm no beer snob, but I can't help but love this little Charlie Brown Christmas tree of beers and it's plain simple can. Sure it costs only slightly more than beer created solely for frat party pong games (here's looking at you Natty light) but I dunno, I think it tastes good.

  10. @Emily:

    I spent my early 20s like most other broke Portland hipsters, so the PBR tallboy six-pack for $3.49 at the Ainsworth/MLK Safeway was a staple.

    My friends did a cheap beer blind taste test a few months ago. Apparently, PBR finished at the top of Steve's list. Across the board, though, Mickey's was a surprise success. I've never done one myself, so I couldn't tell you for sure.

  11. They really should have picked one beer to share, splitting a sixer OR each guy bringing beer to share with the other two. With everyone picking their own beer, what progress in racial/social/cultural relations should we really expect?

  12. Apparently this post had an effect on the beer choice, but sadly, not in the president's choice. You will notice that Sam Adams did make it to the table.

  13. I should point out, I am not advocating Sam Adams beer. I think it's a better choice than Bud Light and Blue Moon, but I still think Sam Adams is an overrated brewery.

    Take their chocolate bock, for instance. It's a special, limited edition. It's a 22-ouncer, but one bottle retails for around $15. It's alcohol content is 5.6% (a bit higher than Blue Moon).

    I mean, where do they get off charging $15 for a beer like that, and one that doesn't even have good ratings?!


  14. @Jordan - I didn't mean to suggest you were endorsing Sam Adams.

    However, since it is now brewed locally here in Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania, I'm happy to endorse it as my average-occasion beer. It's not, however, what I will choose when I go out for dinner or with friends. I definitely prefer trying the local stout or the microbrew that goes best with my meal.

  15. Ahhh Jordan you crack me up! Brilliant! I read somewhere that Gates had Sam Adams Light... I would like to hear your comments on Bidens choice "Bucklers"

  16. I wondered about Biden's choice myself. Initially I thought it was because of the accident that took the life of his wife, but upon researching that thought, that accident was not alcohol related. It turns out Biden is a lifelong teetotaler, and apparently has never had a drop of alcohol in his life, which I find a little hard to believe since he is both Catholic and even non-alcoholic beer has <1% alcohol.

    But he is apparently a teetotaler, which also ruins my theory about why he can sometimes never stop talking...

  17. I tend to fall back on Blue Moon in many occasions. What can I say? I'm a girl.

    And I recently had a Widmer's, not knowing it was a Portland brew, and I didn't really like it.

    I'm sorry.

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  19. I love me some Sam Adams. The Boston Lager is my default brew. Their Cream Stout and Scotch Ale are among the best out there (see aforementioned Beer Advocate) and their Double Bock seriously rocks with great malty flavor and a well-hidden 9.5% ABV. And that doesn't even get into seasonal brews like Old Fezziwig Ale.

    I can't speak for chocolate bock, but there are several really good brews from Boston Beer Co.

    Now, Bud Light? I don't see how anyone drinks that horse piss. They should be sued for falsely advertising that as beer.