Friday, July 31, 2009


More than any other beverage in the world, people identify with the brand of beer they drink. If you like to think of yourself as the rugged outdoorsy-type, it’s quite possible that you love the “head for the mountains” attitude of a Busch beer or drink Coors which has been marketed as a “refreshment as cold as the Rockies.” If you daydream every day about sunning yourself on a pristine beach as you sit typing TPS reports in the cubicle at your 9-5, it’s quite probable that at 5:02pm you’re on your way to drinking a Corona.

These are stereotypical images, yes, but in our experience, generally speaking and flavor aside, the type of beer people drink usually says something about who that person wants to be or who that person wants to be seen as. That’s Advertising and Marketing 101. But that leads us to the question: In a year where the current administration has been fraught with vetting issues, why oh why would someone have let Sgt. Jim Crowley - the man lambasted as a racist and accused of acting ‘stupidly’ – why oh why would anyone have let him drink a Blue Moon, a Belgian-style WHITE ale?

And did anyone happen to notice that Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., the man at the center of the racial controversy was considering of drinking a Red Stripe, a beer which is often associated with its country of origin, Jamaica, and all the Rastafari / Reggae implications (fair or unfair) that go along with that lifestyle: which, according to Wikipedia, alludes to “Afrocentric social and political aspirations” and other things that could be frightening to white people. Thank God he changed his mind and went with the local (well, East Coast anyway) brewer, Sam Adams.

Whose job was it to vet the beer choices consumed at the most widely broadcasted, written, tweeted, and blogged about happy hour east of the sun? Just because one doesn’t necessarily have to worry about a beer having “tax problems,” doesn’t mean that a beer can’t speak volumes about its drinker’s character. President Obama picked a Bud Light – crisp, clean, refreshing, literally the most popular beer in the world and a seemingly safe, politically correct choice. The President of the United States drinking Bud Light looked about as wholesome as babies, football and apple pie. Except for the fact that Bud Light is no longer owned by a U.S. company. (In fact, none of the beers are from American-owned companies.) Oh, and also that the choice of a huge overseas corporation irked a lot of local craft and artisanal brewers who thought that the time had finally come for craft beer to be welcomed into the White House and publically lauded by the President of the United States.

For craft brewers it was as if President Obama drove up to the “Beer Summit” in a Toyota. In the political arena, nothing is just a little thing. Everything is scrutinized and politicized. And the lack of forethought that went into the implications of these beer choices is astounding in these hyper-mediac times. Obama might as well have been drinking Daschle Ale or Bill Richardson Pilsner.

We’ve been (ahem) “vetting” beer for years now and as beer sommeliers have immersed ourselves in the beer culture. We would have been happy to offer these fully vetted suggestions. Here are some craft beers that we would have chosen if we had been asked, which we obviously were not (Call us, Rahm Emanuel) for the illustrious “Beer Summit:”

Death and Taxes, Moonlight Brewing Co. Fulton, California: Nothing is certain but death and taxes. But this schwarzbier is certainly a good way to bridge the gap. With roasty toasty coffee notes, this is a dark beer with a light body. ‘nuff said. 4.2% Alcohol by Volume (ABV).

Collaboration Not Litigation, Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, Colorado: A Belgian Strong Dark Ale with notes of dark fruit, spice and molasses. This ale is actually a collaboration between two breweries who released a beer of the same name, Salvation, they chose to work together on a brew instead of fight over the name. Can’t we all just get along? 9% ABV.

Brew Free or Die!, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, California: An American-style IPA served in a classic can. Bitter enough to cut through politics as usual, but balanced with a malty sweetness that will keep racial tempers from flaring up. 7.2% ABV.

Tea Bagged Furious, Surly Brewing Co., Brooklyn Center, Minnesota: Perhaps the gentlemen at the summit needed a little distraction and comic relief, in which case we suggest the topic of another media-fueled feud: The Rachael Maddow vs. Lou Dobbs fight, accompanied by this appropriate conversation-starter beer. Another American IPA with a much bigger punch than the above mentioned. The hops in this brew would have kicked away any memories of ‘mother’ comments, I.D. mix-ups, or ‘stupid’ foibles. ABV Unknown.

There’s one more beer we’d like to suggest:

Arrogant Bastard, Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, California: This one’s for us! 7.7% ABV.

Or maybe we should all just have had Black and Tans……

By Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune

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