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Deja Vu

August 30, 2012

Home Brews


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2012: In an historic Reddit interview, President Obama assured an anxious population that the recipe for the White House Honey Ale will “be out soon” and is “tasty.” An online petition (and a request via the Freedom of Information Act) call upon Obama to take his place on the barstool of history, joining George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin in releasing the recipe for the ale brewed specially the Commander in Chief. ABC news reports:

The honey ale—brewed from honey from the White House beehive—first came to light when President Obama served it to his guests at the White House during the 2011 Super Bowl, and then again on St. Patrick’s Day. Most recently, it became known that the president carries the beer with him on the campaign trail, where he offered a bottle to a potential voter in Iowa.

The FOIA, posted on Redditt by its submitter, argues that the recipe for the brew should be released for greater “public understanding of the operations or activities of the government,” but in a bolder move, adds, “”If you could send me a copy autographed by the president, you’d be the coolest FOIA officer in the whole federal government.”

Beer enthusiasts also started an online petition at the White House’s official “We the People” website, writing, “In keeping with the brewing traditions of the founding fathers, homebrewers across America call on the Obama administration to release the recipe for the White House home brew so that it may be enjoyed by all.”

1789: An avid beer drinker, George Washington procured his ales from brew masters in Philadelphia (eschewing the stouts made and imported by the British). In 2011, the New York Public Library unearthed a recipe for beer made specially for Washington and offered those brave enough to try it the chance to recreate the President's drink of choice:

To Make Small Beer: Take a large sifter full of bran hops to your taste. Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 gallons into a cooler put in 3 gallons molasses while the beer is scalding hot or rather draw the molasses into the cooler & strain the beer on it while boiling hot. Let this stand till it is little more than blood warm then put in a quart of yeast if the weather is very cold cover it over with a blanket & let it work in the cooler 24 hours then put it into the cask. Leave the bung open till it is almost done working. Bottle it that day week it was brewed.
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The brutalities of progress are called revolutions. When they are over we realize this: that the human has been roughly handled, but that it has advanced.
Victor Hugo, 1862
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Lewis H. Lapham is Editor of Lapham's Quarterly. He also serves as editor emeritus and national correspondent for Harper's magazine.
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