Domestic brewer backlash over Obama’s ‘foreign-beer summit’

Beer Flag by I am Jacques Strappe/
Beer Flag by I am Jacques Strappe/

By Jordan Melnick — Medill News Service

President Obama can’t catch a break lately.

As if he didn’t have enough to worry about with one war winding down, another ramping up and a recession doing one or the other depending on the day (or economic report). Now comes Gates-gate – the arrest of prominent black intellectual Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on his Cambridge front lawn by a white police officer that has (predictably) ignited a race skirmish.

To quell the situation, Obama – after inflaming tensions further by accusing the Cambridge police of “acting stupidly” – invited both Gates and the officer, James Crowley, to the White House for a reconciliatory beer. A smart quick-fix, one would think, cleverly designed to keep the controversy from derailing health care reform, which polls show is losing public support.

It backfired.

Seems the President took beer recommendations from his guests and no American brews made the list. Gates prefers Red Stripe, Crowley likes Blue Moon, and Obama’s brew of choice is Bud Light, according to a Wall Street Journal article. (A glass-half-full patriot might note that the drinking party was two-thirds of the way to the colors of the American flag. If only the president had opted for a white ale. )

From “White House ‘Beer Summit’ Becomes Something of a Brouhaha”:

The problem is that all three beers are products of foreign companies. Red Stripe is brewed by London-based Diageo PLC [[DEO]]. Blue Moon is sold by a joint venture in which London-based SABMiller has a majority stake.

And Bud Light? It is made by Anheuser-Busch — which is now known as Anseuser-Busch InBev NV after getting bought last year by the giant Belgian-Brazilian company.

Now American breweries are up in arms. “We would hope they would pick a family-owned, American beer to lubricate the conversation,” said a spokesman for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., a California-based beer maker, in the WSJ article. Jim Koch, whose Boston Beer Co. [[SAM]] makes Samuel Adams, lamented “the foreign domination of something so basic and important to our culture as beer.”

So, now Obama has something else on his plate (in his glass?) to distract from the myriad problems at hand. Many would need a beer to handle this much stress.