Last September, the White House bowed to public pressure—including a "We the People" petition and even a Freedom of Information Act request—and released its in-house beer recipe.
Didn't know the president was brewing beer? Technically, he's not. He's way too busy solving the deficit, passing health care reform, ending wars, repealing restrictions on gays and lesbians and generally kicking ass. Plus, he's the president—he's got people who can brew for him.
But he has had a hand in the brews. In 2011, he bought a home brewing kit (with his own money) and told the White House chefs to experiment. They came up with two beers, a Honey Ale and a Honey Porter. And on Sept. 1, Sam Kass, White House assistant chef, senior policy adviser for the healthy food initiatives and unofficial brewmaster, released the recipe on the White House blog. That's when we jumped into action.
After a few phone calls the enthusiastic brewers at GoodLife Brewing Company were gathering the supplies needed to create the White House Honey Porter. Because we know you love Obama and good beer as much as we do, we're throwing a party on Friday, March 8, to celebrate the 44th president's second term, complete with local rockstar band Wilderness.
Last week, we sat down with Jeff Schauland, GoodLife's lead specialty brewer, to taste the beer and find out how the brewing process went.
Did the White House chefs know what they were doing?
"Absolutely," said Schauland, who noted that he did take some "artistic liberties" during the brewing process. Schauland used all grains rather than the 3.3 pounds of malt extract called for in the original recipe. He also opted for GoodLife's house yeast rather than the prescribed Nottingham yeast, a packaged yeast that Schauland said is quite dry and can yield uncertain results.
Additionally, the White House recipe called for 1-pound of White House honey—harvested from the beehive on the White House's South Lawn. Schauland obviously had to make do with other honey, which was a first for him.
"I'd never brewed with honey so it actually made me do some research, which was good," Schauland said.
Schauland's homework paid off. When we tried the beer, which was lighter in color than most nearly black porters, it was obvious Schauland had nailed it. He smiled after our first taste, clearly pleased with the result.
And he should be. The Honey Porter, was not, despite the name, overly sweet. It tasted more like a brown ale. Schauland noted that while such older-style beers may be out of fashion, Crux Fermentation Project made a similar brown and it was great. Schauland pegged this beer at 30-ish IBUs and said it was between 6 and 6.5 percent.
GoodLife isn't the first brewery to follow the presidential recipe.
In October, The New York Times revealed the work of Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, who had just released a batch of White House Honey Ale. It was met with high praise. Eric Asimov, The Times' wine critic, wrote, "It was good. Very good."
Since the GoodLife version has yet to be carbonated, I'll reserve judgment. But what I tried was very nice—light, a little malty with touches of chocolate and even citrus.
As the brewery expands—it'll begin canning beers in early March—dabbling will become Schauland's primary job. GoodLife already has plans for a Red Ale, and Schauland said a sour, his current favorite, may soon follow. Schauland is hoping that in the near future, the westside brewery will be able to support a rotating tap of experimental brews.
As we look forward to this change, we can raise a glass to both Central Oregon beer culture and our favorite president since Billy Clint. What better way to celebrate Obama's second term than with his own brew?
It's a real consensus-builder.
White House Beer Party with Wilderness
$3 pints! 5 p.m. Friday, March 8
GoodLife Brewing Co., 70 SW Century Dr.