Jul 30 2009

Beergate 2009 – Choosing the Right Beer

And so Beergate is upon us.  And why should be care is a natural question.

Much has been made about the invitation from President Obama to Henry Louis Gates and Sgt. James Crowley to meet over a beer.  And just as much hype has been heaped upon the beer choices that these men have made.

The choices for this historical summit are:

President Obama: Bud Light

Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. : Red Stripe

Sgt. James Crowley: Blue Moon.

As a craft beer fan, none of these beers stand out stand out as particularly good beers.  Well, in the case of Red Stripe and BL, the choices are downright bad.

But what is important about beer for this conversation?  Beer is still considered the beverage of the common man.  Metaphorically, we still call blue-collar workers “Joe Six-Pack”, although the Republicans may have ruined that for all of us. 

Beer is still the drink you reach for at a backyard barbeque, or at a baseball game.  Wine and liquor are a bit more formal.  You break those out for special occasions or structured events.  Beer, in this context, is about three men sitting around a table and working through differences.  Stepping beyond ceremony and just hashing things out like neighbors.

I think beer is the perfect choice for this situation and the environment that Obama is trying to create.  Obliviously, he could have chosen a much better beer than Bud Light, and frankly it behooves his images to move up to a Dale’s Pale (in a red, white and blue can no less) or a Sam Adams (brewer AND patriot) beer.

During the presidential race between Bush and Gore, polls pointed to George W. as the candidate that the typical voter would like to have a beer with.  I imagine that Bush would pick something as disappointing as an AB product, too.  I know they are human beings, but I think we all have to right to expect a little more of our presidents.  Certainly one of Obama’s advisors could have suggested something from his hometown of Chicago.  Maybe a nice beer from Goose Island.

I think Obama is a smart guy, but he isn’t the common man.  And, to be clear, I don’t really want him to be.   

It is common is for candidates running for office to be sorted into the “wine track” for upscale voters and a “beer track” for the blue-collar voters.  I’m naïve enough to hope that there is a common space between those two tracks that lends itself to some great craft beer. 

You want someone smarter than yourself to run the country, but the wine track guy is not someone I would immediately understand.  Seeing Obama at a White Sox game drinking something that actually deserves to be savored would actually speak to me.