Saturday, June 26, 2010

Obama Settles World Cup Beer Bet With Cameron, Anoints Goose Island's 312 As Best In America

President gives drinking tips to UK Prime Minister as craft beers are swapped...
It's been a big week in foodie diplomacy for President Obama. On Thursday, he took Russian Federation President Dmitri Medvedev to Ray's Hell Burger for lunch. Today, during a special meeting on the sidelines of the Toronto G20 Summit, President Obama swapped bottles of beer with British Prime Minister David Cameron, settling the World Cup bet the two made when USA met England on June 12. The game ended in a draw, 1-1.

"Since it ended in a tie, we're exchanging, by paying off our debts at the same time," President Obama said. "This is Goose Island 312 beer from my hometown of Chicago."

President Obama reminded reporters that the bet was made by phone the morning of the game, and staked "the best lager against the best beer in America on an American win over England." He's now assured a big boost in sales for the Windy City craft brewery, as the maker of America's Best Beer.

Mr. Cameron handed over a bottle of UK ale Hobgoblin, as President Obama announced that he'd given the Prime Minister a tip on how to drink beer like an American.

"I advised him that in America, we drink our beer cold, he has to put it in a refrigerator before he drinks it, but I think that he will find it outstanding," President Obama said.

The beer exchange was the first meeting for President Obama and PM Cameron since he won a hotly contested election last month. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and General Jim Jones looked on as the President and Prime Minister took a break from discussing Afghanistan to focus on beer.

Goose Island is owned by father-son team John and Greg Hall, and opened in 1988. They call 312 an 'Urban Wheat Ale,' and describe it as "densely populated with flavor...the spicy aroma of Cascade hops is followed by a crisp, fruity ale flavor delivered in a smooth, creamy body."

Hobgoblin is also made by a craft brewery, Wychwood, in the town of Witney, in the Oxfordshre Cotswolds. It's the flagship beer from the brewery, as well as the fifth bestselling bottled ale in the UK. Wychwood describes Hobgoblin as "a wonderfully well balanced blend of smooth, rich & satisfying flavours from chocolate & crystal malts combined with a crisp, refreshing bitterness from Styrian, Goldings and Fuggles hops."

Mr. Cameron will be at the White House on July 20, but President Obama couldn't wait that long to settle the bet. As the beer bash concluded, President Obama announced that America's special relationship with the United Kingdom remains intact.

"I want to say that all of us in the United States deeply value the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom," President Obama said. "And we've been very impressed with the leadership that David Cameron has shown thus far. We're confident that that special relationship will only grow stronger in the month and years to come." (Cameron examines his 312, above)

More Presidential World Cup action today...
Ghana and the US were competing in the World Cup during the beer exchange, and the White House announced that President Obama and Ghana's President John Atta Mills "have agreed that when they next meet they will exchange team jerseys in the spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship."

Pool noted that the President was observed sitting in front of a large flat screen TV after the South Korean bilat, watching the US vs. Ghana game, when the score was 2-1 at the 10th minute of extended time. Rahm Emanuel entered the room and asked the President "How much time is left?"

"Five minutes" the President answered, and added "it's nerve-wracking." Pool was escorted out of the room before the game ended, so did not see the Presidential reaction to Ghana's win.

It should be noted that the streets of Toronto were on fire as the beer bash was going on, with a riot downtown, courtesy of about 5,000 protesters (above). Storefront windows were smashed, and police cars set ablaze during the violence, which was actually smaller than G20 protests in previous years. Security was provided by an estimated 19,000 law enforcement officers drawn from all regions of Canada, according to AP, at a cost of $900 million US.

Photos: Top photo by Pete Souza/White House; Cameron and clinking via Getty; riot photo from G20/Press Canada pool