UPDATE, March 1, 2011: Obamas' chefs are the first to homebrew at White House: READ HERE
UPDATE, Sept. 1, 2012: White House releases beer recipes
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have joined the homebrewing trend that's swept the US. In a special turn of events in the history of White House food creations, one of the White House chefs brewed White House Honey Ale for this evening's Super Bowl party, a White House aide exclusively tipped Obama Foodorama. The unique brew was served to guests for the first time ever as the President and Mrs. Obama welcomed about 200 people for their annual party, to watch as the Packers trumped the Steelers. (Above: A detail of the bottle label, created by the White House)
The President, First Lady, and their guests gathered at about 6:30 PM for the party. Singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, now a judge for "American Idol," and her husband, singer Marc Anthony, as well as Cabinet Secretaries, Members of Congress and other politicos joined the First Fans. The homebrew accompanied a menu of regional foods inspired by Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, including Brats, Deep Dish Pizza, Buffalo Wings, potato dishes, and ice cream.
The White House Honey Ale that was served was made with one pound of honey from this year's 160-pound harvest from the White House Bee Hive. It is the first-ever apiary on the White House campus, and sits beside Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden on the South lawn. Eighty 12-ounce bottles of beer were created, and all were consumed, according to the White House aide. The First Couple paid for their own brewing equipment, the aide noted, so there's no impact on the national debt. (Above, the 12-ounce bottle of homebrewed beer; the label reads "Brewed with White House Honey")
The menu was what the aide dubbed traditional Super Bowl foods. There was no guest chef on hand to do the cooking, as has been the case at the President and Mrs. Obama's other events. Exactly which chef brewed the special beer is still a secret.
The 2011 Presidential Super Bowl Menu
*Deep Dish Pizza
*German Potato Salad
*Snyders Potato Chips and Pretzels
*Chips and Dips
Suds from Packer country were also on offer: The White House ordered three cases of craft beer from Hinterland Brewery of Green Bay, Wisconsin right after the NFC championship, the brewmasters announced this week. Pale Ale, Hinterland's signature beer; Amber Ale, which has a caramel flavor; and Luna Stout, which is bold, rich, and creamy, will be quaffed. Pennsylvania was represented by Pottsville's Yuengling beer, which comes from the oldest brewery in America, the aide said.
On the Presidential guest list...
Lopez and Anthony represent the sports industry: They are co-owners of the Miami Dolphins. This week, Lopez gushed to "Extra" about her invite. I can't believe it!" Lopez said about attending the Presidential Super Bowl Party. "I don't know, maybe that's why I don't want to talk about it. I don't even feel like it's real!" (Above: Lopez and Anthony with the Obamas on Inauguration Night)
In addition to being with the Obamas at inaugural festivities, Lopez has been at the White House before; the First family danced onstage with her when she performed at the Fiesta Latina in 2009.
Cabinet Secretaries Arne Duncan, Janet Napolitano, Ron Kirk, Ray Lahood and Attorney General Eric Holder were invited. Pennsylvania was represented by Senators: Bob Casey and Pat Toomey scored invites. Wisconsin threw in a congressman: Rep. Reid Ribble. Wisconsin Mayors will also got to cheer in the White House: Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, and Dave Cieslewicz of Madison were waving the Green Bay flag. Mayor Byron Brown represented Buffalo, NY. Reps. Rafael Anchia and Rep. Trey Martine of Texas were also invited; the Super Bowl was held in their home state.
Both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are crucial swing states, and Campaign 2012 has already started, so The Bears Fan In Chief declined to name who he's rooting for. But as Chicagoans, the Obamas do not necessarily have much love for Cheeseheads. Still, during a visit to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, two weeks ago, President Obama wished Packers fans good luck, "in the spirit of sportsmanship." The President rooted for the Steelers last time they were in the Super Bowl, and during a visit to Pennsylvania this week, he also wished Steelers fans good luck.
"I've got some love for the Steelers," President Obama told a cheering crowd in State College, Pennsylvania, noting that Steelers owner Dan Rooney was his choice for Ambassador to Ireland.
No East End beer...despite a lobbying campaign
A big social media campaign to get Steelers beer into the White House for the Super Bowl party ended on a flat note. Microbeer maven Scott Smith of Pittsburgh's East End Brewing Company wanted his black and gold beers on tap at the White House, too, and created a special Facebook page, a Twitter campaign, and the photo of the President, at left, holding an east End brew. Smith even appealed to Sen. Casey to be a beer wallah and tote some growlers to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. No such luck.
Sen. Casey's staffers sent Smith an e-mail citing security concerns for Casey's lack of willingness to challenge Secret Service agents with some liquid inspections at the front gate of the White House.
"Our staff was able to forward your email to the WH, but apparently there is a tough protocol when it comes to food and beverage at the WH. In fact, in 09’, when the senator brought smiley cookies to the WH to watch the game, they were confiscated!," wrote a hard-working Casey aide.
"I can tell you that typically, the menu for the Super bowl party reflects local food and drink from the cities of each of the contending teams so while they may not have reached out to Pennsylvania breweries, you can be assured that they will serve something representative of Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, the menu is not made public prior to the party."
The White House generally ignores specific foodie appeals, though there is a policy of highlighting purveyors who have been invited to supply food to the White House. For instance, at the State Dinner with China, the Chef's Garden of Ohio, got a shout-out on the menu. The family-owned operation focuses on making healthy fresh foods available and affordable for Cincinnati residents, and provided the White House kitchen with microgreens and potatoes for the dinner honoring China's President Hu Jintao. But last Fall, there was a collective large, deaf White House ear turned to 7-Eleven's generous offer to install Slurpee machines in the White House, for the imaginary bipartisan "Slurpee Summit." No thanks and no comment was the response to 7-Eleven's campaign, which included driving Slurpee trucks across the US and doling out free "bipartisan" Slurpees.
*Beer photos by Pete Souza/White House; second via Getty; third by Doug Derda for East End.