Thursday, February 03, 2011

Pittsburgh Microbrewer Hopes Steeler Beer Will Be Served At White House Super Bowl Party

A social media campaign with thousands of followers has been created by East End Brewing Company to get black & gold beer into President Obama's annual football fete...
Lobbying the White House is a longstanding American tradition, so when Scott Smith, owner of Pittsburgh's artisan microbrewery East End Brewing Company, heard that cases of Hinterland Brewery's beer, from Green Bay, Wisconsin, home of the Packers, have been ordered for President Obama's White House Super Bowl party on Sunday, he swung into action. Smith is hoping that some of his award-winning craft beer, made in the heart of rival team Steelers country, can get the presidential seal of approval, too. And he'll personally deliver the gift.

Smith--helped by many fans from across the country--has created a special Facebook campaign page to get East End brews to the White House football fete, complete with a photo of the President holding an East End beer. Smith and his supporters have also been using Twitter to try to convince the White House to take up their offer.

"We've tweeted everyone from Senator Bob Casey to the press secretary," Smith told ObFo, including Pittsburgh City Council members, and anyone else they can think of who might help.

An East End tweet to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer read:

@PressSec @pfeiffer44 Can you help get some Pittsburgh Craft Beer to @Whiteouse for the #Superbowl?

"Everyone knows someone--that's the beauty of social media," Smith said, adding that "in the interest of beer bipartisanship, it's worth a shot."

"It would be a huge honor," Smith said.

President Obama rooted for the Steelers the last time they were in the Super Bowl, so East End beer is a no brainer, as far as Smith is concerned. But now that his beloved Bears are out of the mix, the President has said he won't take sides in the fight. The President was actually in State College, Pennsylvania today, and wished Steelers fans good luck.

"I've got some love for the Steelers," President Obama said, but declined to say if he'll be outright rooting for them on Sunday.

East End is perfect for the White House Super Bowl Party...
A big beer fan, President Obama quaffs it at basketball games, and has had two beery high points in his presidency: The Beer Summit in 2009, and last summer's World Cup bet with British Prime Minister David Cameron. The Britain-US game ended in a draw, and the two leaders exchanged beers during the Toronto G20 Summit. The President presented Cameron with Chicago's Goose Island 312 beer (above).

But East End's beer of course makes perfect sense for the White House celebration, Smith said.

"It's all black and gold beer," Smith said, referencing the Steeler's team colors.

East End's flagship beer, Big Hop IPA, is ideal for President Obama, Smith noted.

"Big Hop equals big hope," Smith said.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout is Smith's other choice for the Presidential Super Bowl fete, which has singer-actress Jennifer Lopez and her husband, singer Marc Anthony, showing up as guests, in addition to lawmakers, Administration officials, and Presidential Pals. The stout is made with American cocoa and tart cherries from Michigan, as well as American hops.

"Of course the Steelers are going to win, so the sweet taste of victory would come through," Smith said.

A small, green business...and the beer will be personally delivered
Smith, 44, has two kids and a wife, and he gave up an engineering career to start East End, now in its sixth year of operating. He pointed out that the brewery represents everything the President supports: They're a small business, with just two full time employees--Smith and a cohort--to produce about 2,000 labor-intensive barrels of beer a year.
And the brewery is hyper green and sustainable, too. (Above: Smith in his brewery)

Among other initiatives, the brewery is a zero solid waste facility, all packaging is reusable or recyclable, and the used hops are donated to a local community garden for compost. Which makes the brewery right in line with First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign, too.

"We produce about a kitchen-sized bag of garbage each month, and that's it," Smith said.

As to how the East End beer would get to the White House Super Bowl Party, given the complicated inter-state liquor laws?

"You're talking to the courier," Smith said. "I'd be driving it to DC. And it'd be a donation."

Time's a ticking for Smith's campaign, but he still has big hope. During the President's visit to Pennsylvania today, Smith's supporters were of course going at it on Twitter.

@coachdonovan1 tweeted:

@WillhiteHerald @BigTenMarkTV hopefully someone can send the POTUS back with some fresh @EastEndBrewing PA beer #EastEndtoDC

During Campaign Season, two different groups petitioned the White House to plant an edible garden on the White House grounds, and that particular foodie campaign turned out just swell...and it's now Mrs. Obama's globally famous South Lawn Kitchen Garden.

*Top and second images created by Doug Derda for the East End campaign; Beer bet photo by Pete Souza/White House; Smith photo courtesy of Smith.