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President promises to release beer recipe; FOIA filers react

Pete Souza / White House Photo

A bottle of White House Honey Ale beer is in the Green Room of the White House, Feb. 6, 2011.

The brewhaha over White House beer is nearly over. President Obama has promised to release the recipe to his homebrew.

“It will be out soon! I can tell you from first hand experience, it is tasty,” he said during an online chat late Wednesday afternoon.

Obama selected 10 questions during his surprise appearance on Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” forum, in which any registered site user can submit queries.  He addressed campaign finance laws, the nation’s manned space program, Internet freedom, and his decision to send additional American troops to Afghanistan.

But let’s go back to the beer, because that’s what may have led Obama to Reddit in the first place. It was Reddit user Brody Burks who recently submitted a recipe request for the White House beer through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Burks, the assistant district attorney in Limestone County, Texas, said he plans to head straight to the nearest home brew store – about two hours away in Austin – to buy up the ingredients listed on the recipe once they are released. Burks said he asked for the recipe partly out of self-interest – he’s a homebrewer about to bottle his seventh five-gallon batch – and partly out of entertainment. He said the nation could use some fun during a tense presidential campaign battle.

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“This is an election cycle that has been dominated by all sorts of pointing and screaming, and here is this fun story," he said. "Really, what could be more all American than beer, especially beer that comes out of the White House?”

Attorney Scott Talkov of Riverside, Calif., also filed a FOIA request seeking the beer recipe around the same time as Burks. 

“He says it’s tasty and I want to judge for myself, and before November so I can make sure I’m making the right choice for president,” he joked.  Talkov serves as the president of the Riverside County Young Democrats.

“I want to know, which candidate would I want to have a brew with? Whose beer would I want to taste?” he said. “I think I would not want to taste Mitt Romney’s. I think it would be an O’Doul’s."

O'Doul's is a non-alcoholic beer; Romney is a Mormon, a religion which does not allow drinking.

The presidential brew garnered the attention of serious beer lovers across the nation shortly after Obama revealed earlier this month that he stocks his campaign bus with White House-made beer. His collection includes honey ale, honey blonde and honey porter – all made using honey from the South Lawn beehive belonging to first lady Michelle Obama.

It’s not clear whether the president will release the recipe to the entire collection, or just the honey ale recipe that is the subject of a petition seeking its release. The petition sits on the White House’s “We the People” website and requires 25,000 signatures by Sept. 17 for a formal response.

White House press secretary Jay Carney had promised in a tweet last week that the recipe would become public if the petition meets its threshold. However, the petition still needed 14,000 more signatures at last check.  

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