Posted by Eddie Gehman Kohan at obamafoodorama.blogspot.com
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have joined the home brewing beer trend that’s swept the US, and will be serving a very special White House brew tonight when they welcome guests for the annual Super Bowl party, to watch as the Packers take on the Steelers.
In a special turn of events in the history of White House food creations, one of the White House chefs has brewed White House Honey Ale, a White House aide exclusively tipped ObFo. It uses one pound of honey from this year’s 160-pound harvest of honey from the White House Bee Hive, which sits beside Mrs. Obama’s South Lawn Kitchen Garden.
The President, First Lady, and their guests will be sampling the special suds for the first time this evening. And the Obamas paid for the micro-brewing equipment, the aide noted, so there’s no impact on the national debt.
Suds from Packer country will also be 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 will be represented by Pottsville’s Yuengling beer, which comes from the oldest brewery in America, the aide said.
The menu will be “Superbowl foods,” according to the White House, and released later today. There’s no guest chef onhand, however.
The party kicks off at 6:30 PM tonight. Singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, now a judge for “American Idol,” and her husband, singer Marc Anthony, both scored invites. The couple are co-owners of the Miami Dolphins, and this week Lopez gushed to “Extra” about her invite. (At left: Lopez and Anthony with the Obamas on Inauguration night)
“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!”
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 2009 Fiesta Latina.
Cabinet Secretaries Arne Duncan, Janet Napolitano, Ron Kirk, Ray Lahood and Attorney General Eric Holder have all been invited, too. Pennsylvania is represented by Senators: Bob Casey and Pat Toomey scored invites. Wisconsin throws in a congressman: Rep. Reid Ribble. Wisconsin Mayors will also get to cheer in the White House: Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, and Dave Cieslewicz of Madison will be waving the Greenbay flag. Mayor Byron Brown representing Buffalo, NY is invited, as are Reps. Rafael Anchia and Rep. Trey Martine of Texas. The Super Bowl is being 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 has 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, the 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.
*Top photo by Pete Souza/White House; second via Getty; third by Doug Derda for East End