Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ale To The Chief: The White House Beer Recipe

Photo: White House/Pete Souza 
On a campaign stop, President Barack Obama told an Iowa man his bus was stocked with White House home-brewed beer and offered up a bottle.  This led to a number of questions for White House Spokesman, Jay Carney, about the details of the beer.  It was revealed that the White House chefs have been experimenting with home brewing for a while, using honey from the First Lady's beehives in the recipe.  The White House crafts two versions, a light and dark beer.  (See video.)

Soon a citizen filed a Freedom Of Information Act requesting the recipe, and 25,000 people signed a We The People petition, clamoring for the secrets behind the brew.  When word of the public's interest reached the President, he promised to share the recipe with everyone.  And as it turns out, making a tasty home brew is not too difficult.  So from the White House to you, here is how to do it:


2 (3.3 lb) cans light malt extract
1 lb light dried malt extract
12 oz crushed amber crystal malt
8 oz Biscuit Malt
1 lb White House Honey
1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
1 1/2 oz Fuggles Hop pellets
2 tsp gypsum 
1 pkg Windsor dry ale yeast
3/4 cup corn sugar for priming


1. In an 12 qt pot, steep the grains in a hop bag in 1 1/2 gallons of sterile water at 155 degrees for half an hour. 2.Remove the grains.
3. Add the 2 cans of the malt extract and the dried extract and bring to a boil. [The water is now called "wart."]
4. For the first flavoring, add the 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings and 2 tsp of gypsum. Boil for 45 minutes. [Hops gives beer its bitterness, flavor and aroma and keeps certain becteria from spoiling it.]
5. For the second flavoring, add the 1 1/2 oz Fuggles hop pellets at the last minute of the boil.
6. Add the honey and boil for 5 more minutes.
7. Add 2 gallons chilled sterile water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons. There is no need to strain.
8. Pitch yeast when wort temperature is between 70-80˚.
9. Fill airlock halfway with water.
10. Ferment at 68-72˚ for about seven days.
11. Rack to a secondary fermenter after five days and ferment for 14 more days.
12. To bottle, dissolve the corn sugar into 2 pints of boiling water for 15 minutes.  Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it.  14. Distribute priming sugar evenly.  Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 2 to 3 weeks at 75˚.

The green is hops.


2 (3.3 lb) cans light unhopped malt extract
3/4 lb Munich Malt (cracked)
1 lb crystal 20 malt (cracked)
6 oz black malt (cracked)
3 oz chocolate malt (cracked)
1 lb White House Honey
10 HBUs bittering hops
1/2 oz Hallertaur Aroma hops
1 pkg Nottingham dry yeast
3/4 cup corn sugar for bottling


1. In a 6 qt pot, add grains to 2.25 qts of 168˚ water.
2. Mix well to bring temp down to 155˚. Steep on stovetop at 155˚ for 45 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring 2 gallons of water to 165˚ in a 12 qt pot.
4. Place strainer over, then pour and spoon all the grains and liquid in.
5. Rinse with 2 gallons of 165˚ water.
6. Let liquid drain through.
7 Discard the grains and bring the liquid to a boil. Set aside.
8. Add the 2 cans of malt extract and honey into the pot. Stir well.
9. Boil for an hour.
10. Add half of the bittering hops at the 15 minute mark, the other half at 30 minute mark, then the aroma hops at the 60 minute mark.  Set aside and let stand for 15 minutes.
11. Place 2 gallons of chilled water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons if necessary. Place into an ice bath to cool down to 70-80˚.
12. Activate dry yeast in 1 cup of sterilized water at 75-90˚ for fifteen minutes. Pitch yeast into the fermenter. Fill airlock halfway with water. Ferment at room temp (64-68˚) for 3-4 days.
13. Siphon over to a secondary glass fermenter for another 4-7 days.
14. To bottle, make a priming syrup on the stove with 1 cup sterile water and 3/4 cup priming sugar, bring to a boil for five minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 1-2 weeks at 75˚.

Unlike the home distilling of hard liquor, or moonshine, which is still a felony, states allow you to brew your own beer.  You can buy a home brewing kit at your local spirits store.  Sometimes what begins as a hobby leads to a regional business.  Here are some delicious local brews to try:

If you have a favorite local beer, please add it under comments.  Me: I love Canadian (Moosehead) and Belgian (Blue Moon) beers too and hear there are excellent local Asian (Japanese and Indian) beers; and of course, I'm dying to try a White House Honey Ale.  So Mr. President, the next time you're in town on your campaign bus, pleassse stop by.


  1. As far as truly local beers, "LONG TRAIL" with a brewery and tasting room, in central Vermont, is really a good one. I have seen it for sale around New York, so I guess it has bigger aspirations.

    For semi-local, SHAEFER is still available in certain beverage stores, it's a nice light kind of beer. Also ROLLING ROCK is a good regional light beer.

    The Belgian beers are often fruit flavored, yummy. An excellent place to try them is "Ginger Man" on East 36 Street, just off 5th Avenue, which has a huge selection.

  2. David Copperfield's on York Avenue @74th in Manhattan has 30 craft beers on tap and over 100 varieties of bottled beers, plus good bar food: fish and chips, meatloaf and mashed potatoes and more.

  3. Newsday, a regional newspaper, had an article today (Sept 30) about micro breweries in the New York City area:

    mentioned in the article are:
    Chelsea Brewery
    Empire Brewery
    SingleCut Beersmith