When I heard President Obama was going to hold a Beer Summit, my first thought, naturally, was: "I wonder what the Women's Christian Temperance Movement will think of this."
So I poked around the Web just for kicks. I expected any information regarding the group that ushered in prohibition to be strictly historical in nature. To my surprise, the Temperance gals are still very much active, and while these days they are more vocal in opposition of gay rights than prohibition, it turns out they failed to see the upside of anyone sitting down to drink a beer of any type.
Of the summit, the ladies said, "Alcohol and conflicts are not a good combination." From that statement we must assume the ladies believed the president, professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Officer James Crowley incapable of moderate consumption. Perhaps they envisioned keg stands and funnel guzzling. (In the ladies' defense, Joe Biden was present, so their fears were not unjustified.)
But enough about a group that uses the word "temperance" in its name, even though they seem to think everyone else is incapable of it. All the media and the people of America seem to care about is what the choice of beer says about each participant.
Does a person's beer of choice give clues about who they might be as a person? Can you spot a racist by the choice of his suds or a race-baiter by the kinds of hops he prefers? The answer is, of course, no. Still, that does not mean you can't infer a great many things about a person by reading the label of the beer in their hand.
Take Obama's choice, for example: Bud Light. It is the most popular beer in America, outselling all other beers by a quadrillion to one, or thereabouts. What does Obama's ubiquitous selection tell us? First, we have to look at Obama's beer history. During the campaign Obama was photographed drinking craft beer at brewpubs and seemingly enjoying craft beer as much as elites are said to enjoy arugula. Several breweries went so far as to name hand-crafted limited release beer in Obama's honor.
So what does Obama's ordering a Bud Light say about him? It says he doesn't care about the craft beer vote for one, because boy, are craft brewers pissed at Obama for rejecting the hand-crafted suds in favor of a brew owned by Belgian InBev. From this, we can deduce either that Obama was faking when he seemed to be enjoying all those brewpub suds, or that he was pandering when he ordered Bud Light. Or, perhaps worst of all, we can infer Obama is capable of enjoying any beer on its merits, from a hoppy brewpub India Pale Ale to a frosty lawnmower lager! If that is the case, and Obama is able to get the perpetually warring craft brewers and mega brewers to look at one another with toleration and understanding — well, it's not exactly healing the racial divide, but it is not a bad day's work.
To quickly sum up the other choices: Crowley chose Blue Moon, a Belgian Wit-style ale brewed by MolsonCoors. This trendy brew actually possesses a modicum of flavor and a decently full body, which shows Crowley as a man willing to step beyond the comfort zone that 70 percent of Americans fear to venture from.
Gates chose Red Stripe, then switched to Sam Adams Light when some complained that no wholly American-owned breweries would be present. In switching, Gates got what I believe to be a better tasting brew, and showed he is capable of compromise.
— Joey Redner is a beer enthusiast and the owner of Cigar City Brewing in Tampa.