Presidential campaigns have long been subject to what I refer to as the beer standard of politics. By the beer standard, the candidate whom most people would rather have a beer with is said to be the best choice for President. It is assumed that someone you'd want to share a beer with would be more likely to understand the trials and travails of the average Joe the Plumber. The beer standard also speaks greatly to likeability. George Bush consistently outperformed Al Gore and John Kerry in the beer standard, for example.
But in this election, already historic for many reasons, a new standard has emerged. The new litmus test is not just which candidate would you most like to have a beer with, but which candidate would you most like to name a beer after? If you're an Obama fan, you'll like this new standard because in the Getting Beer's Named After You standard of electability, John McCain is getting crushed. My exhaustive polling research, which consists almost entirely of some pretty creative googling, shows the current tally of candidate-inspired beer names at Obama 4 and McCain 1.
The Half Moon Bay Brewing Company in California held an "alection" and encouraged folks to vote early and vote often, by producing both a McCain and Obama Ale and waiting to see which beer outsold the other. The current "vote tally" stands at 6,170 22-ounce votes for Obama to John McCain's 1,729.
Obama isn't winning just on the sales side of things - he's also getting beers named after him at a rate that would make Stephen Colbert jealous. The Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn has brewed Hop Obama "in tribute to the inspiration that has been Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign." The folks at Sixpoint describe Hop Obama thusly: "In keeping with the Illinois senator's unifying theme, the 'Hop Obama' is an indefinable ale that doesn't adhere to traditional style guidelines. The 5.2 percent ABV creation contains five different kinds of European crystal malt and three different kinds of Pacific Northwest Hops. Combined with a Scottish yeast strain for fermentation, the result is a highly drinkable beer with a big malt background and an 'Obama' of hops that imparts floral and citrus notes with just a hint of spiciness."
Meanwhile the Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver has brewed a bock beer named Obamanator. John Hickenlooper, the owner of the Wynkoop brewery, is no stranger to politics. John is the mayor of Denver and describes Obamanator this way: "This beer is a unique creation of our brewmaster, available through election season. Deep golden in color, it contains the bready Vienna malt body of German Maibock lager combined with an American citrus dry-hopped note, making it a hybrid style of beer. Watch out for the strength of this one, which is masked by its smooth lager character."
Then there is the Senator Keg Beer brand, brewed in Obama's father's native Kenya by East African Breweries Limited, which is known locally simply as Obama beer. The beer was first brewed in 2004, but has exploded in popularity, helped in large part by the rise of Barack Obama as a world figure.
If all this partisan beer naming leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but you still hanker for presidential ale, consider Avery Brewing's Ale to the Chief. The folks at Avery offer us this preamble: "We the Brewers of Avery Brewing Company, in order to form a more perfect ale, require a new leadership that can liberate us from our quagmires in foreign lands; embrace environmentally sound energy alternatives to imported oil; heal our ailing health care system; free us from tyrannical debt and resurrect the collapsing dollar. We hereby pledge to provide him or her with an ample amount of our Presidential Pale Ale to support in the struggle for the aforementioned goals! Hail to the New Chief!
"Not an 'Imperial' pale ale, this is a democracy. It's Presidential! Take the all-American pale ale, a bipartisan blend of malt and hops, increase to both Avery Brewing standards, and then, of course, dry hop the result with that most quintessential of American hops, Cascades, and you get this ... Ale to the Chief. A brew worthy of the Oval Office! Brewed with Rocky Mountain water, malted barley, hops and yeast."
- Joey Redner is a Tampa resident and world beer traveler.