Under pressure from beer enthusiasts armed with requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for recipes, the Obama administration agreed to release the recipes for beer brewed at the White House. The process, overseen by White House assistant chef Sam Kass, takes place in the White House kitchen with materials provided by the Chief Executive. Given the widespread interest among Americans in brewing beer as a hobby, Kass said in a White House video that President Obama wanted to "join the American people in that time-honored tradition and brew some of our own beer."
Sous chef Tafari Campbell says in the video that the White House kitchen sought assistance from a Navy cook and the White House beekeeper to find the right recipe and materials. "We adapted the recipe," said Campbell, "but really made it our own."
Kass noted in a White House video that both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson produced alcoholic libations in their day. Washington brewed whiskey, while Jefferson's taste ran to wine. In fact, land once owned by Jefferson near Barboursville VA is currently occupied by vineyards. The two former presidents were in the business of selling their products as entrepreneurs and slave-owners, while President Obama distributes Kass's product at the White House.
Chef Kass said that he brews the beer in his spare time, after overseeing meals for President Obama's family and for the many White House functions for heads of state, politicians and political donors. Honey ale and honey porter are the two brews produced at the White House, which rests in a deep basement before being bottled and refrigerated.
President Obama has made much of beer, having once held a 'beer summit' for Massachusetts police officer James Crowley and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in 2009. Professor Gates and Crowley had had a confrontation that reached national proportions, which President Obama sought to ameliorate by sharing beer with the pair and Vice President Joseph Biden. President Obama also recently shared a brew with Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer, who came to the White House to be recognized for his heroism. At this time, it was not known whether they toasted with a White House beer.