The White House Beer: Is It Gluten-Free?

So..is the White House beer gluten free?

The Answer: No.

But it does use an ancient, gluten-free ingredient: honey.

For those who haven’t heard, a few months ago, President Obama decided to purchase a home brewing kit to see what all the fuss was about. Over the next few months, the White House staff began brewing beer. After a chat on Reddit and an official petition under the White House’s We the People website, the President declared that the White House would share the recipe online. You can find the recipes here.

As far as we can tell, it looks pretty good. Two beers were brewed by the White House kitchen staff: a lighter “White House Honey Ale” and a darker “White House Honey Porter.” Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn brewery, commented on the recipe in a report with the New York Times. Though few outside the White House have had the chance to taste the beer, Oliver speculated it would taste “Light, crisp and dry, with some bready flavors from the malts, floral notes from the honey, and fruitiness from the British ale yeast…Altogether pleasant, great with seafood and salads, goat cheeses, or hanging out in the sunshine in the Rose Garden.’’

Politics aside, we’re think it’s pretty great that President Obama decided to brew in the White House (even if the kitchen staff is handling the actual brewing). According to the White House historians, this is the first time that anyone has brewed on the grounds. History in the making! We also think it’s great that the beers use honey, a naturally gluten-free ingredient, as a primary part of the recipe, even though some politicians have been a bit critical of the use of honey.

The honey comes from the White House apiary, which means it has a unique flavor from the local flowers from which the bees collected the nectar. The sugars from the honey are fermented out during the brewing process, which means it doesn’t add any sweetness, but instead adds flavor and increases the alcohol content (both recipes would yield around 7% alcohol by volume). Honey has actually be used for thousands of years to make mead, or honey wine, that’s one of the world’s oldest fermented beverages.

Well, even though the White House’s beer isn’t gluten free, it does present the opportunity to learn more about the gluten-free ingredient, honey. We’ll dive in deeper in our next post “Get to Know a Gluten-free Ingredient: Honey.”