Obama convened the "beer summit" after calling both men last week in an attempt to defuse the tension after his comments that Crowley "acted stupidly" by arresting Gates in his own home drew sharp criticisms.
Gates was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct by Crowley, who, along with other officers had responded to a call of a possible burglarly at the professor's home. The charges were later dropped. Even if it was a staged political move, I was initially happy to hear the President chose beer to set a relaxing and disarming mood in hopes to resolve the conflict. Perhaps an attempt to cater his appearance to the everyday layperson throughout Middle America, Obama chose beer.
Specifically, Obama chose Bud Light. For Gates, it was a Red Stripe and Crowley drank a Blue Moon. They're all really session beers - the kind of beers drunk when friends sit down and drink several pints.
Of all the beers in the world, President Obama chose an American-style light lager with little flavor or substance that was recently bought out by a foreign mega-corporation. It’s like a tall glass of ice water and tasteless enough to appeal to the broadest audience. It’s so ubiquitous that requesting one is like making no choice at all. A stealth political move perhaps?
This would have been a prime opportunity for the President to embrace one of the 1,500 smaller craft breweries currently operating in the United States. "We would have hoped they would pick a family-owned, American beer to lubricate the conversation," said Sierra Nevada's Bill Manley.
Budweiser, a longtime St. Louis staple, is owned by Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch Inbev, and Blue Moon is a subsidiary of South African-Canadian owned Miller Molson-Coors. Together, they control over 90% of the beer market in the United States. Red Stripe is now owned by Diageo Holdings, which also owns Guinness, Captain Morgan, Smirnoff, Johnie Walker, among others.
Thus far, the Brewers Association has spent approximately $20,000 on lobbying efforts in 2009. Bud Lite has spent a whopping $1.6 million! Diageo has spent $1.1 million.
Blue Moon only looks like a microbrew. Blue Moon, brewed by the behomoth MillerCoors has spent $1.04 million this year alone on lobbying efforts. Coors doesn’t want to admit ownership of its boutique Belgian-style wheat ale, fearing that beer connoisseurs would slam the beer for its association with the global giant. This is the same, famous, right-wing family, which has a reputation for supporting the NRA.
Said Obama: "I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart. I am confident that has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode."
But is there something to be learned here? Something that we, as a consumer, can do to positively affect the craft beer industry and the ability to easily find the beers you want to drink?
Contact Your Congressional Representative and ask him or her to join the House Small Brewers Caucus. What is the House Small Brewers Caucus?
The U.S. House of Representatives Small Brewers Caucus was formed in 2007 by interested Members of Congress. Their mission is to gain a better understanding of all aspects of small, amateur and professional craft brewing, from business and regulatory issues to the brewing process and history of the small brewing community. The members of the Caucus are passionate about small brewers and craft beer. Co-chairs Representative Peter DeFazio (OR) and Representative Denny Rehberg (MT) have themselves been homebrewers and are avid beer enthusiasts.
Currently, only 49 Representatives belong to the Caucus. To put that in some perspective, 344 Congressional districts are home to at least one small brewery and we assume every one of the 435 districts is home to homebrewers and beer enthusiasts.
You can help by asking your U.S. Representative to join the Caucus. Help assure that you have the strongest voice possible speaking on your beer behalf in Congress.
You can find your representative at the House website. Just enter your zip code in the "Find Your Representative" search box in the upper left-hand corner and then click on your Representative's name on the page that displays to enter his/her personal web page.
Click Here For a Suggested letter for your U.S. Representative
Perhaps if Obama calls another “Beer Summit” in the future, next time they will choose beers from any multitude of micro-breweries in their home states. But hey, at least they used pint glasses.