Barack and David practice beer diplomacy

July 20, 2010

The White House was once again the setting for beer diplomacy.

This time to demonstrate the chumminess of the new British Prime Minister David Cameron and the not-so-new American President Barack Obama and reaffirm that “special relationship” enjoyed by the two allies. (The two leaders are also both left-handed, so plenty in common). BRITAIN-USA/

They discussed the benefits of cold beer versus warm ale and Cameron showed sporting enthusiasm for the “312″ ale that Obama introduced him to.

“We have just concluded some excellent discussions, including whether the beers from our hometowns that we exchanged are best served warm or cold,” Obama said. “My understanding is that the prime minister enjoyed our 312 beer and we may send him some more.”

Our understanding is that Cameron gave Obama bitter ale called Hobgoblin from a brewery near his Oxfordshire parliamentary constitutency.

Being from the Northeast, some of us had never heard of “312″ ale, whose name is the area code for Chicago from where Obama hails. So we Googled it, and found this description  of the “urban wheat ale” : “Densely populated with flavor, 312’s spicy aroma of Cascade hops is followed by a crisp, fruity ale flavor delivered in a smooth, creamy body. This gives 312 a balance of flavor and refreshment that never fills you up and won’t let you down.”

Closer to home, I asked a couple of people who claimed to have actually tasted the lager and one of them described it as “nice, fairly hoppy,” while the other found it to be “fairly unremarkable with a slight metallic taste.”

One other observer wondered “is it a type of beer or is it the alcohol content?” G8/

The 312 ale’s website says the preferred serving temperature is 40 degrees, which seems inbetween ice-cold and warm — so perhaps a U.S.-U.K. compromise?

This was much more light-hearted beer diplomacy than the first time in the Obama White House almost exactly a year go when  the president attempted to calm a storm over the arrest of a black professor at his home in Cambridge by a white police officer.

The tactic seems to have worked well so far…

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama and Cameron speak to reporters at White House), Reuters/Jason Reed (Obama holds bottle of Goose Island 312 beer at G20 summit on June 26)

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