Beer Geek

New kits let you brew beer the White House way

Sep. 6, 2012 at 12:09 PM ET

Northern Brewer /
Make the White House's Honey Ale and Porter at home with help from Northern Brewer's homebrew kit.

Here’s proof that the world now moves at the speed of the Internet: Just days after the White House released the recipes for its home-brewed Honey Ale and Honey Porter, Internet home brew supply shop Northern Brewer has shown good hustle by launching two kits containing all the ingredients needed to recreate the White House home brews.

“We had customers and fans asking us almost immediately upon release of the recipes when we would have beer kits created for them,” said Chip Walton, a member of Northern Brewer’s marketing team. “Politics aside, I think people are interested in brewing the same beer the president is drinking at home and offering as gifts on his travels.” The kits have been selling steadily since they were released on Tuesday.

You'll find everything needed to brew each beer inside the packages. There are fermentable malt extracts, specialty grains to be steeped in the brew to give it extra character, a pound of honey, two or three varieties of hop pellets, yeast, and priming sugar to prepare the beer for bottling. The kits also come with instructions that run through the whole process, from smacking the yeast pack a few days before brew day to lifting a glass of White House beer about six weeks later.

And it sounds like these beers are worth the wait. Northern Brewer describes the Honey Ale as “built on a big foundation of malt with strong tones of biscuit and toffee,” adding that it “plays up the fruity, caramel aspects of English malt and yeast.”  Mmmm… it sounds sweet, fruity and delicious.

The Porter sounds good as well. “More than just simply black and roasty,” the description reads, “this porter builds consensus with generous applications of sweet caramel and toasty Munich malts, while moderate bitterness and a pound of honey lets us all find common ground.” Double mmmm.

Like many fledgling home brewers, the White House follows the extract brewing method, which uses pre-made malt syrups and powders, so that’s what you’ll find in this first wave of kits. But fear not, hardcore home brewers: Northern Brewer is taking pains to create all-grain versions of the recipes for folks who prefer to mash their own.

“Since the White House brews were both extract recipes, we used brewing software and our firsthand knowledge of ingredients to make sure they'll still be in line with the color, bitterness and overall profile of the originals,” said Michael Dawson, a senior product developer at Northern Brewer.

So is all this buzz about the White House brews pulling new people into the hobby?

“It certainly seems possible that this could generate a new wave of home brewing,” says Dawson. “There are a lot of people on the fence about home brewing, and this might be what gives them the nudge to go ahead and try it out.”

Newbie or old pro, it seems like people who brew their own beer are happy to see their pastime in the spotlight.

“Home brewers are very excited about the release of the recipes and the ability to brew it themselves,” Dawson says, “but even more excited by the national stage that the White House's home brew is giving our hobby.” His colleague Chip Walton adds, “I think home brewers just want to be a part of this moment in history.”

You can find these beer kits on Northern Brewer’s website — they run about $40 apiece — and other retailers have started offering their own versions as well. It’s important to note that if you’re new to brewing and don’t own any equipment (which isn’t included in the kits), you’ll have to shell out around $100 to $150 in gear for your first batch. If you catch the brewing bug, it’s a sound investment that will pay you back after just a handful of brews.

Jim Galligan is co-founder of the Beer and Whiskey Brothers blog, where he and his brother Don cover the ever-evolving world of craft beer and distilled spirits. Follow him on Twitter. 

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