By Sam Kass, White House Assistant Chef and the Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives
With public excitement about White House beer fermenting such a buzz, we decided we better hop right to it. Inspired by home brewers from across the country, last year President Obama bought a home brewing kit for the kitchen. After the few first drafts we landed on some great recipes that came from a local brew shop. We received some tips from a couple of home brewers who work in the White House who helped us amend it and make it our own. To be honest, we were surprised that the beer turned out so well since none of us had brewed beer before.
As far as we know the White House Honey Brown Ale is the first alcohol brewed or distilled on the White House grounds. George Washington brewed beer and distilled whiskey at Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson made wine but there's no evidence that any beer has been brewed in the White House. (Although we do know there was some drinking during prohibition…)
Since our first batch of White House Honey Brown Ale, we've added the Honey Porter and have gone even further to add a Honey Blonde this past summer. Like many home brewers who add secret ingredients to make their beer unique, all of our brews have honey that we tapped from the first ever bee-hive on the South Lawn. The honey gives the beer a rich aroma and a nice finish but it doesn't sweeten it.
If you want a behind the scenes look at our home-brewing process, this video offers some proof.
White House Honey PorterIngredients
- 2 (3.3 lb) cans light unhopped malt extract
- 3/4 lb Munich Malt (cracked)
- 1 lb crystal 20 malt (cracked)
- 6 oz black malt (cracked)
- 3 oz chocolate malt (cracked)
- 1 lb White House Honey
- 10 HBUs bittering hops
- 1/2 oz Hallertaur Aroma hops
- 1 pkg Nottingham dry yeast
- 3/4 cup corn sugar for bottling
- In a 6 qt pot, add grains to 2.25 qts of 168˚ water. Mix well to bring temp down to 155˚. Steep on stovetop at 155˚ for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 2 gallons of water to 165˚ in a 12 qt pot. Place strainer over, then pour and spoon all the grains and liquid in. Rinse with 2 gallons of 165˚ water. Let liquid drain through. Discard the grains and bring the liquid to a boil. Set aside.
- Add the 2 cans of malt extract and honey into the pot. Stir well.
- Boil for an hour. Add half of the bittering hops at the 15 minute mark, the other half at 30 minute mark, then the aroma hops at the 60 minute mark.
- Set aside and let stand for 15 minutes.
- Place 2 gallons of chilled water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons if necessary. Place into an ice bath to cool down to 70-80˚.
- Activate dry yeast in 1 cup of sterilized water at 75-90˚ for fifteen minutes. Pitch yeast into the fermenter. Fill airlock halfway with water. Ferment at room temp (64-68˚) for 3-4 days.
- Siphon over to a secondary glass fermenter for another 4-7 days.
- To bottle, make a priming syrup on the stove with 1 cup sterile water and 3/4 cup priming sugar, bring to a boil for five minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 1-2 weeks at 75˚.
White House Honey AleIngredients
- 2 (3.3 lb) cans light malt extract
- 1 lb light dried malt extract
- 12 oz crushed amber crystal malt
- 8 oz Bisquit Malt
- 1 lb White House Honey
- 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
- 1 1/2 oz Fuggles Hop pellets
- 2 tsp gypsum
- 1 pkg Windsor dry ale yeast
- 3/4 cup corn sugar for priming
- In an 12 qt pot, steep the grains in a hop bag in 1 1/2 gallons of sterile water at 155 degrees for half an hour. Remove the grains.
- Add the 2 cans of the malt extract and the dried extract and bring to a boil.
- For the first flavoring, add the 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings and 2 tsp of gypsum. Boil for 45 minutes.
- For the second flavoring, add the 1/2 oz Fuggles hop pellets at the last minute of the boil.
- Add the honey and boil for 5 more minutes.
- Add 2 gallons chilled sterile water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons. There is no need to strain.
- Pitch yeast when wort temperature is between 70-80˚. Fill airlock halfway with water.
- Ferment at 68-72˚ for about seven days.
- Rack to a secondary fermenter after five days and ferment for 14 more days.
- To bottle, dissolve the corn sugar into 2 pints of boiling water for 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 2 to 3 weeks at 75˚.