White House Honey Ale

Posted: September 9, 2012 in Recipe
Tags: , , , ,

First RackingThe white house is helping small business owners. It’s not a new program for small business lending, more favorable tax laws or deductions or even government purchasing guarantees. I went to my local home brew store (http://www.texasbrewinginc.com) this weekend to pick up ingredients for a batch of White House Honey Ale. Hey, Election Day is coming up and depending on your politics you’ll either be celebrating or commiserating. Either way, beer makes it better.

Apparently I’m not alone in the idea since the recipes for President Obama’s White House brews were released earlier this month. When I mentioned what I was brewing, the store owner already had kits set up and ready to go; I didn’t get one because I brew in 3.5 gallon batches rather than the 5 gallon size the recipe is for. If you haven’t seen the recipe yet, it’s available on the White House blog: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/09/01/ale-chief-white-house-beer-recipe. If you do a search, Wikipedia will come up first and the recipe is posted there too. I’m not sure what that says about the world, but if it makes making beer a little easier, okay.

The recipes aren’t very descriptive; there is no BJCP (http://www.bjcp.org/stylecenter.php) brewing style given, and grains are labeled as “amber crystal malt”. 35º, 60º, 120º amber malts? American, German, British? Dingmans’ biscuit malt? And the directions are somewhat confusing for the novice so read them through carefully- they are in order of ingredient, not times of additions. HBU’s are used to calculate the amount a hop addition in the porter recipe, so make sure you have the formula to figure out alpha acids before you go get supplies. BYO magazine has a good article here: http://byo.com/stories/article/indices/50-recipe-calculations/123-alpha-hop-soup-figuring-bitterness-ibus-aaus-and-hbus.

That said, I’m glad the White House put out the recipes. I don’t usually like to brew other people’s recipes because I brew infrequently enough that I don’t have time to test all of my own ideas, but occasionally it’s good to brew a recipe that I didn’t write. Not only does it give me a standard to measure my skills as a home brewer (Did I hit the target gravity? If brewing a clone, did the beer taste like the original?) but it also gives me a chance to learn from other people’s ideas.

Extract and partial extract brewing are easy ways to get started home brewing. The cleanup is easier and the process is faster. What you lose is the control over what goes in the kettle. By doing all grain I can decide on grains from all over the world, and most home brew supply stores will carry a wide variety of grains and roast levels. Some brew stores have close to 100 types of grains and roasts, while most usually only have three or four kinds of bulk malts and if you want to create a recipe it can be hard to know what will be available and what you’re really getting. One time, I bought what I thought (and was labeled) as liquid wheat malt, only to find out later it was light barley malt. I didn’t end up with quite the Belgian-style wheat I was aiming for. Not bad, but not what I wanted.

If you buy cans of malt (as indicated in the White House recipes) you can be a little more sure of what you’re getting, and your options will usually increase as well. The catch here is that not every store will have a huge selection of canned extracts, while I have yet to find a brew store that doesn’t carry Maris Otter, Torrified wheat or biscuit malt. The other big difference I’ve noticed in brewing with extracts is that I have a lot more boilovers. Occasionally a kettle will boil over when I’m using all grain- but not nearly as frequently. You should be stirring your wort during the brewing process anyway, though you’ll need to keep a sharper eye on your extract brews. Putting foil under your burners is a good idea too, I do that anyway.

Attached to this post is a Beer Tools printout of the White House Honey Ale. I’ve scaled the batch down to make use of my three gallon carboys and interpreted some of the ingredients based on what was available locally. I changed the yeast because I already had the US-05 in my freezer. I used all liquid extract (from the bulk section of by brew store) because I mistyped in Beer Tools and entered the dry extract as extract. Should still be interesting, and I’ll have something to toast with on Election Day. Early voters can get in on the action too, it’s home brew after all. Which, I’ll take a moment to point out was legalized in 1979 by another Democratic President, Jimmy Carter.

For those of you looking for another easy partial grain recipe to brew, I have an Irish Red Ale up on the Recipe File page.


White House Honey Ale

3.25 oz demeterra sugar in 3 quarts of water, normally I don't use this much liquid in priming a batch for bottling but (per third comment) wanted to lover the final ABV of this batch slightly.








When dissolving sugar in canning jars, leave the lids slightly loose so that you can shake them to dislodge stuck sugar granules safely. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the water bath, tighten the lid and let cool to room temperature.


  1. graincandy says:

    I’m not the only one who noticed the amber color of the Honey Ale, but I don’t recall it being labeld as a brown ale:

    • graincandy says:

      At yeast addition:
      Specific Gravity = 1.066 at 72 degrees; temperature correction is +0.001
      Adjustes SG = 1.067; about 8.75% potential abv

      At first racking:
      Specific Gravity reading = 1.018 at 68 degrees; temperature correction is +0.001
      Adjusted SG = 1.019, or 2.2% potential alcohol – about 6.5% abv currently
      Nice malt flavors coming through, hops are in the background but come through in the finish. Mellow honey flavor throughout- more prominent in the nose.

      • graincandy says:

        Bottled; Specific Gravity Reading = 1.018 at 68 degrees
        Temperature correction = +0.001
        Adjusted Specific Gravity = 1.019; 2.25% potential alcohol

        Alcohol content is (8.75 starting potential – 2.25 ending potential) 6.5% by volume.

        Because I prefer my beers to be in the 4.5 – 6% range I diluted with 3 quarts sterilized water. I used the water to dissolve the 3.25 oz. demeterra sugar used for priming, which should lower the alcohol content to 6% and give about 2.5 atmospheres of pressure.

        Yield was:
        33x longnecks (13 oz)
        6x bombers (22 oz)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s