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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stout Politics: Obama, Guinness, and the Queen

I have always felt that beer, particularly when applied in the convivial setting of a cozy pub, is the tonic to bring people together. Or, in some cases, countries:
President Barack Obama opened his four-nation, six-day tour through Europe with a stop in Ireland on Monday. There, he downed a pint of Guinness, traversed to the tiny town of Moneygall to meet distant relatives, and spoke to an estimated cheering crowd of 25,000 in Dublin. Obama praised the "centuries-old relationship" between Ireland and America, and said his visit was meant “to reaffirm those bonds of affection."

Obama continues his run as the most good-beer-friendly president since George Washington. He drinks beer at the ballgame. He touts hometown beer (Chicago's Goose Island, now helmed by Oregonian Brett Porter). And when in Ireland, he drains a pint of plain. Obviously, I would have preferred he go with Beamish or--radical idea--one of the upstart craft breweries. (Don't get the Beer Nut started.) But hey, politics is politics:
Even for those who don’t have their fingers on the nuclear button, alcohol, particularly beer, sucks away formality and promotes trust, in part because demonstrates a willingness to be vulnerable among one’s company. For a president, merely sipping a pint collapses the arrogance and pretensions of his high office; the man’s not quite so perfect — he’s approachable.
And indeed, when Queen Elizabeth visited Ireland last week, she wouldn't deign to stain her lips with the plebians' pleasure. (Don't get me started.)

As for Guinness--or rather parent company Diageo--a picture is worth a quite lot more than a thousand words.
Marketing experts estimate that the photograph of President Obama downing a pint of plain in Ollie Hayes’s bar is worth over $200 million to Guinness. Some marketeers have even suggested Guinness could cancel its advertising spend for the rest of the year on the back of Obama’s decision to drink his pint of the black stuff.
I wonder--surely the picture of the Queen turning her back on the pint glass is worth a Euro or two amongst the radical anti-monarchists across the commonwealth? It certainly makes me feel a bit of fondness.



  1. Hell, man, look at her! She probably couldn't lift a full imperial pint!

  2. as they say, Guinness for strength...

  3. Listen Bryson you big lump. She could probably drink you under the table. Or knock you under it!

  4. Obama kinda has that "I'm gonna finish you in one gulp" look in his eyes whilst looking at that pint!

    PS. Tandys right. The Queen's hardcore!!

  5. Beamish? Dunno why a crappy Dutch-owned beer would be better than a crappy British-owned one.

    Apparently Heineken Ireland offered Ollie Hayes's 30 free kegs if they'd serve Obama Murphy's instead. Heineken Ireland presumably being totally oblivious of the Secret Service choreography that governs these things.

  6. Nice article, thanks for the information.

  7. Wasn't Obama the first to home brew at the White House?...

    How To Brew Beer