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Red, Light & Blue at Obama's beer meet

world Updated: Jul 30, 2009 15:54 IST
Arun Kumar

When President Barack Obama sits down on Thursday with a Harvard professor and the police sergeant who arrested him in an attempt to douse a racial firestorm, each of them will have different brands of beer.

The president will drink Bud Light, White House Press Secretary Gibbs told reporters on Wednesday. Prof. Henry Louis Gates has said he likes Red Stripe, while Sgt. James Crowley mentioned to the president that he prefers Blue Moon.

"So we'll have the gamut covered tomorrow afternoon," Gibbs added. Weather permitting, the three will hoist a cold one on the picnic table next to the White House's new swing set around 6 pm.

Obama, who first said the white police officer in arresting the African American professor acted "stupidly" but then backed off that comment, called the meeting in the hope that the incident could provide a "teachable moment" on race relations.

For days, people have been speculating about what the president would choose for Thursday's gathering? A lager? A porter? Maybe a wheat beer? Does he pick something light to help the men with Washington's summer heat?

Gibbs's announcement aboard Air Force One Wednesday now clears the way for the Red, Lite and Blue summit.

But one Massachusetts congressman still thinks another beer entirely should be served: Boston's own Sam Adams.

In a letter to Obama dated on Wednesday, Massachusetts Representative Richard Neal strongly urges the president not to drink Budweiser, now owned by a Belgian company. Nor should the White House consider serving Miller or Coors, Neal writes, both owned by a United Kingdom conglomerate.

Instead, the White House should serve the three men - all with ties to Massachusetts - the local favorite, not only because of its popularity in the region but also because it remains the largest American-owned and brewed beer, Neal says.

But Sam Adams founder and brewer Jim Koch told NPR if it was up to him he would make a special beer just for the event.

"I'd make a blend of ingredients from all over the world. Which is certainly what's represented there with the three participants," he said.

"I would blend those ingredients together artfully and harmoniously, because that's really what we all hope for."

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