Lagers of Our Leaders: A Look Back at What Presidents Have Imbibed

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F.D.R. threw keggers and J.F.K. was a Heineken man, while Theodore Roosevelt didn't touch the stuff.

The most pressing question of the week was what brands of brew would be quaffed at the White House "beer summit," the presidential peer-mediation between the Harvard prof and the Cambridge cop. Some foodie followers were dismayed to hear that President Obama chose to drink Bud Light, which some dismiss as the very symbol of corporate, mass-produced, flavorless beer-like product.

This is a rather recent obsession. French wines were commonplace at 1600 Pennsylvania up until Lyndon Johnson made drinking American a matter of national pride. He banished the old parlez-vous mouthwash, not only in the president's house, but also at every embassy and government function. The main effect of this was that for years the only fizzy wine in the White House was New York "champagne."

The last time the question of presidential beer was considered quite so newsworthy came in spring of 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt acted to make 3.2 beer legal, setting the stage for the elimination of Prohibition altogether. At the stroke of midnight, April 7, beer started flowing, and within minutes a shiny new truck from Washington's Abner-Drury Brewery was hurtling down a rain-slick Pennsylvania Ave, led by an escort of motorcycle cops. Inside the truck were two cases of freshly brewed beer; outside was a banner proclaiming, "President Roosevelt, the first real beer is yours!" Other beer makers were quick to follow suit. No dummy, F.D.R. had the bottles distributed to the thirsty gentlemen of the press.

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