Minnesota's 'Beer Guy' meets brewmaster in chief

  • Article by: TOM HORGEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 17, 2012 - 8:46 AM

President Obama gave him a bottle of White House home brew.

President Obama, Brad Magerkurth
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Brad Magerkurth, right, talked beer with President Obama Tuesday at the Coffee Connection in Knoxville, Iowa.

Photo: Courtesy of Brad Magerkurth ,

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Brad Magerkurth just wanted a cup of coffee. The traveling beer salesman from the Twin Cities had just sat down at a small-town Iowa cafe when in walked the president of the United States.

Minutes later, Magerkurth was talking beer with Barack Obama and being offered a bottle of the president's home brew.

"I thought to myself: 'This is really weird,'" Magerkurth recalled Thursday.

The whole encounter raised two questions: 1) The president has a home-brewing operation at the White House? And 2) He travels with a stockpile of homemade beer in his motorcoach?

Yes, reports Brad the Beer Guy, as he's known in the Twin Cities' tight-knit craft beer community.

"He's just a dude," Magerkurth said of his encounter with the president.

Magerkurth, who works for a St. Paul wholesaler called Artisan Beer Co., was in Knoxville, Iowa, on a business trip Tuesday morning when he stopped at the cafe.

"I thought it was really weird that they were wanding people at the front door," he said.

Then he watched Obama's motorcade pull up to the curb with the press corps and Secret Service agents in tow.

Once inside, the president chatted with customers and seemed genuinely interested in Magerkurth's beer expertise.

"He said, 'You know, Michelle and I brewed a beer together,'" Magerkurth recalled.

Obama launched into a two-minute story about the couple's home brew, made from honey harvested from a beehive in the White House garden. The president asked Magerkurth if he could give him a beer. Minutes later, an aide came back from the president's bus with a 12-ounce longneck bottle of White House Honey Ale.

"Try it out -- and we want a review," Obama told Magerkurth.

Save it or drink it?

Following the encounter, White House spokesperson Jay Carney told a gaggle of reporters that the home brew comes in two varieties, light and dark.

Some pundits have suggested that Obama is using beer to connect with voters. His everyman approach is in direct contrast with opponent Mitt Romney, who doesn't drink and was seen scooping ice cream in Ohio while Obama was buying beers at the Iowa State Fair, according to the Washington Post.

Magerkurth is preoccupied with a more serious dilemma. Should he save this presidential keepsake or drink the beer? After all, he did promise the president a review.

"How often does the president give you a beer?" Magerkurth said.

Not often. Obama reportedly shared a home brew with a Medal of Honor recipient last year. And a batch of the honey beer was supposedly made during this year's Super Bowl.

While this particular beer moment happened on the campaign trail, Magerkurth said his encounter with the president was devoid of politics.

"Beer brings people together," he said. "If people could just sit down and share a beer, I think the world would be a better place."

thorgen@startribune.com • 612-673-7909 • Twitter: @tomhorgen

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President Obama, Brad Magerkurth