"What'll you have?"
A good question to ask house guests or a catchy slogan if you're Pabst Brewing. But it becomes a more complicated question when you're the leader of the free world, where every action and every decision is analyzed. Yes, when you're the president of the United States even your choice in beer is scrutinized.
Recently, President Barack Obama stopped at Ziggy's Bar in Amherst, Ohio, about 30 miles outside Cleveland. The president stayed about 90 minutes, stopping to talk with patrons and pose for photos. In those photos, the president is seen drinking a Miller Lite draft and later, a bottle of Bud Light.
The photos created headlines about the president's "carefully orchestrated appearance" designed to appeal to "working class" crowds and his choice of beer was presumed to be evidence of that.
It's a logical conclusion, as Bud Light has been in the political spotlight before. It was President Obama's beer of choice for a 2009 White House beer summit with Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and policeman James Crowley.
But the choice may come as a surprise to some beer fans, who might expect President Obama to select a craft beer, especially since he has been known to brew his beer at the White House.
Marketing consultant Laura Ries thinks Bud Light is a good fit for the president.
"Going with Bud Light is a safe choice and is probably the best choice," says Ries. "Bud says 'leader.' I think it is still believed by Joe SixPack across the nation to be an 'all-American' beer. Even though it is owned by a foreign conglomerate now, most people don't think about it. The average person thinks of Budweiser as an American choice."
The appeal for a politician, Ries suggests, lies in Bud Light's popularity.
"With Bud Light being the best-selling beer, obviously a majority of people are drinking it, and for most people, Obama kicking back with a Bud Light is a relatable experience," Ries continued. "Take a look at the list of best-selling beers and a majority of people are drinking light beers. In certain circles, Bud is looked down upon and only craft beer is cool, but for most people, they are drinking Budweiser, Bud Light and Coors Light, the general mass brands."
Anheuser-Busch Inbev of Belgium now owns Budweiser and Bud Light, while Coors and Miller are owned by Molson Coors Brewing, which has dual headquarters in Denver and Montreal.
Miller Time at Ziggy's
Miller Lite and Bud Light may have ruled the day at Ziggy's, but the bartender on duty doesn't think it was an orchestrated move.
"(President Obama) started to ask what we had on tap, and then he just turned to (Governor) Ted Strickland and said 'what did you order?'" says Katie Ives, the bartender at Ziggy's on the day the president visited. "The Governor said 'Miller Lite' and so Obama turned back around and said 'I'll take two Miller Lites' and that was it."
The Bud Light that followed? It was bought by a patron who now has a great story about buying a president a beer.
"One of our regulars was at the bar drinking Bud Light and he asked the secret service 'Am I allowed to buy (the president) a drink?' And they said yes, it's fine. So he ordered an extra beer and the next thing I know he's offering it to the president. That was the Bud Light that (the president) carried around with him when he was talking to everybody."