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Drinking to Victory: The InaugurAle Beer
Bottles of InaugurAle await opening in brewer Sam Chapple-Sokol's basement.
Comments () | Published January 15, 2009

For Mount Pleasant homebrewer Sam Chapple-Sokol, victory tastes like a cold glass of beer. The mastermind behind election night’s Audacity of Hops brew has returned with a tasty inauguration edition of his Barack Obama-inspired recipe: the InaugurAle.

“It’s the first time I’ve repeated a recipe,” says Chapple-Sokol, who has scrubbed clean 200 used beer bottles for four batches of his InaugurAle. “It’s the most I’ve made at one time. It didn’t burn me out, but it was a big expense and effort. At one point before Thanksgiving, I brewed straight from 2 PM to 3 AM.”

As a response to Obama’s decisive victory, Chapple-Sokol has dropped the Challenger variety of hops for the more aptly titled Liberty. He’s also had a friend print labels with an added “InaugurAle Edition” emblem modeled after Pabst Blue Ribbon—Obama’s beer of choice last Spring while courting voters in North Carolina. 

Chapple-Sokol’s beer—still supplied with a mixture of Hawaiian, Indonesian, and Kenyan coffee beans by his father—has a rich coffee-infused taste with hints of malt and mocha. But the brewer isn’t constrained by his punny title. He goes light on the hops to avoid a bitter taste and instead goes heavy on the alcohol, upping the percentage from 8% in his last batch to 9% in honor of the new year.

“It’s not too common,” says Chapple-Sokol of the high percentage. “Most beers are four or five percent. But it’s a celebration beer.”

Trained as a chemist by his father, Chapple-Sokol’s basement resembles a science lab. Instead of test tubes, tables are scattered with labelless bottles filled with varying shades of amber and brown-colored brews. In the past year or so, he’s experimented with a porter with cardamom spice, a redacted porter named after his Justice Department work, an organic blonde ale, and an amber ale with fig he thought of while drinking a beer on his couch with a box of Fig Newtons.

“What I like about homebrewing is you make 50 bottles at a time,” he says. “If you like the recipe you can repeat it, but if you screw it up it’s 45 or 50 bucks—not the end of the world.”

Chapple-Sokol says he’s open to making another batch of Obama beers, but it all depends on the inauguration demand. He’s also noticed a few competitors emerge on the Obama-beer market. During the Democratic convention in Denver, the Colorado brewery Oskar Blues marketed their signature Dale’s Pale Ale with Audacity of Hops posters. Chapple-Sokol didn’t learn about the coincidence until after he had named and brewed his own beer, but it was inevitable, he says. Budweiser has also released an American Ale featuring a Bald Eagle to take advantage of the fervor Obama’s inspired. For now, the homebrewer isn’t too worried. He likes a little competition.

If you’re interested in trying the InaugurAle, contact Sam Chapple-Sokol at sam@humblegourmand.com.

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Posted at 01:52 PM/ET, 01/15/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Blogs