Much has been made of President Obama’s beer with Medal of Honor winner Dakota Meyer (mostly along the lines of “Only a monster would have a beer with a war hero and let it be photographed!“), and now the beer itself is becoming newsworthy. As it turns out, they shared a beer called White House Honey Ale, and it’s the first to be brewed on-site at the White House. On that front: four positive lessons we can take from home-brewing at the highest level of civilian authority.

1. Frugality

Well, kind of, at any rate. Once all the factors are accounted for, home-brewing can save money in the long run when practiced with skill and efficiency, something the White House’s trained culinary staff (who do the actual brewing) are probably able to do. In the midst of a recession (possibly a Stealth Depression?), that’s a good note to sound.

2. Tradition

Back during Prohibition (and before), home-brewing wasn’t a hobby for engineers and network administrators; it was a way to obtain beer on a regular basis, albeit with the occasional exploded bottle and/or legal sanction thrown into the mix for excitement’s sake. Like canning and gardening, it’s a charming throwback to earlier eras when people did stuff and made stuff, rather than simply buying stuff.

3. Terroir

When you drink a beer, you drink the sense of place that goes with it—not literally, like wine (although the idea of being able to taste “the granite-quartzite soil structure” in wine has been attacked), but figuratively, in the sense that it helps you relate to people from a certain part of the country or world. And whether that’s Boston (Sam Adams), San Diego (Stone), or the Matrix (MillerCoors), it’s one of beer’s great appeals.

4. Deliciousness

Put even a mediocre home-brewed beer against the tasteless, adjunct-laden drivel known as American lager, and you’re in beer heaven. On that basis alone, the White House deserves an attaboy for serving up its own brew. And in the rare event you find yourself trying Obama’s beer and it doesn’t measure up in this category, some sage advice for letting him know, courtesy of our etiquette columnist, Helena Echlin.

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