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Best Beer-Related FOIA Ever

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The President offers a toast to Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer. The President offers a toast to Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer. White House photo

President Obama likes beer -- so much so, in fact, that the news broke last week that he travels with his own White House brew. After chatting with a voter about the beer at an event, the president had a bottle of White House Honey Ale brought out of his campaign bus to prove it. 

It's been public knowledge for awhile that there's a special White House brew, but now homebrew enthusiasts are hankering to get their hands on the recipe. Some of them launched a petition on the administration's "We The People" site asking for its release. "In keeping with the brewing traditions of the founding fathers, homebrewers across America call on the Obama administration to release the recipe for the White House home brew so that it may be enjoyed by all," the petition states.

Unfortunately, as of Tuesday morning, the petition had only 276 signatures, well short of the 25,000 needed to get an official response.

Now, though, some members of a homebrew group at user-generated content site Reddit are taking a different approach. One of them posted an email he sent to the White House Office of Public Engagement asking for the recipe, arguing that any White House homebrews must have been "developed by staff paid for by American taxpayers."

No word on the response to that tactic, but another Reddit user has gone a more formal route: An official Freedom of Information Act request for the beer recipe. It's impressive in its use of formal bureaucratic language: "Disclosure of the requested information to me is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in my commercial interest."

But then the missive closes with what may be the boldest (and yet, most tempting) specific request under FOIA in history: "Also, if you could send me a copy autographed by the president, you'd be the coolest FOIA officer in the federal government, and who could resist that title?"

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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