Can a Beer Keep Trump and Clinton Honest?

Can a beer keep Trump and Clinton honest?

Hillary Clinton is mistrusted by the majority of the public. Donald Trump continually fudges facts in his speeches. But one Scottish brewery claims to have a beverage that can solve it all.

Edinburgh-based brewery Innis & Gunn claim their new draft “Smoke & Mirrors” is a fermented truth serum, rendering its imbiber incapable of anything other than straight talk. And they’ve sent a bottle to both Clinton and Trump, suggesting they sample the suds and start an honesty tour of their own.

A shameless bit of self-promotion? Probably, but Innis & Gunn CEO Dougal Sharp says there’s some science behind a beverage promising to “unlock the truth” and “enhance the truth one sip at a time.”

Sharp says the brew’s ingredient list — which includes licorice root, the herb mullein and vine essence — was selected “enhance mental skills and the cognitive process,” while other ingredients were included to make the drinker more relaxed. The result, he says, is a drink that promotes “Scottish-style straight talk,” if not Catholic confessional-style soul unburdenings.

“This is some experimentation,” Sharp said. “Here’s the first craft beer that we think can help people tell the truth.”

He pauses.

“As long as no one’s offensive, if it sparks a conversation what can possibly be the harm?”

In an election season that has left voters whipsawed by spin and fact-checkers overworked, the idea that you can get to the bottom of things via the bottom of the bottle has a certain appeal to it. Poll after poll has shown Americans have less trust in their political candidates than ever before. A Fox News poll released this week found only 31 percent of voters found Hillary Clinton trustworthy, and 35 percent thought Donald Trump was trustworthy.

Hoping to help, Sharp says Clinton and Trump received among the first “Smoke & Mirrors” samples sent, and he says he’d like to find out if his beer bridges the trust gap between the candidates and the voters choosing between them.

Neither campaign responded to POLITICO queries about whether they’d received their bottles of “Smoke & Mirrors,” but the candidates’ habits suggest they might abstain: Trump reportedly doesn’t drink and, though Clinton has been known to throw back a beer on the campaign trail, she’s largely avoided it during her 2016 trek.

Sharp said sending beers to Trump and Clinton had less to do with their perceived shortcomings in truthfulness than the all-consuming coverage of their race for the White House.

In Scotland, as elsewhere, he said, viewers and voters are interested in hearing what they would say absent political restraints. “The reality is we get a lot of coverage of the U.S. presidential election in the United Kingdom,” Sharp said. “There are no two higher profile candidates than these two. I just think the passion with which these campaigns are being executed makes it an extraordinary process.”

Even when Barack Obama campaigned in 2008, Sharp said, “I just don’t think there was the same weight of interest.”

“What you want from these people and these campaigns is honesty,” he said.

“That’s what inspired us to brew this beer,” he said. “We want our politicians to be honest with us. What better way to do that than beer?”

I did receive a bottle of “Smoke & Mirrors” and, in the interest of journalistic excellence, tried it out on a recent evening.

The results were a bit inconclusive. The beer’s unique taste, somewhat malty like Scotch but less strong, made a forceful accompaniment to a dinner of fish and pasta. It did not turn me into a truth totem, but it did help put another work day in the 2016 campaign mix in perspective.

I didn’t feel any more or less honest, but I suppose I was happier to speak my mind. And when I asked my dinner companion if I seemed any more truthful, she said no, but that I did seem to lighten up a bit.

Perhaps all beer is magic.

Sharp said the beer was inspired by politics, but not primarily by the tilt between Clinton and Trump. Instead, it was the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” referendum and over leaving the European Union and Scotland’s vote to stay in the U.K. With that domestic turmoil, Dougal said, politicians have come into sharper focus among citizens (and drinkers), and interest in the truth has skyrocketed.

Henry C. Jackson,

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