Will today's White House Beer Summit start a global trade war?

At 6pm today, a beer war of international scope will begin. That's because the participants in the Beer Summit -- President Barack H. Obama, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, and Cambridge, Massachusetts Police Sargent James Crowley -- will each be drinking different beers. Those who thought that Boston Brewing Company (SAM) would be a big winner, including me, could be out to lunch unless a last minute lobbying effort pays off.

And it now looks like today's Beer Summit will pit two corporate beer titans -- Belgium's Anheuser-Busch's InBev NV and Colorado's Molson Coors Brewing Company (TAP) -- against each other and a privately-held Jamaican brewer, Desnoes & Geddes (D&G). Which company will benefit the most from this beer face-off at the picnic table on the South Lawn?

The answer depends on who is drinking what. Obama will drink a Bud Light -- he's on the InBev team; Crowley will quaff a Blue Moon, which is the Molson Coors brew; and Gates will sip the Red Stripe, and that's made by Jamaica's D&G, but it's distributed in the U.S. by London-based Diageo (DEO).

The answer is that all these companies will benefit. But is it wise for this Beer Summit face-off to give a boost to Coors -- given William Coors's racist remarks in 1984 about African-American and Mexican-American businessmen? And isn't it a bit ironic that the beer that Sgt. Crowley plans to drink this afternoon is made by the company whose patriarch made these remarks?

Meanwhile, it strikes me as a missed opportunity to give so much publicity to firms based in Belgium, London, and Jamaica when there is a perfectly good American company -- Boston Brewing -- which could probably benefit from a little help.

Update. It looks like Sam Adams found its way to the Beer Summit after all. Boston Brewing stock is up 1.24 percent today.

Peter Cohan is president of Peter S. Cohan & Associates. He also teaches management at Babson College. His eighth book isYou Can't Order Change: Lessons from Jim McNerney's Turnaround at Boeing. Follow petercohan on Twitter. He has no financial interest in the securities mentioned.

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