Brew Biz: Werts and All

Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.

Written by Ken Carman


Topic this edition: Witch Beer Really Isn’t Witch?

I usually love creative names. But I think Lost Abbey was wise when they decided to repackage Witch’s Wit…

When Professor Goodales contacted me and told me what he was planning for Halloween, I couldn’t resist. He knew as a Unitarian I might have the panache’ to contact those who complained about this label and offer, in advance, the site’s misgivings about using this story as portrayed by the media.

I must start by mentioning that I don’t believe any actual ill-intent exists towards Wicca or Wiccans on the part of the brewery. With the pun, multiple meaning, name “Witch’s Wit,” it has all indicators of being a joke: a bad one, admittedly. Should we therefore have a German style beer named “Lampshade Lager?” How about “Whipped Slave Bock?”

Sensitivity obviously wasn’t a strong trait of whomever thought up this atrocity. And even if most Wiccans really were witches, there is an obvious long history of witch burnings that should shame those who laugh too long at this “joke.” More often than any other reason, witch burnings had more to do with mass hysteria and power plays within a community. Least we forget, one of the ways of “proving” one wasn’t a witch was dunking. If you died, well you weren’t a witch. If you had a great pair of lungs then they set you on fire.

Great options there… not.

Wicca celebrates the seasons and is Earth-centered. There are Atheist Wiccans, Agnostic Wiccans and while the theistic Wiccans believe in a God and a Goddess, they are often viewed as simply characteristics of the same deity. You know, like Christians view the Trinity? Even Wiki has this wrong. Many Wiccans are not witches.

To be honest, you may find this amazing if you are a beer judge, variations on Wicca are more plentiful than styles and sub-styles of beer. To blatantly call all “witches” is almost as inaccurate as “Satanists,” which is very, very inaccurate. You might as well call all Christians “Jehovah Witnesses.”

Here is one of the best sites I found that does handle Wicca and witchcraft in a sensible manner, definition-wise.

Now as to style, gee it’s nice they thought to use some alliteration, but what has the delicate taste of a Wit, or “Witte,” have to do with the rather strong, offensive, act of declaring someone a witch and then setting them on fire? Perhaps if they had used a large quantity of hot peppers: various types, and made a specialty version of Wit.

The brewery was wise in backing away from what I still assume was an attempt at humor. Perhaps a name more appropriate to the style might be in order.

And maybe next time the brewery won’t burn themselves by playing with rhetorical matches.

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Brew Biz: Werts and All, is a column dedicated to reviewing, discussing and commenting on all things beer including, but not limited to: marketing, homebrewing and homebrew/beer related events, how society perceives all things beer. Also: reviews of beer related businesses, opinions about trends in the beer business, and all the various homebrew, judging and organizations related to beer. Essentially, all things “beer.”

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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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