29 October 2010

Lost Abbey's "Witch's Wit" Label Causes Stir

According to a story from Fox News, Wiccans are protesting a label for a new beer in Port Brewing's Lost Abbey brand, Witch's Wit, which depicts a woman being burned at the stake:

The story on the label of this bottle reads, "Whether you're a wonder healer, a caller of spirits or a lover of black magic, they will find you. And on that day, they will boil your blood, singe your skin and make a point to burn your soul to the ground. From that lonely stake, you'll be left to contemplate your life of spell casting, obscure tests and a world operated between shadows of night and day. Convicted of a dark art, the crowd will gather to watch as they raze your earthen existence. An intolerable pain is the cross you'll bear that day as you are removed from this righteous world. No one will summon the courage to save you in fear of their life. It sucks. But such is the life of a witch. In honor of your fleeting existence, we brewed Witch's Wit. A light and refreshing wheat beer, it's exactly the sort of thing you might expect to find being passed around the center of town on witch burning day. Say hello to the Prince of Darkness for us.
 I'm certainly no advocate of the neo-censorship masquerading as "political correctness," but I find this label just distasteful enough to avoid the product, were it available here, and worthy of negative commentary in this blog.   Would we allow a beer to celebrate or commemorate the stoning of an accused adulteress, or the beheading of someone of the wrong religious persuasion, or the lynching of someone of the wrong tribe or skin tone, or even the shaving of heads of enemy collaborators in World War Two?  (Now, never mind that accused witches were largely hanged, not burned, in Britain and colonial America, and that the ties between "witchcraft" of old and modern Wicca are tenuous at best, if not wholly fabricated out of convenience .....)

To be fair, nearly all the Lost Abbey labels (seen in this slideshow) "walk the line" of decorum and good taste, dealing with the theme of "religious irony" to quote brewer/founder Tomme Arthur.  Someone with a hair-trigger for being offended on issues of religion had best not go anywhere near the 750-ml. bottles of the brewery.


Andrew said...

The only difference between this and the endless images of crucifixes and other Christ imagery I'm bombarded with on a daily basis is that one group has embraced the violent imagery as its defining characteristic, while the other appears to have gone the other way.

Well, not really. I don't think any beer label would put some of the more gruesome Christ images on a bottle, and if they did I could certainly imagine a backlash. But in generAl, I always wonder where the think-of-the-children crowd is when the violent images of Christianity are on a billboard. Ohhhh, that's right. It doesn't count if it's part of a larger message on morality.

Paul E. Milligan said...

I just wish it were distributed in Maryland. It sounds like a good beer from what I've read, and I'd like to add the bottle to my collection (especially in case the label is changed).

JohnM. said...

@ Paul

If you don't mind making a short drive, I'm pretty sure the beer is available in the Philly market. I had it on tap a while back at a Lost Abbey/Port Brewing event at Union Jacks on the Manatawny, so I'm relatively certain that bottles are distributed as well (this is confirmed by "beermenues" Philly).

Capone's in Norristown has a very good bottle shop, and the owner there (Matt) is very good about obtaining rare and hard to fine bottles. There's a good chance the bottle shop will have it, or at least he can give you some update about its availability. Another possibility is the Beer Yard in Wayne, who also generally have an excellent selection.

Anyway, here's a useful tool to help narrow down your search.