There can only be one undistributed beer of the week. The competition is fierce in San Diego's beer community, but someone has to take the title. This week's best undistributed beer is...
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens: Witty Moron
Style: Black witbier
Pair with: mandarin salad
This unfiltered beer is all citrus on the nose. It's a balanced, chocolaty, Belgian brew with strong flavors of sweet orange and zesty lemon.
The story: This beer comes to us from Stone Brewing Co.'s Liberty Station Brewing Manager, Kris Ketcham. The inspiration for Witty Moron came from two beers Ketcham loved and he decided to give it a twist to create his own drinkable version.
"I became a fan of witbier-style ales back when I first started my brewing career at Oceanside Ale Works in 2006. They made a delicious and beautiful one called White Water Wit. Because of how refreshing and easy drinking it was, I remember falling in love with the beer," he said. "Later, I went on to discover a beer by The Bruery called Black Orchard, which also happened to be the first ever black witbier that I stumbled across."
After tasting such refreshing recipes, it was time for Ketcham to invent his own something special that would pay homage to those brews, yet be a relevant addition to Stone's style of beer. How does one begin on this kind of task? Well, he started with adding a low alpha acid hop called Sonnett and a dehusked black malt to his would-be witbier.
"Brewed like a traditional Belgian witbier using oats, pilsner and wheat malts, its unique onyx color is made possible from the addition of dehusked black malt. The Belgian wit yeast from White Labs really gives Witty Moron its true identity," Ketcham said.
The obvious and probably most appealing part about this beer is how well the yeast combines with the other strong, flavorful ingredients. The addition of coriander and orange makes the beer ultra-tasty and balanced, but it wasn't always a tasty beer. Yep, this beer that won a gold medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival started out as "the little beer that could" Ketcham says.
"The first time I brewed Witty Moron, I didn't like it. I thought the beer needed a lot of work and I debated on whether or not I should make it again," he said. "However, as I started to enjoy pints of the beer, I picked apart what I loved and thought it definitely had some potential. Based on my own personal preferences, I began to make small changes to the recipe and I would drink a Witty Moron after work to help me evaluate everything. After three different brews, I finally got the beer to be a style that I really enjoyed drinking!"
Once the recipe was perfected, the beer was submitted into the "other Belgian-style" category for the 2014 GABF. The beer won the gold medal in 2014 and then bronze the next year in the same category, which is a very rare occurrence.
"I remember coming in the day after GABF hoping to celebrate with a pint of Witty Moron, only to discover that the last three to four kegs blew that day because of this announcement. This honorable recognition definitely made more people start trying it and well, the rest is history," he said.
If you're wondering about the very memorable, seemingly obscure name of this brew, it is actually more correlated to the beer than it appears. The beer itself is a black white ale - an oxymoron beer, if you will.
"I wanted to take this [fact] up a notch by making the name some sort of pun. Enter Witty Moron. When I first suggested this to my brewer at the time, Matt Courtright, he replied, 'Yeah, you are!' His response was perfect and it made me fall in love with the name even more," Ketcham said.
This beer is currently available on tap at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Liberty Station. Get it while it's cold.
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, 2816 Historic Decatur Road, Liberty Station. stonebrewing.com