An Iowa man made headlines recently for his announcement that he was going on a beer fast for Lent. It wasn’t that he gave up beer for lent; this man going by J. Wilson gave up food and announced he would live solely on beer, as monks did hundreds of years ago.
Man decides to live only on beer
Ordinarily, when a man announces that he is going to live solely on beer, it elicits joking encouragement from his friends and eye-rolling from his significant other. However, J. Wilson of Iowa got the idea from reading about Bavarian monks who sustained themselves during the Lenten fast on beer and water alone, according to AOL News. He decided to undergo the same regimen, drinking several glasses of beer per day for nourishment with plenty of water. He started a blog to catalog his experiences called “Diary of a Part-Time Monk,” which will be part of a book about the whole process. The project is not a stunt to get drunk; Wilson wanted to experience sacrificing a lot in the name of pursuing one’s faith, as monks did during a fast.
Special fast requires a special brew
Wilson had to have a beer that could provide the necessary calories to keep him alive during a 46-day fast. The monks he was inspired by drank a dark, think lager called doppelbock, which was brewed specifically to keep them alive during a fast. Wilson is also the editor of a beer blog called “Brewvana” and enlisted a Des Moines brewery called the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery. Rock Bottom created its Illuminator Doppelback for him to drink, and he has been living on it since Lent began. On his blog, he asserts that he will have drank just more than 21 gallons by the end of Lent, though he also told the Chicago Tribune that he was “sick of it probably four or five days in.” Lent ends on Easter Sunday, April 24.
Do not try at home
Wilson undertook the project under the supervision of medical professionals, the advice of a pastor and with the consent of his boss. The idea of living on beer is not without some precedent. The brewery of the “Paulaner monks of the Neudeck ob der Au” that he credits for inspiration is still operating. The Paulaner brand of beer is made there, and it is available worldwide. Throughout most of European history, drinking water was a dangerous proposition, and beer was the second most common source of calories besides bread. Monks, who had a religious obligation to eat little, supplemented their diet by drinking about a gallon of beer per day.
AOL News: http://www.aolnews.com/2011/04/01/iowas-j-wilson-halfway-through-beer-only-lent-fast/
Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/ct-talk-beer-lent-j-wilson-0401-20110331,0,7274382.story
Diary of a Part Time Monk: http://diaryofaparttimemonk.wordpress.com/
Wikipedia on Paulaner: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulaner_Brewery
See “Beer in the Middle Ages and Renaissance” by Richard Unger for more on beer in European history.
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