Christians all over the world are using the period of Lent to embark on a surreal, spiritual journey. J. Wilson, however, took his journey to a whole new level of surreal last year. He fasted on beer and water.
Wilson’s beer-itual endeavor is rooted in the Catholic Church. But his main motivation was actually from the ancient 17th-century monks of Neudeck ob der Au outside Munich, Germany.
These monks developed a rich and malty beer called doppelbock. They used it to sustain them during a Lenten fast, which was traditionally a 46-day lead up to Easter.
The beer was filled with carbs, calories and vitamins, which made it a very good source of nutrients. The German monks nicknamed the beer “liquid bread.”
Wilson, a homebrewer and certified beer judge, said he became quite intrigued by the German monks and their spiritual connection with “liquid bread.”
He wanted to know if the story about the German monks were true so he set out to try the beer himself. Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery Head Brewer Eric Sorenson was only too happy to collaborate with Wilson. Out in West Des Moines, Iowa, they worked to perfect a commercial release of one of Wilson’s recipes—Illuminator Doppelbock.
Wilson then began his Lenten fast, surviving only on Doppelbock and water. He reportedly drank four beers a day during the workweek—five on the weekends. He worked for The Adams County Free Press in Southwest Iowa. His boss fully supported his fast.
Loads of media attention came after
“I knew that I could stretch four beers over the course of a day and function well, but I hadn’t planned for the media attention that the investigation spurred. I found myself giving more than five interviews a day to the likes of CNN, BBC, Fox News, the Chicago Tribune, The Catholic Herald and Men’s Health magazine, among others.”
Wilson describes his experience for the first few days
“At the beginning of my fast, I felt hunger for the first two days. My body then switched gears, replaced hunger with focus, and I found myself operating in a tunnel of clarity unlike anything I’d ever experienced.While hunger subsided quickly, my sense of smell provided persistent temptation for more than a week. But the willpower to carry out my objective brought peace to the “Oh man that cheeseburger smells good” thoughts. Soon, I could see, smell or discuss anything food-related without trouble.”
Wilson said during his fast, he lost 25.5 pounds but gained so much more.
“The benefits of self-discipline can’t be overstated in today’s world of instant gratification. The fast provided a long-overdue tune-up and detox, and I’ve never felt so rejuvenated, physically or mentally.”
Wilson proved to himself and the world that the origin story of monks fasting on doppelbock could actually be true.
“It left me with the realization that the monks must have been keenly aware of their own humanity and imperfections. In order to refocus on God, they engaged this annual practice not only to endure sacrifice but to stress and rediscover their own shortcomings in an effort to continually refine themselves.
Though they lived out their faith at a higher degree of daily devotion than the average person, they could sense their loss of focus. Taking nothing for granted, they took steps to rectify that problem on an annual basis. Shouldn’t we all, whether or not our religious tradition includes Lent?”
You can read Wilson’s article over at CNN by clicking here.