April 27th, 2011
04:20 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – J. Wilson has survived his 46-day beer-only fast and found some unexpected spiritual insights.
Wilson, who lives outside Des Moines, Iowa, was emulating a Lenten tradition carried out by German monks hundreds of years ago. In keeping with tradition he ate his last solid food on Ash Wednesday and broke his fast on Easter Sunday.
“I made a bacon smoothie and that’s what I broke the fast with,” Wilson said.
He slurped down the smoothie after midnight on the morning of Easter Sunday. He was up late for an interview with the BBC in London for their Easter Sunday broadcast
Wilson undertook the fast with medical advice from his doctor and spiritual advice from his pastor, after he conducted lengthy research into extended fasts.
In his research he found that smoothies were the best way to ease back into food. The plan was to go three days on smoothies before eating any solid foods.
“I planned on focusing on some foods that would help specifically my liver and my kidneys, which I had been beating up on for a couple of weeks –- so foods like cabbage and broccoli and cauliflower,” he said. But it didn’t quite work out that way.
“I had no idea my wife was going to buy my two boys a ham for Easter,” he said. After he made a gravy with the drippings from the ham, he helped himself to two servings of mashed potatoes and gravy and some ham as well.
Wilson is an avid home brewer, blogger, and Christian, and his beer-only quest merged these passions.
For Lent, Christians often give up something to remember the sacrifice they believe Jesus made for them on the cross. Wilson decided to give up all food and drink except beer.
At the beginning of the fast Wilson drank four beers a day during the week and five a day on weekends. Toward the end of the fast, he increased his beer intake to five a day during the week to maintain his strength.
His drink of choice: 12 ounces of Illuminator Doppelbock, a recipe he developed and brewed with the help of Eric Sorensen, the senior brewer at Rock Bottom Brewery in Des Moines, Iowa.
Wilson kept one keg at home and one at the office at the Adams County Free Press newspaper, where he’s the editor. He spread the beers out through out the day and said he only felt tipsy three times over the 46 days.
He checked in with CNN's Carol Costello on the 31st day of the fast, and kept a running blog, the Diary of a Part-time Monk, documenting his quest and offering spiritual insights along the way.
Wilson said the spiritual takeaway was threefold:
From a health standpoint, Wilson seems no worse the wear. He began the fast at 160 pounds and finished up at 135. He saw his doctor Wednesday morning and was told everything looked good for now, pending the results of blood tests.
If you’re wondering if Wilson will ever drink beer again after living on nothing but beer for 46 days, he said he’ll probably take a break from doppelbock, but on Easter Sunday he brewed 10 more gallons of a different recipe.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.