Beer-only fast ends with bacon smoothie
J. Wilson (right) drank only beer for Lent. Brewmaster Eric Sorensen (left) helped make the beer.
April 27th, 2011
04:20 PM ET

Beer-only fast ends with bacon smoothie

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:

- "I just don’t think we give ourselves enough credit to accomplish difficult tasks. I think our bodies are capable of more than we ask of [them]. And certainly in relation to willpower - willpower related to food or willpower of how you’re going to conduct yourself spiritually - I think we can do more.

- "I noticed early on a difference between needs and wants. The first thing I noticed even in that first week, I got to the spot on day three when I wasn’t hungry any more, physically hungry. The aroma of food would kind of zap me and I would desire the cheeseburger that I smell or somebody’s chicken noodle soup across the office. So I didn’t need it but I wanted it. So there’s a difference between needs and desires.

- "The real challenge is it’s one thing to subscribe to beliefs, religion or otherwise, it’s another thing to apply them to your life every moment of your life. Part of that whole monk in the world philosophy I was exploring is can you live like a monk or believe like a monk and still navigate our crazy world? The ongoing challenge is you’ve got these beliefs, now fine. Live it."

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.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Easter • Iowa • Lent

soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. Bud Wizer

    As far as beer stories go, I think this one has been given all the head it deserves. Time to move on CNN, lest your initials start to become known for Certainly Not Newsworthy.

    April 27, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  2. Brad W

    You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning

    April 27, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  3. Mr. T. Bag


    April 27, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  4. jefffbo

    I could do this no problem at all...

    April 27, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  5. UnSub

    How does drinking beer get you closer to Jesus? I guess that's like saying cutting down apple trees will get me closer to Johnny Appleseed since they're both fables and all.

    April 27, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • Jacob

      Well...Jesus was a raging alcoholic. Why else would he go around telling people he was the son of god? What sound did the Apostles hear when Jesus "walked on water"? Gurgle gurgle.

      April 27, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • John

      Funny thing...Johnny appleseed isn't a fable. Maybe you're wrong about JC too?

      Another funny thing, Johnny appleseed was planting apple trees because at that time in history guess what they liked to make into beer? You guessed it, apples! You may a relavant post to this story and you weren't even trying, i wonder what you could do if you did try?

      April 27, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • John

      Yes sorry...may = made

      April 27, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  6. cooolthings

    Bacon smoothie? A vegetable or fruit smoothie to break a fast is probably a good idea... juice a better idea... bacon smoothie, simply idiotic. Where did this guy do his "research?" The Onion?

    April 27, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Isn't bacon one of the three basic food groups?

      April 27, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      what goes in smoothie will be coming out smoothier

      April 27, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
  7. Ivan

    Nice! The guy on the left is heterochromic (is that a word?), pretty rare and pretty cool to have two different colored eyes.

    April 27, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • weallgotone

      They change colors after he puts his beer goggles on.

      April 27, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Heterochromia

      I have heterochromia.
      From a birth injury.

      April 27, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  8. weallgotone

    What? No hangover?

    April 27, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  9. Arick

    Eh...to each his own. Some of you seem to be angry at this guys for no real reason. It is his body, his life, and he can do with it whatever he wishes. Don't like the story? Then go found your own international news corporation and then you can decide what is newsworthy. Until then, cry more.

    April 27, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Anthony

      I'll drink to that!

      April 27, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Ray

      Amen, brother! People are always going to hate on someone enjoying what they're doing. Get up a do something with your own life so you don't have to try and belittle other people.

      April 27, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • The Devil™

      @ Arick

      Go down to the corner, make a right. Paddy's Brew Zoo has cases of Schlitz. Here's a $20. Get some beef jerky too. Take Tony and Ray with you.

      Geez, guys. Lighten up; have some fun !

      April 27, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  10. Jim Nashville, TN

    Well – I've been doing it back asswards. I give up been every year for lent.

    April 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  11. PraiseTheLard

    Hey... the guy lost 25 pounds... Now, there's a diet I can drink to!!!

    Of course, he drank a dark beer as he didn't want to go to Helles...

    April 27, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Anon

      Maybe he went to Helles an bock.

      April 27, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  12. Ohfudge!

    Wow, new diet...lose weight drinking just beer...now if my employer would just let me come in plastered, I'd be fine!

    April 27, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      You and I had the same thought at the same time... you typed faster...

      April 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  13. NIck

    I am confused about the hostility in these comments. It is a cool story and I admire his efforts

    April 27, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      you're confused because you've been following his example. get back on the wagon.

      April 27, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  14. Up Your Rear Admiral

    Wow. The guy apparently survived without f_rts and belches that can be heard nationwide. It's a miracle! Make him a saint!

    April 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  15. me

    Here's a thought for "Artist" and "The Devil"... the article was interesting... both of your comments suck!

    April 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • The Devil™

      @ me

      Some of us set our standards just a little higher than others... You found this article "interesting ?" Good. When we need someone to send on a beer run we'll call you.

      April 27, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral™ ® ©

      The Devil™, I found your comments interesting and I tip my glass to you.

      As for "me", I belch in your general boring direction.

      April 27, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • The Devil™

      @ Up Your Rear Admiral™ ® ©

      I liked your name better without all the tags... Now it looks like an 'as seen on TV' bathroom gadget.

      April 27, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • The Devil™

      ...of course mine looks like a cheapo vacuum cleaner.

      April 27, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  16. markman

    when the pope heard that German monks were breaking fast with beer he ordered them to send him a sample. After several weeks on an ox cart over the alps the pope tested the beer and it was so god awful that he deem drinking beer as a punishment. The German monks were allowed to continue drinking beer during fast.

    April 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  17. CallingBS

    I'm glad they followed up! Artist, question, why did you come back to the story? It must be true then , that one makes his own hel! Welcome back!

    April 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  18. Paul

    I drink beer all day long. WHERE'S MY BBC INTERVIEW??

    April 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • A Vet

      I know...right!

      April 27, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  19. aubrie

    and this fool didn't dehydrate??? Give me a break... Yeah he looks REAL healthy in the photo..... Ass.

    April 27, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • Average Moderate

      That photo was taken at the beginning of the fast.

      April 27, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Tim

      Just because he was fasting doesn't mean he wasn't drinking water...
      The abstinence from food and drink doesn't refer to water. In fact drinking water is strongly encouraged.

      April 27, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • k

      Why would he become dehydrated DRINKING beer? It is a fluid with water in it. He wasn't drinking excessively. 5 heavy beers during the day? He certainly wouldn't be urinating too excessively.

      Water has only been clean for less than 100 years, beer was how much of the world hydrated for 100s of years because it wasn't filled with bacteria.

      April 27, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  20. Artist

    Serious this story is coming back up? I am in hell and there is a stupid story in it.

    April 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • The Devil™

      What'd you expect from CNN, classic literature?

      "Stupid Stories Are Us!"

      Seems that anyone still waiting for a Terry Jones / First Amendment / Dearborn story will just have to wait...

      April 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Peace2All

      -BG/Let Us Prey/Dancing with Trolls/.308...is that you...?


      April 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • The Devil™

      Hi Peace!

      It be me. My exorcism is being webcast at 8pm tonight.

      April 27, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @The Devil

      LOL.... I seem to recognize your postings as faintly or strongly familiar ! I know if I'm gettin' a chuckle out of them it usually is a pretty good clue.

      I look forward to your 'exorcism' tonight. 🙂


      April 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • The Devil™

      @ Peace2All

      Just out of curiosity... http://exorcism.com. Looks like a marketing webguide! " The fastest and easiest way to get what you want!" Imagine. Love the picture of the high-rise in the lower right corner for 'exorcism'. Looks like a nice vacation getaway. What next? Can I make plane reservations on Beelzebub.org, or send flowers on princeofdarkness.com? Holy crap! I can order videos, too!

      Satan Dangerfield. No respect.

      April 27, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Seems to me all you non-believers work for CNN (LOL).


      April 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • John

      I love the people that comment on stories with things such as, "This is news,really?" You know the internet is a big place and can hold a lot of information. And you know the other great thing about the internet? You don't have to click on every link you see. But maybe you didn't know that. So my suggestion to you all who can't believe that yet another story you didn't like was posted...Don't read it.

      April 27, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • BG

      @ John

      " to you all who can't believe that yet another story you didn't like was posted...Don't read it."

      Wouldn't you have to read it to know whether you liked it or not...?

      Well – I'll – be the judge of that, thank you very much...

      April 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • John

      @ BG


      Stories have headlines that let you know what the topic of the story is going to be. So for example if you don't care about a man who is fasting only on beer for lent dont read it. In other words, if you know you dont like the topic as Artist (to whom I was responding) clearly did, he should not read the story. And if you wonder how i know this about Artist, its because he makes mention of the first story about J.wilson. Any other questions let me know.

      April 27, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • BG

      @ John

      " So my suggestion to you all..." All we have to go on here are the words one writes.

      G'night, Johh.

      April 27, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      John, don't feed the apes (oops), I mean animals.


      April 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • John

      @ BG

      "All we have to go on here are the words one writes..." and yet you refuse to take into account all the words one writes.

      G'night BG

      April 28, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.