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. Mark

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but "For Lent, Christians often give up something to remember the sacrifice they believe Jesus made for them on the cross" is not correct. The purpose of Lent is to recognize the 40 day/night period where Jesus fasted in the desert to confront and overcome temptation. Granted, this period marked the beginning of his path as a miracle worker/preacher which ultimately landed him on the cross, but a more appropriate tie to Jesus's sacrifice on the Cross would be the Stigmata.

    Anyway, the correct definition of lent is not the major point of the article, but you still might want to look into editing that sentence/section.

    April 28, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  2. Philbin

    This is what Ron Howard would look like if he moved to Portland.

    April 28, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  3. pdikeman


    April 28, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  4. MarciaMarciaMarcia

    We get it, you like beer

    April 28, 2011 at 8:09 am |
  5. steeve-o

    My will power is questioned when I try not to drink beer. God bless this guy... and beer. Salainte!

    April 28, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  6. SAM

    Look at all the drunks

    April 28, 2011 at 6:27 am |
    • Johnny

      I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day.

      April 28, 2011 at 8:20 am |
    • arowell

      You seem like a pleasant fellow...I bet you have lots of friends with all that negative judgement you pass along.

      April 28, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  7. SAM

    Thats good,keep advertisng this POISON

    April 28, 2011 at 6:24 am |
  8. Wolfpack

    I'm pretty sure that is Claire Danes on the right. Good for her, getting back in the spotlight and whatnot!

    April 28, 2011 at 4:38 am |
  9. HappyHippie

    Next year I will live on medicinal marijuana products for double the time he did this fast.

    Praise Rastaa

    April 28, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • Blah

      Let me know how the fast part of that works out. Good luck on the Doritos aisle.

      April 28, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  10. Shut The Front Door

    I will mot be bocked.

    April 28, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  11. Learn to Read

    To all the morons saying he looks tipsy in the picture, learn to read the cutlines. He's on the RIGHT, the brewer is on the left. I'm embarrassed for you.

    April 28, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • Yes

      Beat me to it.

      April 28, 2011 at 6:40 am |
  12. nicholas oscoff

    you sir, are an idiot. and you know it.

    April 27, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  13. lolz

    Only tipsy three times... Guess they got lucky and snapped a picture one of those times...

    April 27, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  14. Bill G

    Cool ear ring dbag

    April 27, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  15. blessedgeek

    Next year .... Food only fast.
    Or Fast food only fast.
    How about ... Donuts only fast, tortilla only fast, hot chili peppers only fast, Wendy's grilled chicken sandwich only fast ...

    April 27, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  16. lol

    talk about wanting publicity, I did this back in college for about 6 months straight. This guy is a joke

    April 27, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • thomas

      Man, i think back to college and I can barely remember a meal I ate in 4.5 years.

      April 28, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  17. johnnymac

    This guy is my hero!

    April 27, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  18. Cubs Suck

    This picture must have taken one of the three times he was buzzed.

    April 27, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Dood


      April 27, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  19. CMat

    Give up the alcohol and then tell me about ur revelations...this is silly

    April 27, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • AgamousChild

      I guess you think that all alcohol is bad? I say everything in moderation.
      Ecclesiastes III – To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

      Another biblical reference to alcoholic beverage is the miracle at Cana.

      If you don't put much stock in the bible or biblical references, then look at the intertwining of the rise of civilization and the rise of beer and other fermented drinks. People most likely advanced their civilzations because they wanted to be able to brew more beer!

      April 27, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • BP

      @AgamousChild – Yeah dude, you're totally right. Beer is the sole reason we have advanced as a civilization. People got drunk and decided to invent electricity to make more beer to get more electricity so they could make more beer.

      April 28, 2011 at 1:31 am |
    • LEB

      Red wine is actually good for you, in moderation. Also, wine used to be the staple drink before modern decontamination methods for water, since water can carry diseases if it's still (such as water from wells). The alcohol killed most of the bacteria present in water that was mixed in, making it safer to drink. Even children drank watered down wine.

      April 28, 2011 at 3:42 am |
    • Noocrat

      "Red wine is actually good for you, in moderation."

      The heart benefits are actually found in a single serving of essentially all kinds of alcohol.

      As for the added benefits of antioxidants and reservatol, you can get those without alcohol. That would be like telling someone to drink a screw driver for their vitamin C.

      April 28, 2011 at 7:33 am |
    • Johnny

      @BP - You are right.
      “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Ben Franklin (discovered electricity)

      April 28, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  20. Dick

    How do you post a comment on these things??

    April 27, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Bud Wizer

      You just did.

      April 27, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • ManohMan

      Nice job, Dick.

      April 28, 2011 at 8:08 am |
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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.