Day 1

I’m a little torn that I’m sharing this experience with you. Matthew 6:16-18 tells us that Jesus fasted in private and in Isaiah 58, the reader is chastised for unrighteous methods/motives.

I’m sure there will be folks out there that question my motives. I thought I’d take this first post to be clear that I simply find this to be an interesting story. When I realized its dimension and difficulty, I decided to blog so others might follow along in real time.

The other edge of that noble sword is that there are blogs and media outlets all over the world that have really jumped on board in the last couple of days. My ugly mug was on the front page of the Des Moines Register on Sunday, and tonight at 6 p.m., I’ll be on KCCI-Channel 8 talking about the project. I’ve fielded a number of requests for interviews and just got off the phone with DRAFT Magazine a while ago.

So I’m out there. From a beer drinker’s perspective, that’s fun, and I’m glad that everyone seems as intrigued as I am.

But this project isn’t about me. It’s a historical study into the lives of these Christian monks centuries ago. I’m just the vessel. I want to be clear about that. I hope beer lovers’ learn something reasonable about Christianity, and I hope Christians learn something reasonable about beer.

As for Day 1 itself, it’s been good. I, of course, am not a monk. I loaded two kegs of Illuminator into the back of my Jeep, dropped my boys off at school and hit the office, where I tapped the first keg and had a little breakfast. My email has been stuffed with kind words on the project, as well as comments on the blog that needed approving and interview requests. I did two interviews and have more on the way. That’s not terribly monk-y.

I took a moment to officially weigh in at the Wellness Center a couple of blocks from my office: 160.5 pounds. As I type, it’s a little after 4 p.m., and I’m hungry and have a slight headache peeking through, just like the other day when I did a 36-hour test-drive.

I’m not sure which is better during this time: to be busy to keep my mind off bacon, or to be under-scheduled so I can really take time for contemplation but risk a mind that wanders toward pulled pork? Somewhere in the middle is the proper domain for a part-time monk, and I’ll find it.

I signed up a while back for a seven-day “Monk in the World” curriculum on Abbey of the Arts that I’m looking forward to navigating during this first week. It seems perfect for my role right now. I look forward to getting home this evening. Today has been fun, but crazy and I look forward to chilling out by myself and a few thoughts on what this all means.

Thanks for the support, all. I really appreciate it.


In a day or two, when I get some time, I’ll post a write-up on brewvana about the Illuminator release party, which took place last night at Rock Bottom in Des Moines. I met my goal: I had a great time and felt good this morning–moderation is both good and possible, even for a guy that just went to the release party of his first commercial beer.


About Wilson

J. Wilson is an award-winning homebrewer, BJCP judge and pretty good dad. View all posts by Wilson

19 responses to “Day 1

  • Carol

    facinated by your idea to fast with beer (liquid bread) and water for Lent. I understand the spiritual side of this and my family and I will be reading your updates on a daily basis. Thanks for sharing this experience with the public.

  • Crouchback

    I lived in one of the strictest Catholic Monasteries in the world during lent and advent 25 years ago. We fasted on one main meal a day… as much dry bread as you wanted for breakfast and evening meal, along with a pint of tea and / or cider. I was never hungry and didn’t find the regime all that hard.

    I doubt that the monks back in the middle ages would have been drinking only beer and no food, sounds like a myth to me…..but good luck, I’ll keep an interested eye out and see how you get along….

    Another thing….Lent is only 40 days…..Sundays don’t count.

    Also I know a man who lives as a hermit, I was talking to him on Monday….he fasts seriously….he is 79 years old, dreading Lent….he usually drops two stones in weight…??? and no doctor looking in.

    As I say good luck…..I must find out how to make your beer….!!!!

  • Joel

    I am so glad you launched with a well-balanced and humble post. Remembering to point toward Christ, especially when talking to the unchurched, is critical to keep this from appearking like a “stunt”, imo.

    Also, as Christiam homebrewer, I’m really excited to see how you tread these waters and look forward to taking this journey with you.

  • Peace Duke

    Would you please mention on your blog the serving size for each “meal”?

  • Wilson

    Peace Duke-during the school days I’m doing 4 12-ounce servings and on the weekends it will be 5 servings (288 calories/beer).

  • Ed Bell

    Good Luck and great idea.

  • KayBee04

    Thanks for sharing your story. I will enjoy following along in Lent!

  • Rose

    I love this phrase: “I hope beer lovers’ learn something reasonable about Christianity, and I hope Christians learn something reasonable about beer.” Peace, strength & wisdom to you and thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us all!! My prayers and anticipation are with you. 🙂

  • Troy Lubbers

    I discovered your blog today and am delighted to be following your fast. As a Christian homebrewer with a fascination with monks although in a non-monastic denomination and church tradition; I’m definitely looking forward to what you have to post about this experience.

  • Sam

    What an interesting idea. I’ve always been fascinated by the life style of monks. Knowing water was often contaminated and most monks drank only beer, I’ve often wondered how that affected mediation and prayer (did it lead to unintended naps?)

    I’ll be enjoying reading about your journey, and having a glass with you (but only one!) for support.

  • Kelly

    Definitely following! God Bless, and be careful driving!

  • Pastor Richard L. Sorrentino


    I find the premise of your experiment both revolting, and yet, full of revelatory insight. You do not impress me as a devout seeker of Christian perfection, as many of the Eremites and those of the contemplative Orders were, and, thus, this experiment will probably only serve to garner you those “precious 15 minutes of fame.” Living the Interior Life is both a concerted and devoted attempt to become closer to God; to access the inner divinity within ourselves through Christ. Monks throughout the Christian ages did not practice these austere religious disciplines as either an experiment or a naive foray into the sacred mysteries of the Divine; these men and women were sincere and devout pilgrims whose greatest desire was to be hidden in the wounds of their Blessed Savior. St. Paul, and every major religious Abbot who were also desert Church Fathers, knew that this rigorous voyage into sanctity led to visions of celestial and beautific splendor which were not the product of alcoholic binges. St. John of the Cross and St. Anthony the Eremite had visions of the Great War in Heaven while they lived in their caves, whose visions were not the courtesy of any libation. While I am not telling you to discontinue this media event, since any positive and novel exposure to the Holy Faith which I prize more than anything on this earth should never be extinguished so as to foster its propagation, I issue you the following caveat: since you have chosen to follow the “Via Dolorosa:” the “Way of Sorrows” which come from Christ’s Holy Cross, you will find that perhaps your own life and perspectives of religion may so dratistically change that your own soul may be cleansed from the mistaken notion that monks would use any alcoholic beverage as a vehicle to actualize the Godhead in their own spirit. Beer, a staple of Egyptian priests who worshipped Osiris as the goddess Isis resurrected him from death to herald the annual Nile fertility season would never be used by Western monks, and would have been severly chastised by their Abbots, for such an unholy practice would invariably lead to drunken debauchery, and a pollution of a sacred communion of interdependence with their Creator that they hoped to achieve.

  • Bonnie

    Good luck, J. I’ll be visiting your blog and watching the comments. I’ve been struggling with my meditation. Maybe I’ll try a taste of beer before I meditate. You never know!

  • Rose

    I look forward to following this story!

  • Bethann

    With all due respect, I think you are missing the point of Jay’s journey. However, you are entitled to your opinion just as Jay is entitled to his experiment free from judgement.

  • Diary of a 46-day Beer-only Fast « Pacific Western Brewing Co.

    […] fasted on his own “liquid bread” recipe for 48 days, and tells the tale on his blog, Diary of a Part-time Monk.  The intro video explains the rules and […]

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