The Hunger Games — 2014

Hey, ever give up something for Lent? I know people who’ve given up facebook, eating sweets, alcohol, caffeine, and a variety of other “vices”.  Well, I’m going to give up food.  For reals.

Monks and beer

Fun-fact: you do a Google Image search of “Happy Monk” most of the hits are Buddhists.

Some of you will be familiar with the story of J. Wilson — writer at — who in 2011 did exactly this; he stopped eating food, and drank lots of doppelbock made by Roockbottom Brewery, as well as water.  He blogged about it, and has also written a book about it, and the origins of the doppelbock style. The book is available at Old Line Publishing, Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as better book stores.  But years before that, probably around 2005, a friend of mine, Aaron, and his family had done a similar fast, though in their case, there was no beer involved.  His Father, Mother, Sister and him all went without solid food for Lent, drinking only fruit juices, and having a bowl of beef broth each evening.  At the time I was inspired by them, and have wanted to do something similar since.  When Mr Wilson did has German Monastic-style fast, it tipped the scale for me.  Fasting, plus beer?  I’m in.

This past Lent I really wanted to do this, but was leading a trip of youth to Nicaragua, so couldn’t do it. I’ll be doing the same in 2015.  So 2014 it is!

Here’s the plan: Starting when I wake up on Wednesday March 5th, 2014, I will stop eating solid food.  For meals, I will consume a bottle of beer that I will be making tomorrow with Iain, Cody and the crew at Amsterdam (the working name for the beer is Brewmaster’s Tithe, and yes it’s a doppelbock. I’ll give you full details on the brew after we make it tomorrow).  Between “meals”, I will only consume “clear” liquids, like fruit juices, tea, water, etc, maybe even the occasional beer.  No dairy, no “nectars”, no protein shakes or smoothies, etc. I will also be taking a multivitamin.  I will do this for the 40 days of Lent.  During this time, my family doctor will be monitoring my health.

Okay, there’s a stack of details to cover, because I’m sure everyone has a question/objection/rebuttal. I’ll go into deeper detail in further posts, but here are the things I’m already hearing from people.  Please feel free to add questions in the comments.

  • Is the beer “authentic”? — No, though this is something of a loaded question. I could also answer “yes” in good conscious, with the same caveat. As above, I’ll detail it once it’s done. Much of it is very traditional. Some of it is not at all.
  • J. Wilson fasted for 46 days, you’re only doing 40, what’s up? — There are varying traditions in Christianity surrounding Lent; I’ll cover them off, with the why’s, and why I do what I do. J. Wilson follows one, I another. Plus mine is six days easier 😉
  • J. Wilson also ONLY drank beer and water, you’re drinking other stuff too, why? — The tradition of beer during fasts is hazy at best. In addition, there’s a very good health-related reason why I’ll drink other juices and stuff.
  • Speaking of J. Wilson, you realize this isn’t unique, right? — Well, yes; of course. I’m under no illusions about that one.  This won’t even get it’s own post, as it’s pretty simple. There is still a monastic tradition of fasting that dates back to the earliest times of Chrstianity. There are also fasting traditions in other faiths.  That J. Wilson and I are both partaking in a fairly extreme fast and blogging about it is perhaps, a bit different, but the fast itself is not at all unique.  He certainly was “first” in terms of doing a beer-only fast and blogging about it, but I’m not interested in notoriety; I think this will be an interesting part of my faith walk, that will make for compelling reading and reflection for everybody who reads it.
  • What does your wife think? Your kids? Your priest? Your Doctor? — Everybody is on-board. Everybody brought different concerns to the table. I’ll tell you all about it later.
  • Why are you fasting at all? What is Lent? — Lent is a time of preparation for the celebration of Easter, the most important day in the Christian calendar.  There is a similar period leading up to Christmas called Advent (we’re in the midst of it right now), though most modern worshipers don’t actually fast during Advent.  Many monks still do. I’ll write a post about both what is Lent and the 40 vs 46 day question.
  • Are you going to get all religious in your posts? — Yes, though I solemnly swear not to go on rants about gay marriage (unless it’s to rant about being in favour of it), why I’m “right”, why you’re a “sinner”, or any other gross unnecessary stuff.  My writing will mainly focus on my own experiences of fasting and prayer. To suggest that I would do this without talking about faith would be silly. Mind you, if you don’t know me, you might find my flavour of Christianity to be less, shall we say “loud”, than others you’ve experienced.  If it really bugs you, feel free to tune-out, I won’t be offended.

So there you go. Do ask any questions you have in the comments, or hit me at Facebook ( or Twitter (@ChrisSchryer).

One Trackback

  • By Ash Wednesday — Toronto Beer Blog on March 5, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    […] the day in the Christian year that marks the start of Lent, the 40 days of preparation for Easter. I announced a while ago, that I was planning on fasting from food for Lent, and will be getting sustenance from a beer I made at Amsterdam, as well as clear liquids.  […]

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