March 1, 2012

Diary of a Part-Time Monk ***

*** Diary of a Part-Time Monk, J. Wilson, 2011

This fascinating book was written by the creator of Brewvana.net and early appreciator of the 1996 essay that eventually became What Would Jesus Drink? He even quotes it in the book.

J. is a homebrewer living in Iowa. As the book indicates, he became fascinated with the tale of the monks of Neudeck ob der Au outside of Munich who are credited with developing the rich-and-malty doppelbock style of beer to nourish their bodies through lengthy Lenten fasts.Packed with carbohydrates, calories and vitamins, this unfiltered "liquid bread" is said to have sustained the monks from Ash Wednesday to Easter, and more than 300 years later, the monastic history and quality of this beer style is well-known throughout the world.

For the 2011 Lent season, J. did a 46-day beer-and-water fast to test the legend of doppelbock’s origins, church connections, and nutritional value, as well as his own will power, and blogged about it on Brewvana. And he did it while continuing to work his job at the newspaper.

The first part of the book describes the history of the beer, of fasting, and what led him to the project, which I found interesting. He also goes into the medical aspects of the fast in great detail, including all that could go wrong, healthwise, from living on beer and water alone for over six weeks, which I found less interesting.

But the meat of the book is the daily journal of his experiences during the 46 days, and this part is excellent. His little project attracted international media attention, including folks like CNN and Fox News. J. gets on his soapbox a few times, but mostly it's just a window into the home life of a regular guy with an odd mission.

You should check it out.

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